I’m firmly convinced that kids have internal radar that makes them vie for the last, the best, or the one the others want.
Even if the blue would have been satisfactory, the fact that I had only one red ignited World War Three.
“I want the red one,” my son cried. Three kids but only one red. The argument seemed senseless. I knew for a fact all three of them liked blue. The red and the blue ones were exactly the same except for the color. Since I couldn’t make all things equal, I should have listened to my instincts and left the lollipops right in the store.
I try hard to be an equal opportunity parent. Whatever I spend on the first birthday of the year sets the tone for the rest of the playing field. If I bought one child a book, the rest can figure on something similar for about the same value.
Now that the kids are grown they laugh at this tendency. “Mom, do you really think we’d be jealous if you spent more on one kid than the other?”
I remember the red lollipop.
“Absolutely,” I say.
I also remember the Fruit Loops Fiasco.
“Mrs. Rondeau, call on line three,” came over the loud speaker. I left my meeting to answer the phone. Not that the meeting was that critical. No life or death decisions waited for my beck and call. However, as a department head, the meeting would be stalled until I returned.
“Mom, there’s only a few Fruit Loops left in the cereal box and John won’t share.”
“You called me at work because of Fruit Loops?”
I hadn’t meant to shout, but figured my voice must have carried into the conference room as my boss leaned against my office door and swallowed his guttural laugh by putting one hand over this stomach and the other over his mouth.
“You wait,” I told him. “Someday you’ll have kids and you’ll remember!”
At the time, mine were teenagers, almost adults. One would think that by now, they would have learned a few problem solving skills like how to share the last helping of Fruit Loops. But there was an issue beyond the Fruit Loops. Maybe there is truth in the belief that birth order is a source of sibling conflict. John, the oldest, felt more deserving. Jim, the youngest, felt the baby of the family should receive leniency. Edie, well, Edie just thought she deserved them for acing her algebra test.
“Let me talk to John,” I said.
Now I was going to tell him to close the box and find something else for a snack. I was sure there were at least three oranges in the fridge.
If I’d been home, I’d have solved the argument readily with my if-you-can’t-learn-to-share-nobody-gets it routine. Once, the children fought over the last piece of pie. The pie went down the garbage disposal.
But the matter resolved itself. Before I could come up with a temporary solution, I heard the swishing sound of Fruit Loops leaving the box and spreading softly onto the linoleum. “I’ll be home in an hour and there had better not be any Fruit Loops on the floor when I get there.”
As grownups, my children rarely argue, and they remain close. But as I reflect on those turbulent years, I’m often reminded of our petty jealousies as God’s children. We measure our spiritual worth by what we feel God should give us. We envy Patty the Pianist, Sally the Singer, and Jeffrey the Jokester. We fail to realize that the father gives gifts to all of us as He sees fit. He lavishes on whom He chooses, not out of fear that one might receive more wealth than another. Yet, no good thing will he withhold from those He loves. Ergo, what he gives us is best and what He keeps from us is not in our best interest. Why is that so hard to understand?
If life we’re fair, we’d all have balding heads. If life were fair, we’d all wear a size eight. But just as the human form comes in all sizes and varying degrees of hair thickness, so our God shapes and foliates our spiritual life to be the shining glory of that Great love.
Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s (Psalms 103:1-5).
Linda Rondeau is the author of America II: The Reformation (Trestle Press) and The Other Side of Darkness (Pelican Ventures) which won the 2012 Selah Award for best debut novel. She is the editor of Geezer Guys and Gals blog, a multi-author blog for and by seniors and also blogs at This Daily Grind.
Publication date: September 18, 2012