“Oh my word!” I exclaimed to my husband. “Did you see that?!”
He and I both looked at each other with a slight sense of giddy and hope.
The boys had been quarreling, tears and anger roaring up inside them, when one of them pulled back and cocked his arm, ready to plow into his brother. Just before his fist flew into the unsuspecting nose, he paused, turned, and came running to me.
Tears and accusations flew out of him; fury and fear mixed with sadness and grief. The fight was silly and there was not a hint of sense that could be made of it, but the pain was deep and overwhelming. We worked through the tears, calmed the storm and soon they were off playing again.
“Toby! He did it! I can’t believe he did it!”
With three troubled foster boys living in our home, we’ve been slowly teaching anger management and communication, trying to help the boys realize that it’s normal to have very strong feelings, but we must share them in ways that are safe to ourselves and others. We can feel deeply, but we can’t punch someone or kick something to express it.
And he did it. He could have beaten the snot out of his brother, but instead he brought his tearful self to me.
I was so proud! It only happened once. It was a baby step. But it was all I needed to throw a me-party!
The Bible tells a story about the Israelites carrying the Arc of the Covenant through the desert. They kept screwing up and making really stupid choices. People were dying, junk was happening, and they just couldn’t get it right.
Finally, the time came to carry the Arc across the Sea. They were cautious and fearful. Would they blow it again? What careless mistake would happen this time?
Carefully, they took one step into the water, then two, a third step and then four. Soon, they had taken five steps and no one had died. It was miraculous. They took one more step and realized it was time to celebrate!
celebrate the small things
I’m learning in this unpredictable life of mine, that I need to celebrate the small victories. Not the complete correction of behaviors. Not the huge, long-awaited wins. Rather, the small moments when there are three fairly good behavior days or a boy walks away from an argument without blood pouring out of his face. They may only be baby steps, but they’re at least they are in the right direction.
So that’s my plan for this year: When life blesses me with micro-victories… I celebrate. Take six steps and party like a madwoman.