Monday, May 3, 2010

I Just Want To Hold The Bag

With a smirk, my husband motions his hand for me to follow him into the kitchen. He shows me an open bag of mini-marshmallows on the shelf and begins to inform me of the afternoons events.

I'd been out of the house, and Olivia had grabbed the bag of marshmallows and wandered into the living room, asking Joel if she could have some.

"Not right now, Honey. Not before dinner."

She hung her head and looked at the ground. Before returning to the pantry, she looked back at him and very confidently said "Ok, well, then I'm just gonna hold the bag."

Lets pause for a moment here.

"I'm just gonna hold the bag."

We all know exactly what this means, do we not? In fact, the minute I heard Joel say that line, I knew what the outcome would be. I laughed out loud with anticipation to hear the story resolve exactly the way I knew it would. I mean, seriously, who among us can "just hold the bag." That's what I thought.

Where would he find her, elbow deep in marshmallow-land?

A few all-to-quiet moments pass, and Joel looks around, with his daughter nowhere to be found.

Then he hears a faint *crinkle, crinkle* of plastic coming from the kitchen pantry.

With the pantry door halfway shut, he finds his little curly-topped girl standing there, still, with the bag clutched to her chest.

One thing you should know about Joel is that he has the kindest, most even-toned voice of any guy I've ever known. Even when he's upset, he never yells. So in this moment, I can just hear him, calm as ever, saying:

"Olivia, did you eat one when I told you not to?"

Her head shakes no.

"You sure about that answer, Sweetheart?"


Now is when Joel gets down on her level and very softly says: "Olivia.... I need you to open your mouth. Show me whats in your mouth, please."

That was all it took. A look from Dad at eye-level and a call to action.

Two little tiny hands moved up towards her mouth and covered it, as if to form a barrier no one could remove. Her eyes welled with tears.

Oh, how well I know this feeling! The guilt! Sure, it starts out as marshmallows in a pantry... but wait until shes in grade school! And high school! And College! Oh...not College! :-) I take that back.

The circumstances change (and heighten) as we get older - and the consequences become much more severe than a tummy-ache from a fist-full of marshmallows... but the underlying issue remains the same. We do the things we are not supposed to do. Our father says one thing, we do another.

Olivia began to cry. She couldn't bear the thought of opening her mouth to show Joel what she'd done.

He scooped her up and hugged her and said something like "If we eat marshmallows when we're not supposed to, we get a stomach ache. And when we eat them after daddy tells us not to, we get in trouble. But today...well, today...we'll let it slide." And he wiped her tears.

Grace. In a kitchen pantry. Between a daddy and a daughter. :-)

I can't imagine a lesson on guilt ending in a better way.


{postscripted} designs said...

I know it was supposed to make me laugh, but you have me crying here! beautiful.

Sarah Taylor said...

Oh, Malerie. You big ole softy.
:-) I loved the story the way Joel told it to me. Made me think of the time in my life where I tell God "Ok, thanks for that boundry, but I'm just gonna hold the bag."

patricia said...

i was crying too!! i have a 2 year old who tests my authority constantly and i was so touched by the way your husband handled such a moment. so sweet! i love how it relates to God's love for us. even when we test His boundaries and find ourselves caught in the guilt of our mistakes, he scoops us up, holds us close, and says, "today we'll let it slide." thank you for such a sweet story!

{postscripted} designs said...

Sarah, that is exactly how it impacted me as well. I am constantly struck by the daily life parallels between parenting & our relationship with God, so often the lessons we want our children to learn are in alignment with how we need to be seeking to obey Him!

so, when are you going to write a book with all these stories & insights? I want a signed copy please :)

Sarah Taylor said...

Hey, Malerie. I'll write a book when more than five people (including YOU and my MOM) read this blog. :-)

Lindsay said...

I'd read your book :) That story made me cry, too. But in a good way!

Beatriz said...

That was sweet. Sarah you have a way with words. I was also crying. You should totally write a book.

Addy said...

So much about this blog moved me...from your husband's relationship w/your daughter to the relationship we have w/our heavenly Father and the grace He never withholds from us.
Thanks for sharing!

Sarah Taylor said...

Ok, so far I have three people committed to reading my book. Someone find me a publisher. I'd like to go to Thomas Nelson. Who wants to be my publicist?

Did I spell publicist right? (Who wants to be my editor!)

Holly Varwig said...

Don't know how well I would do at editing, but if it would get me an early copy of any book you wrote, I would totally do it!

Sarah said...

I'm with ya ladies! I don't know how any mother could read that and not cry!! LOL

And you have another committed reader here ... publish away!!!

Kelsey @ Seattle Smith's said...

Sarah -- I just found your blog!! Little Olivia is just adorable and sounds precious too. See you Thursday for SATC2!

Geneva said...

That was a great story. I never had that happen to me as a little kid because my parents divorced when I was 6 months old but my grandparents have always shown that love and kindness to us kids because they know we didn't mean to go against them and sometimes we just didn't understand. They've always been loving and understanding.

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Suzys Thoughts said...

Hi Sarah
I remember this blog way back when you were pregnant with that little curly head princess of yours. I had forgotten about it with all the hustle and bustle of life.
Well today I found it again and I have got to tell you...

I LOVED THIS STORY! I am a big daddys girl even at 43, even as a grandmother. This had me in tears. What a beautiful story. You said it beautifully. Grace between a dad and his daughter. Is that not just how God is with us?
Beautifully written.
I'd read your book too! I love how you write!
May God Bless you beyond your boundaries!