One morning this week they each pulled up a stool to the breakfast bar in their kitchen as they were getting ready for school. Both are handsome boys; Mikey has golden curls, peerless creamy skin, and glasses that make him look wise beyond his years and Matthew is fine featured, slightly built, and with deep-set, thoughtful eyes. Somehow (rarely does anyone understand the origin of these things) they got into a battle over who it was that got to pour their Corn Pops out of the box and into their bowl first.
"I poured my cereal in the bowl first."
"You did not! I did!"
"No, you didn't, it was me!"
As the volume of their voices increased, so did their stubborn refusal to let go of this entirely pointless argument. It was finally enough to get the attention of their usually laid-back and patient mom.
"Eat your cereal and get ready for school! Both of you!" Her voice more than equaled theirs in intensity and volume, but even her no-nonsence tone was not enough deter them one bit. They were both determined to win. And the fight carried on.
"No, you did not. It was ME!"
"THAT'S IT!" She grabbed both their bowls and slid them out of reach. "Mikey, you can't eat until Matthew says you can, and Matthew, you can't eat until Mikey says you can."They were stunned for a moment at this strange turn of events, but only a moment. "Well, I'm not going to let HIM eat!"
"I'M not going to let HIM eat!" the battle was on again, going back and forth like a ping pong ball.
"I'm not letting him eat!"
"Well, I"m not letting HIM eat!"
Mom once again entered the fray. "Listen you two, neither of you are going to get any breakfast at this rate. Remember what it says in Proverbs about how a gentle word turns away anger, but harsh words stir up strife? Well, one of you is going to have to give in and be kind to his brother and let him eat so that the other one's heart will be softened and give in too." She might have been quoting Scripture, but her tone still had that "no nonsense" quality to it - the tone all mothers are expert at when their children are bickering and in grave danger of missing the bus.
It was quiet for a moment as they considered their options, both of them with their arms folded firmly over their chests. It was hard to tell what was going to happen next.
"Okay, Mikey, you can eat," Matthew said it very quietly with a sigh of resignation that filled the whole kitchen.
As Mikey steered a spoonful of cereal into his mouth he stared pointedly at Matthew with a look that goaded and begged response. But it didn't last long. Guilt began to set in before he had time for the second spoonful and the battle with his conscience was over. He turned and said gently to his brother, "Okay, Matthew, you can eat too," followed by a big sigh.
Both boys finished breakfast in a spirit of cameraderie, chattering away with each other as they headed to the mudroom to don their outer clothing and run out to the bus. Both boys had received a solid lesson from a wise mom. And so did their Mommy'sMum who lives next door.