Today I saw a glimpse into my future.

Mercy sat at the table with her leftover tuna tetrazzini spread on the plate before her. She watched me in the kitchen preparing my taco salad also from leftovers. "Iwan tcees, pease!" she suddenly announced.

I considered the level of cheese left in the Tupperware bowl. "Tell you what, Mercy, after you eat your tetrazzini, you can have some cheese."

"No," she responded firmly. "Iwan tcees, pease."

"Sure, after you finish your tetrazzini."

"MOM. Iwan. Tcees. Pease." She fixed me with a firm stare.

"No." My single word hung quietly in the air, and I watched as Mercy's eyebrows lowered angrily and her little jaw jutted firmly from her face. She put her fork deliberately down beside her plate, and stared pointedly at me. Her intense blue eyes communicated anger. I recognized the uncompromising wall she had just built: she might be silent about it from now on, but she was not giving in, and she would NOT eat her tuna tetrazzini until I had given her some cheese.

I considered my options. Knowing that the verbal defiance had ended, I could easily ignore her power play by continuing my lunchtime as though the conflict were over. If she chose not to eat her tetrazzini, then she would be hungry when lunchtime was over -- a sad, but natural consequence for this particular decision. But the suspicion that this moment in time contained the potential for more far-reaching results than I could presently see seeped into my consciousness and would not leave. She may not get the cheese or the tuna, but she would keep the rebellion, and it would settle deeper into her heart.

How should I handle this? I silently asked God for wisdom. Every scenario I ran in my mind dealt solely with the outward, none of them reached her heart. And any that I thought might reach her heart required a discussion filled with logic on my part. She's not quite two years old, so discussions, logical or not, have close to a zero-level affect at this point.

Suddenly, that angry defiance on such a little face struck me as funny, and a laugh bubbled into my mouth. I held it back, prayerfully considering Mercy's feelings, and then let it out. "Mercy!" I breathed, "Your face is so funny! I wish you could see it! You look like this," and I imitated her expression. When her face did not change, I said again while laughing hysterically, "It's so funny!" I imitated her again, this time with some exaggerated comical expressions thrown in for good measure.

Liberty, who had been seated next to Mercy during this entire exchange and who had been intensely interested in the doling out of justice began to giggle. I could see the indecision on her sister's face. She seemed to be asking herself, Do I give up my position to join in the laughter, or is it worth it to hold my ground? I deliberately turned my laughter and silliness up a notch, and Liberty automatically followed my lead. The laughter said to Mercy, What a grand time we are having, and look at how much fun you are missing by sticking to your anger!

She hesitated a few more seconds before deciding it wasn't worth it. She laughed whole-heartedly with us, and the three of us began making faces at each other. When we finally calmed down, Mercy looked at me with a happy smile on her face and picked up her fork. That look almost blew me away. It communicated to me that her acquiescence was done with full knowledge of her decision. She knew she had given up her stand against me, and she knew it meant following my rule of no cheese until she finished her meal.

I pondered this new revelation of her character as she happily ate several forkfuls of noodles. After what might have been her sixth bite, I stood and walked back over to the Tupperware bowl of cheese. "Mercy, since you made such a great decision to obey happily, you may have some cheese now. You don't have to wait until you have finished your tetrazzini," I said, and I spooned a small helping onto her plate.

"Thank you, Mommy!" she responded.

If only our future conflicts could be resolved this easily!
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5 Responses
  1. Que Says:

    That is great! I'm glad everything worked out for ya. I have prayed to GOD for guidance in similar situations and have received a completely different and not as creative call as to how to handle that. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. So I will try the funny face next time. I definitely have a funny face that should work. I will let you know how that works out.

  2. Beth Says:

    Oh wow!!! YOU ARE A MOMMY after my own heart! I was sooo worrying, as I read this post, that you were going to rationalize that..."It's just shredded cheddar, after big deal!" I'm so glad you did NOT do that!! Too many people would!!! I agree that it is about the HEART, not the actual situation, that is usually the issue. That's what I keep telling someone that we both know and love...I hope it gets through somehow!!
    GREAT JOB and even a GREATER JOB to ask the LORD for guidance!!!!!! KUDO'S for YOU....and Mercy...and GOD!!!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Awesome story with application. The Holy Spirit does give us wisdom right when we need it.

  4. Suanna Says:

    Great job. I maybe I NEED to laugh more at my kids.

  5. Marie Says:

    That was a great outcome! Good for all of you.

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