Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sharing fish

I frequently give a snack package to Caleb and tell him to share with Elise. Typically this works well. He will pretty much give Elise a Teddy graham whenever she finishes her last one. He will split the Ritz Bits and give her the side with less peanut butter.

I like to do this because, well, it is one less thing I have to do, and it keeps Caleb occupied. But more importantly, I want my children to learn to share. I want them to form a relationship with one another. I want Elise to look up to Caleb. I want Caleb to take care of his little sister. To me these small little exercises in generosity are important practices.

So this time I'd taken a packet of goldfish crackers to Sam's. They have those carts where two kids can sit side by side, so I thought this would be a perfect place to let them share their mid afternoon snack. And everything was fine for awhile, but then while I was trying to find the Lipton onion soup mix (which is not with the soups but with the spices.) I heard Elise's screech of injustice. At about 15 months they seem to develop a more sophisticated sense of fairness. Anyway, I go back to the cart and I hear Caleb counting out, slowly, "one, two, three four," as he is putting each fish into his mouth. Then slowly he counts one and gives one measly fish to Elise. His reasoning? He is four. She is one. So he should get four fish. Elise did not see it that way. Neither did I, especially since Elise can out eat Caleb. Caleb knows this.

But I had an Aha moment, because I've been wondering why God chose this way to redeem all of creation. Why did he choose Abraham? Why did he choose one person? Why just one nation? Why this way? I'll probably not know the entire answer on this Earth, but I thought about my own purposes for giving Caleb the fish. I wanted to give him something so that he could share. So that he could be a blessing to his sister. I wanted Elise to love her brother. This kind of thing has to be taught in your daily interactions with others. God blessed the Israelites and put them in the land of Canaan to be a blessing to the world. Sometimes they were. Sometimes they weren't. Sometimes they began to horde the blessing and take advantage of their position.

Another thing. I gave the goldfish to Caleb, not because I love Elise less, but because in this case, Caleb is the only one capable of sharing. But as they get older, I'll choose who is the one to share for other reasons. But never because I love one more than the other. I'll choose because I'll expect one to pass whatever I've given them on to the other and so deepen the relationship they have with each other.

No comments: