Where Oh Where Did My Little Blog Go?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Peanutbutter and Jelly Blessings...

My five year old son is a constant challenge... bull headed... stubborn... and sometimes a "little" defiant (laced in sarcasm). He consistently and frequently frustrates me. Everything seems like a debate... a constant entourage of discussion and persuasion. His little world MUST make perfect sense at ALL times. He's perpetually focused on issues of inequality and injustice. If I ask him to do something and it doesn't adequately "add up" in his five-year-old world, an exhausting challenge ensues.

Yesterday, while making sandwiches for lunch... Colton requested peanut-butter and jelly while the rest of the children were completely content with turkey. Not a problem... over the years I have learned to appreciate, and grown accustomed to, his frequent assertions of individuality and independence. I was busy making multiple sandwiches and trying to feed the "masses" (by "masses" I'm referring to my four children and the parade of playmates who frequently pass through our home during meal time). I began to cut the sandwich at an angle. I was startled by the aggravated shriek of my child, "NO!!! NOT THAT WAY!"

I stopped mid-cut. He continued in defiance..."I WANT IT CUT THE OTHER WAY!"

He wanted it cut in four equal squares... I had begun to cut it diagonally, in two equal triangles. This was the beginning of a tedious confrontation. In an effort to "choose my battles", I changed my approach to the cut... separating the sandwich into the four equal squares, as requested. Of course, one of the small squares was nearly severed into two miniature triangles because of my initial attempt at cutting the sandwich. I quickly placed it on a paper plate, then garnished it with chips and grapes... pretending not to notice the "defective" piece. I hoped that by overlooking the "flawed" square, he would accept the sandwich "as is", we could enjoy our lunch, and avoid the impending act of defiance that - over the years - I have come to expect.

I placed the sandwich in front of him. He looked at the sandwich and his eyes studied the piece that seemed to announce my irreparable "error in judgement". I continued to ignore his aggravation. He looked up at me with a bitter scowl, then pushed the plate to the center of the table as if he'd just found a hair in his food, then proclaimed... "I want another one."

Here we go...

"Colton, there's nothing wrong with that sandwich. It will taste the same, regardless of how it's cut... just eat it." I slid the plate back to him, hoping that he would surrender to my frustration and eat his lunch.

The other children were happily engaged in eating their meal. I busily went about the tasks at hand, making and serving juice. I put Cole's cup of juice down in front of him... I looked at the plate... sure enough, the "defective" piece had mysteriously vanished while the bitter scowl on his face stubbornly remained. I looked in the garbage... there it was... "the misfit".

Colton, noticing my displeasure, asserted himself with explanatory conviction... "I want a different sandwich."

Too tired for an out-and-out battle, I attempted to compromise with the stubborn little turd... "You don't have to eat the piece that's cut wrong. Eat the rest of the sandwich... When you're finished, if you're still hungry... I'll make you another one."

One by one, the other children finished their lunch and asked to be excused. Colton stubbornly remained... arms crossed... furrowed brow. I began to clean up. As I turned around, there he stood... beside the trash with the remaining pieces of the sandwich crumbled in his hands and a defiant look on his face. There we were, my will versus his... standing toe to toe... eyes locked... in what can only be described as a stand-off...


I took the twisted sandwich from his hands, reinforced my prior position, and sent him to his room without lunch. The mangled remains of a perfectly good sandwich went into the trash. The next hour and a half was engulfed by defiant howls of bitter injustice and verbal assertions of inequality. Ahhh, yes.... the joys of parenthood.

Last night, after the children went to bed, I thought about this experience and my relationship with my child. My thoughts drifted to the relationship that I have with my own father... my Eternal Father, and I could identify some striking parallels...

Matthew 7:7-11

7. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

8. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

9. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

10. Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Colton asked for bread... he was given bread, but the bread provided didn't meet his expectations. Because of those expectations... the bread became a "stone"... a blessing, discarded and not received.

I couldn't help but reflect on my own life and the relationship that I have with my Heavenly Father. I couldn't help but wonder how many times I have refused to accept the "bread" that I have been given? I wonder how many times I have failed to acknowledge the limitations on my mortal understanding, thereby demonstrating a stubborn lack of faith in the will of my Father? The Savior repeatedly taught the value of faith...

Matthew 17:20

20. Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

I have come to realize that formulating expectations leads to lost opportunities and a failure to embrace many of the Lord's "good gifts". While perfect faith has the potential to move mountains, the lack thereof can turn "bread into stones", and "fish into serpents"... blessings disposed.

Through adversity, I am learning to resist less, expect less, and give more. I am learning to love completely, live authentically, and BELIEVE faithfully. I am learning to rejoice in adversity... and give thanks for the experiences in my life that have clarified my understanding of God, my relationship to others, and my purpose in this world. I am awake... I am blessed... I am forever His.

James 1:2-4

2. My brethren, count it all joy when ye encounter trials;

3. Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

4. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

I am learning to trust God's will and graciously accept the "good gifts" in my life. I am learning to "want nothing", to let go of my expectations... expectations that frequently result in discarded...

"peanutbutter and jelly blessings"


  1. My goodness, that sounds like any one of my kids! You're much more charitable than me though. Most times that they pull that "I want something else" routine, I tell them that this isn't McDonald's and they don't get it their way. ;)

  2. ...and whilst I read this I find that my son has promptly discarded half of the remaining spaghetti dinner I'd made for him in favor of peanut butter and cracker mini sandwiches that he made on his own. Sigh.

    And my daughter, content to finish off the 6 feet of Bubbletape I bought her yesterday, now seems to have lost her appetite. Ahh well.

    The blessings to me aren't apparent in my moments of frustration with my children, or in the times when I find myself fighting against the will of God. In fact, it's not until he's broken my Jacob's Leg that I yield to His perfect will, and I realize that, the spaghetti dinner He'd provided for me wasn't that bad after all. In fact, His prepared meal is far better than anything I've tasted in this world!

  3. When I was Colton's age I loved Chinese food. Still do. The difference was then Chinese food to me meant the white sticky rice. The rest was horrible, evil, unclean and I couldn't understand how anyone could eat that. I loved Pizza back then, as I do now. Back then I would ONLY eat the crust as long as none of the icky white, red, or other stuff was touching the crust. Back then if anyone item of food on my plate touched another thing on the plate, everything was ruined. Now I'm a huge fan of "The Perfect Bite" where a little of many things on the plate make it onto the fork and into my mouth.

    Back then Cheesecake was evil, something Satan had created to poison us all, cream cheese, was not far behind. Chili, well that was evil too. Now a naughty snack I'll sometimes have is a bagel with cream cheese and Chili. I didn't care how my sandwich was cut, as long as there was no crust on it. And Cheesecake, well I can't get enough of it, thankfully I've developed a truly frightening level of self control. Trust me, you do not want to dare me to eat only ONE potato chip. It'll be a waste of a perfectly good bag of chips.

    I look back at when I was five and remain amazed that my Mom kept me. The things I put her through over the years, oh good grief!

    Being a Mom is an amazing and blessed . . . Being a parent (sorry, I didn't mean to leave the Dads or Maddies out) is something precious and blessed for everyone involved. But it's not exactly the easiest job on earth. Which I guess makes it that much more precious in ways.

    You my dear are doing a smashing job. Colton will survive, and if you're as lucky as my Mom, will grow up into a young person you never have to worry about. But no matter how he turns out, you will always love him, 'cause that's just who you are. Plus it's part of being a parent.

    Now, on another topic. I think everyone should read your blog. Especially the crazies that are howling about the end of the world and a fire and brimstone bearing God of wrath and eternal damnation who will put you to death and send one right to hell for the smallest infraction. They could learn much from you.

    Christina you rock! Peanut butter, jelly and all.


    P.S. PB&J instead of Turkey, what WAS he thinking? :-o)

  4. That reminds me of the joy of my parenthood times with Thomas, he is a very good adult but was a monster when he was 2 thru 13. The best one was he did not like stir fry veggies, my wife and I were discussing going to the store and Thomas wanted to go so I told him when he was done with his dinner we would go. So I went to do something and my wife went to do her face. When I returned his veggies were gone, I looked in the garbage and they weren't there, hmm I said he finally decided to eat correctly. So to make this long story short, while shopping Thomas began to gag and choke, and my wife stuck her finger in his mouth which she found the problem, he had tucked the veggies between his gums and cheek.
    I learned alot that night, I would sit with him til he was done.

    Kids do the most amazing things when they want their way.