While Mommy cleaned the kitchen, Molly picked up all her toys and straightened her books. She then drew a picture for Grandma while Mommy vacuumed and cleaned the rest of the house. Molly knew Mommy was going to bake a cake for Grandma, but Mommy waited until Molly took a nap so that she could focus on the task at hand and keep the kitchen spotless. Molly missed being a part of it.
When Molly woke up, it was only 30 minutes before Grandma was due to arrive. Mommy took Molly out to the garden and into the field to pick flowers. The big brown vase waited on the old wooden table on the back porch where the flowers would be arranged into a beautiful bouquet. Molly was not allowed to pick garden flowers, but Mommy told her she could run into the field and pick those flowers. It was fun. Mommy’s skillful fingers put the tall flowers in the back of the vase and arranged the others in a beautiful cascading spray of color. But Molly noticed one tiny spot on the bottom where there was no flower at all.
“Look, Mommy, an empty spot. My flower needs to go here.” Molly stuck up her hand, which held tightly to a purple-topped clover flower. With her other hand, she pointed to the spot where her flower could be inserted.
Mommy’s response was immediate and abrupt, “No, it will mess it up the whole bouquet. Go throw that weed over there.”
Molly’s small body first went stiff with surprise and then deflated with disappointment, “But Mommy, my flower would look nice there for Grandma. Please Mommy, just one flower.”
But Mommy was staring at her beautiful handiwork, admiring her skill and the coordinated colors. She did not understand Molly’s eagerness to be a part of it. She did not perceive the crushed look on little Molly’s face. Within seconds, Molly’s joy had disappeared and in its place was anger, frustration, and disappointment.
With Molly’s meltdown came Mommy’s stern rebuke, “Molly…shame on you. Why do you have to have a bad attitude, today of all days? What is wrong with you that you would ruin this wonderful day by being so selfish and demanding? Now, go to your room and get control of yourself. Grandma will be here in just five minutes. She will be so disappointed in you for pitching a fit.”
The little girl fled to her room, not able to get control of herself because she was a child…not yet capable of sorting through her emotions. Instead she brooded. She looked at the now-crushed flowers she still held tightly in her hand. She flung them to the floor as if they had hurt her. She wished her Grandma could just come into her room and hold her without Mommy being around. Soon, she heard the sound of a car coming up the driveway. Molly’s shoulders sagged as she heard Grandma’s welcoming voice ringing in the foyer, “Such beautiful flowers…you have such a gift…so beautiful…so full of color, but where is my sweet Molly?”
Where, indeed? A question asked many times by broken-hearted parents, “Where did it go wrong? What happened to my sweet Molly, my Linda, my Mary, my Elizabeth, my Joy?” In our haste to be productive and “perfect,” we are all guilty from time to time, but when it becomes a pattern, you can expect the child to develop anger and frustration, brokenness and defeat—depending on their personality. Frustrated parents don’t have a clue as to why their children are suicidal or why they use drugs. Rebellion is planted in their little hearts one seed at a time and watered regularly.
I know that most parents are sincere, but just self absorbed. It takes wisdom from God to know our own hearts and to keep the hearts of our children.
“Wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the forward mouth, do I hate. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom…” (Proverbs 8:11-14).
Here is what could have been, the other road not traveled.
Molly and Mommy spent the morning baking a big chocolate cake. After that, Mommy cleaned the bathroom while Molly picked up her toys and books. Then they had lunch together and talked about how nice the cake looked. While Molly took a nap, Mommy finished vacuuming and cleaning the kitchen.
When Molly woke up, they went out into the garden to choose flowers for a bouquet for Grandma, and brought them back into the kitchen to arrange them in a nice vase. Mommy’s eyes were glued to her creation as she fluttered one flower up and pushed another one back a tiny bit, making the arrangement look just perfect. Molly had found some small flowers off to the side of the sidewalk, and she knew her Mommy would like them. “Mommy, I see a hole where my flower needs to go.”
“No, Molly, that is not a hole…it is a spot that allows the eyes of the beholder to move into the whole bouquet. It is a necessary part of the art of flower arrangement.” The little girl’s voice took on an urgent plea, “But Mommy, my flowers, they would look so nice in that spot! Could I please put my flowers in the vase for Grandma?”
Something in Molly’s voice caught the ear and heart of her mother. Suddenly, the flowers were just decaying vegetation, here today and gone tomorrow…a passing project…a thing to be used to grow a child or to crush one.
Mommy looked down into her daughter’s pleading eyes, “You know Molly, I think you are right. Here, let me help you up on the table so you can add your flowers all by yourself.”
The wilted clover looked incongruous in the beautiful bouquet, as Mommy and Molly walked proudly together to set the vase on the table in the hall. They took a quick, last-second tour to check on and admire the clean house, the chocolate cake, and the flowers. “Everything looks so nice, Molly. We did a real good job.”When Grandma walked in minutes later, Molly threw her arms around her, and almost shouting, said, “Oh, Grandma, look at the flowers me and Mommy have for you!” Grandma obediently stopped to admire the beautiful flowers, at once noticing the wilted, drooping clover hanging over the side. Grandma’s eyes looked down, drinking in her beautiful granddaughter. “They are so lovely. I especially love the purple clover. I bet you put that one in.” Then, Grandma’s shining eyes looked into those of Molly’s wise mommy. “They look like a promise of things to come.”
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6