Last Friday Jillian, my six year old niece, had her first real run-in with the idea of being held responsible before God for the sins we commit.
Stephen (age 12) brought home a hardboiled egg. He had drawn a funny face on it. It was sitting in a part of an egg carton. His assignment for the weekend was to bring Egg Baby back to school on Monday morning unscathed.
He put it on the counter and it almost got shoved onto the floor, so I put it in front of him and said, "Stephen, this is like having a baby to watch. You cannot just put the baby on the counter or on the mantle and walk away. What if we had put YOU on the mantle and walked away when you were just a baby?". This made him laugh and he started to say he understood when the curious six year old grabbed for the egg - and at her brother's command 'Jillian, don't touch it!" she (you guessed it) dropped Egg Baby and it rolled onto the floor...where it cracked.
OH THE HORROR.
Stephen was convinced he was going to get an F and Jillian thought she was going to be yelled at by an adult. She is so frightened of this - because of her mom's boyfriend, who is a yeller - that my heart just broke. However, Stephen needed to be backed up and Jillian had to take responsibility so....
We sat down and she wrote a letter to his teacher, telling Mrs. M what happened. I wrote a note too, as an adult witness, and we put both letters into an envelope. Grandma taped the shell fragments back onto Egg Baby and we made him a new, sturdier, crib. Then Jillie and I went into the other room and talked about taking responsibility for our actions.
It is tough - but in March she will be 7 and that is the age of reason. She was upset, and crying, but we said, together, an Act of Contrition. Then she sat on my lap and we went over how no one yelled at her, no one was mad at her anymore, that she had made a mistake because she did not follow directions and that is how accidents sometimes happen. She told Stephen she was sorry, she had tried to make amends by telling the teacher the truth and now we have to believe that God forgives her too.
Later, she said to me that she was still worried about Stephen getting a good grade. So I told her (as age appropriate as possible) that it is hard not to worry. I do it too. Sometimes even adults forget to completely trust that God is going to take care of the situation in the best possible way, even if we do not understand it when it happens. I told her, "Honey, I know it sounds easy for me to say not to worry. Sometimes when people tell me that I want to snap 'oh be quiet! Of course I am worried!' But we have to try and trust...and I am so proud of you for all you did to try and correct this situation".
Of course, I wanted to just hardboil another egg but apparently the teacher marks them somehow so....lololol. And we do have to teach the kids by example how to be honest.
Later, when I told their father, he said the same thing (Can't we just boil another on?) and we both laughed. But he was proud of both his kids - one for insisting that he could not lie to his teacher and the other for trying her best to correct her mistake.
All of life is a learning lesson, I guess. I know I have a hard time with basics, like the theological virtue of Faith translating into trust. But I also know that today I am doing better than I was 15 years ago...and tomorrow I may do even better than today.
Lord, protect me from my own anxiety and worry; Jesus, I trust in You.