Friday, May 27, 2011


Last week, as I was going through my daughter’s backpack to retrieve her homework folder along with the empty candy-wrappers and a half-eaten, few days old PBJ sandwich, I came across a note written on a piece of yellow pad paper:

My bro got mad at me, and called me stupid, idiot and dumb! Spelled out in neat, rounded handwriting of my fastidious daughter. Below the sentence, in a different handwriting, with less emphasis on proper spelling and grammar and neatness, read the following:

Your, bro is meam, ! stupib, idiot and dumb.

I took a deep breath, counted to ten, and then to one hundred, and backward, before I called her on the carpet.

What’s this?
I glared, the gathering of information not being my primary goal in asking the question.

She sensed that something might be wrong. M. asked me to write a report on my brother, she answered sheepishly. M. is her second grade classmate.

Ooooh… I responded in the now-I-get-it voice, and continued. And THIS is what you came up with?!!!

I did my best to keep the lid on my fury. Being her parent, I knew full well that the ‘report’, albeit somewhat truthful, was… well, incomplete to say the least. That there was an all-important side conspicuously missing from the meticulous reporting of my budding newscaster. Being the parent of both, I had a unique insight into the particular event that generated those angry words, I knew the instigator, the perpetrator and the so-called victim. I know where they came from and where they were going. I know the WHOLE story. The fact that in order to validate her own point of view she went to a complete stranger, painted her brother in this light and invoked the kind of libelous response from her validating ’friend’ was…well, infuriating. We had already addressed the above situation when it happened, and the apologies were extended on both sides. I thought it was behind us.

Isn’t that called’ gossip’
, my blissfully unaware son chimed in, busily working on his latest LEGO project, happy that he doesn’t have to pay for the pro bono services of an in-house defense attorney.

I took another deep breath before I turned to my daughter, and spoke as gently and as forcefully as my heart commanded.

We are family, we belong to each other. When we have problems, we deal with them directly. We solve them among ourselves. We speak the truth – the WHOLE truth - and hear each side. We forgive and learn and move on. We don’t throw old, forgiven offenses into each other’s face. And we don’t go around talking to the outsiders, who neither know us nor care about us, about other members of our family!

The echo of my voice was too loud to miss…I paused to listen and let the words sink in.

Precisely My point, dear child. This is what it feels like for Me, when you and your children – when MY children go deep sea fishing for validation of their bruised feelings… running from one stranger to another, rather than coming to Me with family grievances. I am just as heartbroken and outraged when My children badmouth My other children, skewing the truth if perchance they may gather up a few broken trinkets of stranger’s validation for their injured ego. Forgetting that once for all, My Son paid the ultimate validation price for each of them – for the perpetrator and the victim who, in turn, became a perpetrator… Your validation begins and ends with Me….

The next morning, as we were getting ready for school, I noticed my daughter writing something on the bottom part of the yellow pad paper containing the incriminating message. She tore off that part and threw it into the garbage where it belongs. Then. she carefully folded the note she’d just written and gave it to her brother as they trotted off to school. That afternoon, as I was retrieving homework folder from his backpack, along with the crumbled chocolate chip cookie and empty Nerds container, I found the following note, decorated with beautiful underwater scene, a mother dolphin swimming among the seaweeds with her brood:

Dear C,

I’ sorry I wrote things that hurt your feelings. Will you forgive me?

Your sister,


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Munchkin Menu

Mom, do I have to order from the Munchkin Menu? I am getting a little tired of it… our nine year old son leaned towards me and whispered into my ear as I studied the entrees too good to have to decide on just one. We’ve been on the road for several days and have eaten in restaurants more often than we ordinarily do when we are at home. The kids have certainly consumed their share of French fries, hamburgers and chicken fingers and I couldn’t blame him for getting ‘a little tired of it’.

I flipped over to the “Munchkin Menu” (specified ‘for children 10 years and younger) and sure enough there was listed the standard kids’ fare of chicken nuggets, burgers and PBJ sandwiches. I could empathize with his predicament. I glanced towards his younger sister, but she seemed happy enough with more burgers and fries, the limited assortment not bothering her a bit.

What do you want?
I asked.

Well, that rib-eye steak caught my eye… He answered sheepishly.

Straight for the bull’s eye, huh? I chuckled. Since the steak was on the top of the list of adult entrees. I encouraged him to look over the entire menu and make his decision after he has familiarized himself with the options. Eventually he settled on the sautéed tiger shrimp, garlic mashed potatoes and the loaded baked potato (the love affair with potatoes runs in our family).

As he gobbled down his newly acquired freedom, I savored the milestone. Growth. Just yesterday we transitioned from milk to solids, and from that day on, we steadily added variety to his baby menu. As his geography expanded, so did the foods… in Hungary, he ate goulash, in Serbia, sarma, in Bangladesh, curry, in Northern California, sourdough bread. If variety is spice of life, his life became well seasoned.

Then I thought of another menu, containing the entrees which feed my soul. The irreplaceable, never-to-grow-out-of-style, fresh, daily supply of the milk of God’s living Word (I Peter 2:2)… Even after decades of living this life of faith, the wonder of being a child of God doesn’t get old – not even when I became a parent! Especially when I became a parent!

But, as the years go by, I can’t continue to consume predigested food only… There comes a day when I want to sink my teeth into a rib-eye steak… and chew on it… and let it permeate every cell of my body and energize my muscles and blood stream… when hearing the Word of God is inseparable from doing… from being… When knowing slowly, agonizingly turns into living. The day when I leave the Munchkin menu behind and embrace some adventuresome, exotic combination of bitter herbs, fiery spices and serious protein which will give me strength and zest for the journey ahead.

For everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 5:12, 13