This month the kids and I are working on practicing random acts of kindness. The idea had its origins here. I thought it was one of the best ways to countdown to Christmas--with an emphasis completely on the the giving. I would have loved to do it full-scale this year, but came across the idea too late to really get organized for it. Instead we are doing it on a small scale--each night I ask the kids if they did something or had somebody do something kind or unselfish for them that day. I then write it down on a slip of paper, and put it in a jar, encouraging them to think of things to do so we can fill the jar up. The first few nights it was "Marissa did this . . ." and "Isabella did that . . ." I really wasn't sure if any of my boys were grasping the concept (or if they at all cared!).
Last night I discovered Jackson putting my dishes away, unloading the dishwasher! One plate, one cup, one thing at a time he climbed up on my counter and put every last dish away. I almost cried.
He has never unloaded the dishwasher before. It's the girls' job. They do it quickly, efficiently, and mostly without complaining. Jackson on the other-hand has never been what I would describe as a cheerful and willing worker. Most everything with him comes with some sort of battle. As of late he and I have waged lots of battles. That boy has a streak of stubborn a mile wide. I love him to pieces, because he's Jackson and he's mine. But those daily running-ins I have with his willfulness--well, they're wearisome. Often I have doubted my ability to parent him right.
To find him on his own initiative was stunning--a gift of grace--amidst weeks and weeks of "brick wall." When you have a child that is hard, those moments are beautiful, rare, and hard-fought for, true jewels amidst a lot of "in the trenches." I'm so thankful for a God who gives me a glimmer sometimes that things ARE sinking in . . . even if it's not on my time-schedule. It is enough to spur me on--loving, instructing, and always praying.
As for Jackson, we praised him heartily and hugged him, told him how proud we were that he chose to do something so kind. The way his face beamed, breaking into a smile, how he hopped up and down with excitement--it's an image I'll carry with me and remind myself of when we find ourselves battling it out again, waiting for the day I run into that same boy once more.
3 months ago