We’ve been working with Iddo on finding other ways to express her anger than throwing things, especially food. When she throws in anger she has to pick up whatever she’s thrown, and we’ll make her sit there staring at it till she does. And sometimes we’re sitting there for over 20 minutes. As soon as she picks it up though we give her a very enthusiastic “thank you!” and a hug.
About a month ago on a Saturday morning she got upset that we weren’t giving her any more banana or Lucky Charms for breakfast since she’d already eaten what we gave her and she was just going to have to finish the bowl of (dry) Cheerios she still had on her tray instead. And the whole bowl went flying. Cheerios everywhere.
Brett got her out of her chair and sat down with her in the middle of the Cheerio mess. He turned her bowl right-side-up and calmly told her to please pick up the Cheerios. And then they both just sat there. For several minutes. Him staring at her. And her staring defiantly at the Cheerios, actively not looking at her dad.
At one point Brett said that when she started showing a real effort to pick them up he’d step in and help and I agreed that would be a good idea.
Eventually she decided that she really wasn’t going to get away with not picking them up and started putting them back in the bowl (or eating them, we aren’t picky about what she does with the food she throws as long as it’s picked up off the floor). As she started and then kept going Brett sat there right next to her encouraging her the whole time. And in no time at all she’d picked up all the Cheerios. Brett gave her a huge hug and a very enthusiastic thank you. And she happily went on her way.
Two days later it was lunch and she threw a bowl of black beans and rice. So I sat there next to her on the floor with her bowl and a wet wash cloth so I could clean up her hands and the residue on the floor after she picked up all the big pieces. And I gave her a huge hug and an enthusiastic thank you when she finished.
We want her to learn not to throw her food because it is not acceptable in public and we’d like her to be a good person by finding other ways in which to express her anger.
As Brett sat there with her Cheerios though we thought about how what we were doing was an object lesson for repentance. We all do things that we shouldn’t. Sometimes it’s just a fork we throw. Other times it’s an entire messy bowl of beans and rice. And we have to pick it up. But we are never left to do it alone. Our loving God is sitting there right next to us, eager to encourage us when we get started making it right, ready with a wet wash cloth to help wipe up the mess when we’re done, and always with a huge hug after we finish.
We are asked to repent of our sins not because He couldn’t fix them and make them right on His own. But because teaching us to do so teaches us not to do them again and helps us grow spiritually into successful eternal beings.
No one is more anxious to help you flee from sin than your Heavenly Father. Go to Him. Acknowledge your sin, confess your shame and your guilt, and then plead with Him for help. He has the power to help you triumph.
– President Ezra Taft Benson, “The Law of Chastity,” New Era, Jan. 1988
I remember a Mormonad from back in high school that showed a young man having painted himself into a corner of a room with red paint. As I think about that image and then the image of Brett sitting in the corner with Iddo surrounded by a mess of Cheerios, I can’t help but think that the picture of the young man was missing something. He is not sitting in that corner by himself. Because all of us have divine help in getting out of those corners we find ourselves in. Always.