Monday, May 23, 2016


     Allow me to rephrase that: Wow! Braden, now sixteen, for the first time ever did something that needed to be done without being told.
     Granted, he did do things for himself on his own initiative before this but a few days ago while hanging out in the kitchen bored (a favorite visiting place for such times), he grabbed a box of Cheerios and refilled our plastic cereal dispenser! And it wasn't even empty with nothing but a half-inch layer of cereal dust left—it was still a quarter-full!
     I didn't say a word—not because I didn't want to jinx him but because often when I compliment him he acts up. (One child care “expert”—Dr. Spock or John Rosemund—said to compliment sparingly because it takes the bluster out of their sails or makes them uncomfortable so that they have to act up to feel comfortable again. When I was a kid I didn't like my parents taking credit for my positive deed—as if I did it for them—by complimenting me. I did it for myself because I wanted to, same as Braden, I suppose.)
     I wondered if his thoughtful act was a fluke or an unintentional oversight or perhaps something Deanne told him to do a day or two ago?, but then two days later it happened again.
     We have a hamper and laundry basket that we keep in a common area inside. These fill up fast and only empty fully on laundry weekends. The emptied hamper sits inside the emptied basket and only after the hamper fills does the basket sit atop the stuffed hamper. The thing is, the hamper keeps overflowing onto the floor until Deanne or I tells someone to “Fix the hamper.” This assignment goes to whomever is nearest when it happens to be noticed, or Jaren, who has the least chores.
     Well, Braden after bathing this red-letter night, dumped his clothes on the already overflowing hamper; picked up all the clothes, towels, and dish cloths on the floor nearby; stuffed them on top; shoved the contents down tight; then lifted the hamper out of the basket and placed the basket on top. It ended up all just the way we like it, nice and neat, with the hamper and basket backed against the wall. It was remarkable that he did the chore on his own initiative but even more so that he did a fine job of it—no laggard clothes left on the floor, no slanting basket on top, and no sleeves, plant legs, or towels dangling out from between the basket and hamper.
     And I didn't dare breathe a word or even smile or show that I noticed. (If it ain't broke, then don't fix it!—so said one bright dude who wasn't even a child care expert.)
     This was very assuring for me that Braden may be finally “getting it”—that life's not all about him. That living for others is important. That helping out voluntarily feels good. That looking for ways to help and doing them without first seeking approval or recognition is a very big deal. I believe it's why God says to tithe blindly and give without show—because he sees it all and that's enough.
     Praise God!

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