The fight wasn’t really about the soup.
My son was out much too late last night for a ball game with his dad. By dinner time exhaustion was catching up and crankiness was setting in. When he was two years old, our pediatrician warned us that two-year olds and teenagers are a lot alike. Both groups are trying to become more independent. Both groups have many rapid changes going on in their bodies that they don’t fully understand. Both groups need lots of sleep. Both groups can get cranky. Boy, was she right.
It has been a long standing rule in our family that if you don’t like dinner, breakfast is in the morning. So I stood in front of the pantry door guarding the Cheerios and telling him if he was hungry he could eat the soup. He ranted and raved because he had had vegetable soup several times last week at a friend’s house. He ranted and raved because he was tired. He ranted and raved because he isn’t a big soup fan under the best of circumstances (which these weren’t). He ranted and raved because he thought it was ridiculous that I wouldn’t let him have Cheerios.
And to be honest, I felt a little stupid standing there guarding the Cheerios. The situation was dumb and had the potential to escalate to words or actions that could not be taken back, that would only wound. So I threw out a compromise- a peanut butter sandwich and bed immediately. He took it, still raving about how ridiculous I was being not letting him have Cheerios.
But here is the thing. It was never about the soup.
It was about my growing fear that my children fail to fully appreciate how blessed they are. According to Bread for the World, one in four children in the UNITED STATES is at risk of hunger. This means some of my children’s friends did not have dinner last night. Every day 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes. 16,000 grieving, hungry families bury their children each and every day.
So every bowl of soup is a blessing for which to offer thanks. If you don’t want soup, you aren’t truly hungry. But how do we get that message across to our kids when they live in prosperity?
I am not sure. My spouse and I plant seeds of information and experience. Our children have all worked at the local soup kitchen. They all toured and helped stock shelves at the emergency food pantry on their last free day from school. They have helped with food drives and fundraisers. They have read letters from children we sponsor in countries around the world. They may actually know the numbers I just quoted to you off the top of their heads.
But when they sit down to the bowl of soup or plate of pasta, there often seems to be a disconnect. They understand the poverty elsewhere, but fail to fully grasp the blessing right in front of them. Is there some way to teach them to fully appreciate that which they have or do they have to go without before understanding? Am I expecting too much of my kids? I have been guilty of taking blessings for granted plenty of times over the years. Maybe I have to be patient and not expect the seeds my husband and I have sown to grow right away. Maybe I need to set a better example personally.
I don’t have the answers. I just know it is about a lot more than a bowl of soup.