My daughter Eleanor has achieved many things in her three years so far. Mostly, these achievements are related to destroying various things around our home – countless rolls of toilet paper, completely unrolled and then shredded and deposited in various places around the home, countless baby dolls and carpet areas covered in bright pink nail polish that I still don’t know how she accessed, and, most recently, purple sharpie on my white kitchen cabinets.
Last night around 5:30pm, I was dealing with Comcast, who accidentally didn’t process our autopayment for the month of June, and is now charging us a late fee for not paying our bill on time. In case you aren’t aware, Comcast has the single worst customer service on the face of the earth, and Comcast solely exists not to provide internet and TV service like we all think, but because the Lord in Heaven knows that human beings need to be tried through the fires to learn patience (see Romans 5), and Comcast is a direct gift from God to learn these skills. Either that or the Enemy runs the world and likes to mess with us.
I was absolutely fuming at Comcast over the ridiculousness of this (I called and waited NINE minutes to speak to a human, which isn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things, but they informed me then that my husband was the sole person on the account, so they couldn’t communicate to me about it, so, of course, I just went online and logged in and chatted with an online customer service representative who communicated with poor English which drove my patience to the brink of insanity and I pretended to be my husband because WE ARE ONE according to GOD’S HOLY WORD and EVERYTHING THAT IS HIS IS MINE so there’s NO REASON WHY the DUMB CABLE COMPANY CAN’T JUST TALK TO ME but anyway I’m digressing so yeah the person wouldn’t refund the late fee because they had record that they had sent an email about the payment not processing).
So anyway, it is super hard when you are FUMING at COMCAST and their RIDICULOUSNESS to be patience and kind and loving. Jared wanted to play ball with me, so I tried desperately to put aside the firey ball of “IMMA KILL YOU” in my chest to enjoy some time with my son who was being delightful and sweet, but I was just still so, so mad. So about 5:30, husband gets home, and he comes in to talk and stops himself to say, “ELEANOR, NO.” This is always the alarming phrase in our house (see above about rolls of toilet paper and nail polish in two-day-old carpet and etc), so I immediately just x’d out of the conversation with the irritating Comcast person (it isn’t his fault, really) and walked into the kitchen to find this:
Of course, my instinct, with the firey ball of fury still in my chest, was to yell at my daughter for the ONE MILLIONTH time about NEVER DRAWING ON ANYTHING BUT PAPER FOR THE LOVE OF PETE. But this was a whole new level. This is purple Sharpie. This ain’t no colored pencil or washable marker like it has been every other time. Straight up permanent Sharpie.
So I started my “angry mean scold.” “Eleanor, you cannot ever draw on anything but paper! We have told you this so many times, and you still don’t learn. This is not okay!” Of course, my sensitive, sweet little daughter gets her amazing epic pout face which I sorely wish I had a picture of and starts bawling her eyes out because she can’t stand to disappoint us even though she constantly does. Immediately, it was like the firey ball of fury in my chest was submerged in cleansing water, and all the anger was gone. In the middle of my scolding, I started busting up laughing. I just could not, you guys. It was all too much. I’m looking at little Picasso’s artwork on my one-year-old white kitchen cabinets in the middle of yelling at her about it, and I realize that she has drawn these truly lovely smiley faces on the middle area. Something about them being smiley faces (which I didn’t even know she could draw, by the way!), and there being three of them there, and her face being so distraught because she knew that once again, she couldn’t measure up…I have to tell you, it was the grace of God that I reacted the way I did, and it couldn’t have been anything else.
I’m so grateful that God softened my heart toward my girl in that moment. I was able to build our relationship instead of putting barriers in it. I was able to treasure the sweetness of her drawing our family instead of focusing on WHERE she drew it and WITH WHAT. I was able to remember that the real treasures are people, not one-year-old white kitchen cabinets. I can pretty easily paint over purple Sharpie, but I can’t as easily paint over mean, harsh words that leave scars on my tender daughter’s heart.
And also, once again, I couldn’t help but see myself in my children. So often, I ache to do what is right, and I just get it wrong. So often, I am in the middle of having a good ole time when I realize that I majorly messed up something important. And while there are consequences, my God always, always, always responds to me with tender love and grace. He wraps me up in his arms and reminds me that I can do better. He comes alongside me while I clean up my mess. Often, he cleans it up for me.
Oh, and I asked her about what she had drawn before I took to it with a Magic Eraser (and I’ll be trying several other tactics today before the inevitable painting over it that I’ll be doing when it doesn’t all come off). Those two medium-sized smileys are Jared and Ellie (Jared is open-mouthed because “he is very loud” and Ellie has a straight across facial expression which just made me LOL), and the teeny, tiny smiley with appendages protruding is Baby Grace. This sweet little image is the first drawing of all three of my kids, and it is so fitting that it is done by my sneaky, manipulative, sensitive, tender middle one. I just know she’s going to grow up to see people and include them and put herself permanently in the middle of that, just like she did with purple Sharpie on my white cabinets.