Obviously there are many things I want to instill in my kids. One of the biggest for me is teaching them how important it is to forgive when they are wronged. And not just to forgive, but to forgive swiftly so that bitterness doesn't have time to take root.
About three dozen times a day Ocean and Iris will bicker and fight, and every time I make them apologize, hug, say "I forgive you" and "I love you". Usually forgiveness comes quickly and it's amazing to see that instantaneous shift in their attitude toward one another once they both know they're back to being best friends.
Today Ocean tried to help Iris with something, which he often likes to do. As Iris enters the awesome I do it myself phase she desires his assistance less and less. This was one of those times. He made the attempt, got shot down rather rudely and immediately burst into tears. I sat down with him on the couch and told him to go ahead and cry until he felt ready to talk. He sobbed for a good 3 or 4 minutes before he sniffled, "Iris hurt my feelings."
I asked Iris to come over and talk to us. She came running, totally oblivious to what was going on.
"You havin' a hard time, buddy?" she asked Ocean. I gently told her that the way she yelled NO at Ocean had hurt his feelings and that it would be nice if she would apologize. She offered a very genuine, "I'm sorry Ocean!" But he grunted and shook his head... and wouldn't accept her apology. Hmmmm. New territory.
I sent Iris to play and continued to hold Ocean. I said, "You know, buddy, sometimes I have a hard time forgiving someone when they hurt my feelings. And sometimes I even have to ask God to help me forgive because it's so hard to do. Is it okay if we ask God to help you forgive Iris?" He nodded. So I just said a little prayer for his heart to be able to forgive his sister. A minute later he jumped off my lap and started to get into a toy, but paused, turned to me and said, "I have to say something to Iris." He ran to her, gave her a hug and said gleefully, "I forgive you Iris!"
This could have been one of the hundred daily battles that I choose not to fight and this moment would have been lost. My kids antagonize the hell out of each other (and therefore, me) all day long, but it is so beautiful to see the purity of their love for each other during moments like this.
My friend Lindsay reminded me recently that even through this tumultuous time in our lives, when Mommy and Daddy go to the hospital two full days a week, and Daddy feels tired or sick a lot, and Ocean and Iris can undoubtedly sense the stressful circumstances, those two little crazy people have consistency in their relationship with each other. Because no matter what changes happen, or how often Phil and I have to be away, or who is watching them, they are always always together. They have each other. And that will be a bond that they always share.
I can't look at them these days without thinking about that. Even when they're fighting. And especially when they hug and forgive each other.