Today, Max and Xavier were commissioned to get the toys that are strewn all over the house, picked up before Aimee's family comes over for dinner this evening. Neither boy was overly enthusiastic about the chore, and after numerous threats and reminders, I pulled out all the stops to get them moving:
I set a timer for ten minutes.
You see, since we have boys, normally we can turn anything into a race or competition. In this case, the clock was the enemy, and usually our sons do whatever they can to vanquish the enemy.
But not today...
Xavier, for whatever reason, just wasn't rising to the occasion. He could be tired, or just "three", but as it became apparent that he wasn't going to pick up his part of the clutter, I made it clear to him that if he failed to beat the clock, there would be consequences.... which promptly resulted in him breaking down in tears.
Anyhow, Xave's brother, Max, responded in a curious way: he began to gloat over his brother's pending misfortunation. While this isn't all that uncommon, what made it so poignant was that yesterday, Aimee told Max that he wouldn't be able to watch a movie on the big screen in the basement as punishment for something he had done to his brother and Xavier interceded on Max's behalf. Xavier said that watching a movie would't be fun without Max, and asked his mother if she would reconsider, which was so unexpected, that in her shock, she gave Xavie his wish. Now, not 24 hours later, when he had a chance to stick up for his own bro, Max was instead rubbing Xavier's impending misfortune in like a spice rub into a pork chop.
(In a sing-song voice) "You are in trouble. You won't get to go swimming. I get to have fun and you don't get to."
Why are we that way? Why are we so quick to accept mercy and grace, and so loathe to dish it out? I guess I could be upset with my son if I, too, weren't so quick to beat others with sticks when they were down, forgetting all the times that people took blows for me in hours of need.
Anyhow, while Xavie sobbed in mother's lap, I pulled Max aside and reminded him of what his brother had done for him yesterday. He responded with dead silence. And then, after a few moments where you could see the wheels turning, he called out...
"Hey Xavie. I'm done picking up my stuff, and we still have time. How about I help you pick up yours?"
I know that, down the road, I'm probably creating a two-headed monster where the boys starting banding together against us, but how might the story of humanity been different if Abel had simply said, "Hey God, give Cain a second chance. I'm sure he can do better next time.", and then the two brother worked together to make a sacrifice that blew any other away.
Tough to say.... I hope I find out in my own home, though.