Personality. My daughter has it. In fact, she has so much personality she has little time for things like cleaning her room on her own. Personality people love group activities and let’s face it: cleaning your own room isn’t a group activity. Greta loves to help in groups and will be the first to volunteer and she’s great at cheering on the team. That’s why we love personality people.
But her room is still a mess and the boys don’t wan to make it a group activity that Greta will love and help their little sister out. So we bribe them. Matthew is paid to work in the room for a while. Greta is thrilled to have company on doing a chore and the room gets cleaned. We gloss over the arguments and chalk them up to simple sibling rivalry.
The next morning, Greta came out with a huge smile and one of her recently rediscovered treasures, found deep in the recesses of her previously hideous closet. It was an envelope full of homemade cards from the kids at her school – from when she was in the hospital. She came out waving the envelope and shouting to the world:
See mommy, people do love and care about me.
Of course I responded that I never had any doubt and smiled, and tried not to cry, as Greta read card after homemade card from different schoolmates expressing that she get well soon and how much they loved and missed her. It’s been two years since our lives changed and ADEM came to our home, but those words of love and encouragement still found loving reception in Greta’s heart, and mine.
I told my class at church – I wish everyone could go clean their closet and find an envelope full of the love and encouragement folks have given them when they went through a difficult time – and remember that people still love and care about them. Go ahead, right now. Go clean out the closet of your memories. Don’t dwell on the obstacles and hurts. Remember the love and support of those who stood by you and perhaps even carried you through that time. Like Greta, hold those precious memories high and say to yourself that it’s true! People still love and care about me!
My personal opinion: unless all of your children have the exact same gender and personality – there is no way you can treat your children the same. You may try, but the children will suffer because you aren’t meeting their specific needs. Is it easy? How many ways can I say NO!
Greta would gladly give everything in her lunch just to have the admiration of her friends. If she eats her lunch, she only eats enough until her desire to play at recess takes over. She would rather not ride her bike in a bike-a-thon and walk beside a friend with a broken chain than go on without the friend. Greta’s world revolves around friends. The boys don’t have that personality. Greta’s lunch has been an issue that we even had to bring up to the teacher. Please don’t let her give away everything in her lunch. She comes home starved. We had to assure Greta that true friends would still be true friends even if she didn’t give them cool things from her lunch. If they are hungry, by all means share and let the teacher know that there is a child with no lunch.
We came up with a simple guideline to help Greta. Pack at least 5 things in your lunch and try to eat your entire lunch. Leave nothing behind. Don’t give it away. Don’t trade wholesome stuff for junk food. Today, Greta saw Matthew with only 4 things in his lunch. She cried unfair. How come he only has 4 things in his lunch. Isn’t he supposed to have 5 things? That guideline was never given to Matthew, because it wasn’t necessary for him.
Greta got tangled up in the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law. She focused on checking off her list, do I have 5 things in my lunch, instead of the fact that her parents love her very much and want to make sure that she has a nutritious lunch that will help her finish out the day at school.
This is nothing new. Jesus ran into the same problem. He dealt with a bunch of folks more concerned with checking items off of the list than getting to the heart of the matter. They couldn’t see that God created us to have abundant lives and that’s exactly what He wants for us. He gives guidelines to help us get to that understanding.
Greta is off to school and I will pray that God gives us guidance on how to communicate to this ADEM child that the real issue is we love her and want her to have a nutritious lunch that will benefit her.