Caleb's Kindergarten class has been earning pennies in class for various things from good behavior to turning in homework since the beginning of the new year. Every other Friday, they have a chance to shop at the "Treasure Store" and spend their money.
For the past several months, Caleb has had his eye on a particular rubber band projectile that shoots planes for sale in the Treasure Store for a bargain price of $1, or rather 100 pennies. Now, when you earn pennies one at a time, it can take a mighty long time to save up $1!
I have seen Caleb come back week after week, not making any purchases at the Treasure Store as he saved up his pennies for what promised to be an amazing prize....worthy of his patience. Every week, he would report to me how many pennies he had saved toward his plane. One Friday, he splurged and purchased a tootsie roll, which I'm guessing cost him a penny or two, but he continued to hold off on the temptations of the other toys. Finally, months later, the day arrived when he had over 100 pennies. The countdown for Friday's Treasure Store visit began.
When the day finally arrived, I picked Caleb up from school, having forgotten that it had been the big Treasure Store day. I looked in the rearview mirror to see Emet wearing a pair of blue star sunglasses; and Caleb a pair of orange ones. For Sissy, (Anna Ruth), Caleb pulled out 2 beaded bracelets. He and Emet had pencils, and all three children had a lollipop.
"Oh! Today must have been Treasure Store!" I exclaimed. "But, Caleb! I thought you had been planning to get your plane!"
"Isaiah H. had $1 too, and he got it first." Caleb explained.
"Were you disappointed?" I asked.
"Yes." Caleb said.
"Did you get angry?" I asked, curious how he might have responded to such a let down in class.
"No." he said quietly.
My heart squeezed inside....you know, that feeling when you hurt for someone else. I began to play the scene in my head, feeling my son's disappointment on a much anticipated day. Yet, here he was, after months of diligently saving and waiting for that little airplane shooter, having experienced and processed through the disappointment, and then having chosen to move on and abundantly bless his siblings with a surprise of treats and toys.
What a sweet and special afternoon surprise it was for Emet and Anna Ruth. They sweetly thanked Caleb and happily played with their new belongings the entire car ride home. Caleb was a bit pensive, and quietly absorbed my praise as I told him of my pride in his choices and acknowledged his disappointment, all while choking back tears myself. As a parent, your child's pain and disappointment becomes your own. Perhaps it is in this that we are allowed to experience a bit of God, to share in His pain, and to understand just how He feels about His own children.
At age 6, I could have expected tears of anger hiding a heart of sadness. I could have expected him to tell me how it wasn't fair, or to purchase a whole bunch of things for himself, or to keep saving his money until something better came along. You see, as a parent of 4 little children, I do spend much of my time breaking up arguments, and redirecting the selfish behavior of my children. But, every now and then, I get to see deep within the heart of my kids. This was no exception. What I got to see today, was the beautiful and giving heart of my son....the son I know him to be deep inside - even when he is being naughty. I saw a kind and giving child, who showed self control, allowing his friend to enjoy his new toy, even if inside he was sad and hurting from a big disappointment in losing something for which he had saved for so long. I saw a big brother that thought to bless and take care of his little brother and sister, when he could have thought only of himself.
I guess this is one of those times as a parent I just have to step aside and let the reality of life do its work in the molding and shaping of my child's character. Things don't always work out just like we plan for. Sometimes we have to be disappointed. Woe to the child who is shielded from all sadness or disappointment until adulthood. Their fall will be all the greater when it happens. And it will, eventually.
But I don't think I could be any more proud of my son than I was today. There are bigger things in life than pennies and planes, to be sure. But I was given a great gift today that will be remembered through 1,000 sibling arguments. I'll remember it along with those handful of other such events that provide a glimpse into the core of the precious soul I am helping to refine.