Fostering

Mice in the Kitchen

I got up on Saturday morning to a rustle in the kitchen and the pitter patter of little feet running down the stairs as I entered the kitchen. Hmmm

The evidence in the kitchen was plain as day… a clip lying on the counter, the pantry door open, and a red solo cup sitting beside the fridge. I walked over and peered into the cup to see … marshmallows?

I could hear some whispers at the bottom of the stairs and very quickly came to the conclusion that our two weekend guests had been in the kitchen and had been caught in the act. As Mike entered the kitchen I said loudly,

“There were mice in the kitchen this morning!!”

His look of concern disappeared as I motioned to the evidence in the kitchen.

“Apparently the mice wanted marshmallows, although I am pretty sure marshmallows aren’t fruit.”

This comment referred back to our conversation before bed the previous night in which we explained that our Saturday morning routine is pretty laid back and Mike usually makes a big breakfast for everyone around 10am. We had told them that they were welcome to an apple or orange or a yogurt if they were hungry in the morning before breakfast was ready. I hadn’t expected them to be up in the kitchen before we were though.

Mike continued making coffee and I went into our living room to sit down and do my morning reading. From there I could hear the whispering at the bottom stairs due to a heat vent we have. I listened to panicky whispering and exclamations from one sister to the other as to who’s fault this was. Truly I was finding it all quite funny and was chuckling to myself wondering how they were going to get out of this one.

When Mike finished getting the coffee going and the pets fed he decided to reassure them that they weren’t in trouble in hopes of having them come upstairs. He did this by peering comically around the top of the stairs and asking what they were up to.

What he saw was a little girl crying while her sister tried to convince her to go back up stairs with the incriminating bag of marshmallows in hand.

With some reassuring that they weren’t in trouble and no one was angry they came tentatively upstairs and surrendered the bag of marshmallows. The tears didn’t stop. The level of anxiety seemed unwarranted to us, but we don’t know their history at all. Mike assured them they weren’t in trouble but that we don’t usually eat marshmallows before breakfast and sent them back downstairs to watch TV … with their cup of marshmallows.

I’m glad we responded calmly and saw the humour in it. The teachable moment came later. When she was calmed down and there was some day time activities behind us I was able to ask her why she had been so upset. Her answer was that she knew she was doing something that she shouldn’t have been and she didn’t want us to be angry at her. I asked her how she knew she was doing something wrong… we never told her she couldn’t have marshmallows… she didn’t really have an answer, she just shrugged and said she knew.

“That was your conscience,” I told her “When we know something is wrong and feel uncomfortable about it we always have a choice. We can choose to listen to that voice and stay away from the bad things or we can choose to ignore it and do it anyway.”

“I knew I shouldn’t take the marshmallows” she said, “but I wanted them.”

“The marshmallows aren’t a big deal, but you are right that you shouldn’t have taken them. The thing is you will have that feeling that something is wrong about other things… things that might have more serious consequences… and if you ignore it now you are more likely to ignore it then. If you choose to listen to that feeling you can protect yourself from a lot of heartache and pain. Who made you feel so bad about the marshmallows?”

She had to think for a minute but then she said “I did, because I felt bad and was so scared.”

“If you had waited 5 minutes and asked us do you think you might have felt different?”

“You would have said I couldn’t have marshmallows!” was her reply.

“Maybe, but we would have gave you something for a snack and your morning would have been happy! Was the marshmallow worth all that crying?”

“No… not really.”

And the moment was over and there was other mischief in the day. When bedtime came she sought me out and gave me a hug and I said “Goodnight! And marshmallows aren’t fruit.” and she smiled.

I don’t know if she will remember the conversation or act on it. We plant seeds and hope that they land in fertile soil. I’m thankful for the opportunity to speak truth to these girls.

I am thankful for that voice that tells me when I am headed the wrong way in my thoughts, words or actions. Holy Spirit often speaks quietly to me and I too have to choose to listen or ignore. I am a fairly typical human being who likes to have what I want when I want it. Being self centered often leads to doing things that aren’t in our best interests. It might be the sarcastic comment aimed to sting, or the second helping you know you don’t need. The delay you justify instead of getting the task done or the situation you choose to turn a blind eye to because you don’t want to get involved. The list could go on and would be different for all of us. Do you choose to listen? Or ignore?

So I am thankful for little mice in the kitchen who gave me reason to ponder what I do with that little voice that tells me not do do this! How many of my hardships began the moment I ignored the prompt and did what I wanted anyway?

Do you ignore the prompt and regret it later? May you have a mice in the kitchen moment too!

In the midst of the mess,

Marny

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