My son Andrew, his wife Dasha, and their two little girls lived with us for several months while they were between assignments. It was delightful, and as usual, the children were instructive.
“Good morning Emma,” I greeted Miss Independence as she ran from her bed and into the new day. “How are you?” I inquired.
“I’m three,” she responded.
Now that is actually a more precise description than anything she could have told me about her health or her welfare. Emma is three–through and through. And there is nobody more equipped to teach true principles to those of us who are three from an eternal perspective, like me for instance, than an actual three-year-old. Emma is trying to figure out what it means to be good–and aren’t we all?
One afternoon, following the aerobic morning flurry of preparation for the day, we confined Emma and her little sister to their car seats (hallelujah!), and left with them to run a few errands. Dasha, Emma’s mother, made the mistake of placing her purse on the back bench of the car between the little girls. She and I visited as we made our way down the road.
After several minutes of uncommon quiet in the back seat, Emma said with a matter-of-fact tone in her voice, “Sorry Mommy. Sorry Mommy. Sorry Mommy.” After the fourth “Sorry Mommy” we stopped our front seat chatting. I was sitting shotgun, so I turned around to see how the little ladies were entertaining themselves and to determine what it was Emma was so sorry about. In the spirit of boredom mixed with a bit of curiosity and some downright naughtiness, Emma was being “three,” just as she had warned me of earlier that morning. She had apparently been going through her mama’s purse. Finding the wallet to be the most interesting and complex thing in the bag, she was tearing it apart one piece and one “sorry” at a time. Almost in rhythm, she was extracting credit cards, insurance cards, shopping coupons, and pieces of money. And without even taking interest in the item in her little hand, and with three-year-old authority, she was throwing each item on the car floor beneath her and repeating the repentant mantra,
“Sorry Mommy. Sorry Mommy. Sorry Mommy.”
What was she thinking? Who knows! All I know is that in that moment, as I watched her, I actually felt convicted, or busted, as we might say today! It was the perfect picture of me and my own behavior at times. I know right from wrong, but sometimes I just want to do what I want to do. I want to say what I want to say, stay up as late as I want, sleep as late as I want, attend to this or that only when I want. You get the idea. If you are relating to this you can fill in the blank with your own willful behavior. All I know is that watching Emma reminded me that usually when I am naughty, somewhere deep inside I know it. And though I might not say it aloud, as I leave “the straight and narrow,” and the seconds tick by, in my mind and in my heart I say over and over again, “Sorry Heavenly Father. Sorry Heavenly Father. Sorry Heavenly Father.”
Thank’s for the instruction Miss Emma. You’re right. You are “three” through and through! Thanks for helping me think about some areas in my “nearly senior” life that bear looking at next to your innocent demonstration. The truth is that at my age my “sorry mommy” behavior is more serious than Emma’s but definitely no less ridiculous! And noticing it is the great beginning the end of it!