My kids can get away with any crime known to childhood—as long as I’m on the phone.
“Mom, can we have a special mix?” My five-year-old tugged at my sleeve and whispered this request for her favorite snack—a mix of Goldfish, pretzels, peanuts, Cheerios, and whatever else is in the cupboard at the moment. I cradled the phone between my shoulder and my chin, shook out a wrinkled sweater from a basket of laundry I was folding, and glanced down at my daughter.
“Mom!” She poked me. “Can we?”
I nodded and waved her off, eager to catch every word from a long-distance friend.
“Can we put chocolate chips in it?”
“Sure,” I mouthed, distracted. “Just a few.”
For the next 20 minutes, sweet conversation fueled my soul while two happy daughters giggled in their bedroom, not bothering to interrupt me again.
That should’ve been a clue, eh? But of course, I was busy chatting.
Too late, I hung up the phone and carried a stack of socks to my daughter’s dresser. That’s where I found the snack cups—filled halfway to the brim with chocolate chips. Seems our “special mix” wasn’t a mix at all, but a mound of Toll House morsels with a few Craisins tossed in for good measure.
“Girls, is this what you call a special mix? Didn’t I say only a few chocolate chips?”
My five-year-old’s chocolate mustache wilted to a guilty frown. “Sorry, Momma.”
I pressed my lips together and stifled a laugh. This was my own darn fault.
“Sweetheart, how many is a few?”
“No, it means three. Only three, technically. These cups have closer to a hundred chocolate chips in them.”
“But we like chocolate chips!”
“So do I. However, a cup full of them—before dinner—is not a good idea. I think you know that.” I confiscated the snack cups and prayed their sugar high would wear off before bedtime.
Heaven help me.
When left to their own devices, my children twist the rules. Furniture cushions become a canvas for markers. (“You said no crayons on the sofa!”) People are punching bags. (“I didn’t hit her! We were having a pillow fight!”) And jelly beans are dinner, not dessert. (“But I did eat my vegetables first! I had two peas!”)
Thankfully my girls are under the guidance of a higher authority—their parents. We provide boundaries because we love them. And, when I’m not blabbing on the phone, those boundaries serve and protect our children well.
But the chocolate chip incident got me thinking. What’s in my special mix? What boundaries do I push when it seems like nobody is looking?
God says do not worry. But I’m not worrying, exactly. I’m just, uh, concerned. Yep.
God says a fool gives full vent to his anger. But I’m not angry! I’m just frustrated! All moms yell when they reach their breaking point, don’t they?
God says submit to your husband as to the Lord. But seriously, if God knew what my husband just said to me, he would totally offer me immunity from that suggestion.
“Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe,” (Proverbs 28:26).
Our kids aren’t the only ones who answer to a higher authority. Grown-ups do, too. God spells out our boundaries in the Bible because he loves us—and he knows how many chocolate chips we can handle before our bellies start to ache.
“Mom, when can we have our snack cups back?” My five-year-old followed me to the kitchen, where I pulled a pint of cherry tomatoes from the fridge.
“You can’t. But you can help me make a salad for dinner.”
“Salad? I’m not hungry for salad.”
“Because your tummy is full of chocolate chips, I suppose.” I raised my eyebrows and shot a stern look. She lowered her chin, repentant.
“Okay, I’ll eat a salad. But I don’t like those tomatoes.”
“No worries,” I winked. “I’ll only give you a few.”