It’s my kids’ naughty list – some of the most frustrating and irritating quirks my children are doing these days at the ages of 5 and 7. I’m well aware of the brother-sister relationship – you’ll have a best friend for life if you don’t kill each other first. When my older brother, Andrew, and I were that age we had a very similar naughty list, but I gritted my teeth as I jotted down Nolan and Nora’s worse offenses …
• Jumping on the couch
• Not listening
• Giving up easily on simple requests
• Not sharing with each other
I have come to learn that with everything splendid and miraculous in this life also comes a twisted sense of darkness. Parenting – the most stressful joy you’ll ever experience.
After the naughty list, I just as easily made a nice list. It’s a joy to be a mom for sweet moments like …
• Bedtime reading
• Those big hugs when I pick them up after school
• Hearing the “cereal with milk” request from the girl who eats two breakfasts and wears something unicorn every day
• Watching my son in “Uncle Andrew’s Shop” tinker with wood scraps
But you may be asking, “Why would you create that naughty list?” Because years from now when these precious moments are gone, I’ll miss all of them – not just the nice ones.
The truth is, the naughty list was inspired this year because I miss my brother. When you miss somebody you tend to reflect on all the memories you have of them. Not all of the memories I have with Andrew are necessarily nice – though thousands are fun – childhood encompasses a wide spectrum of emotion and experience. Our naughty list included things like …
• I pestered him to let me play with his Legos
• He gladly left me behind when we were riding bikes … I thought my legs were going to fall off my body as I tried to keep up with him
• He locked me in the rabbit hutch
• I’ve had only one bloody lip in my life, and Andrew gave it to me when I was 7. Yes – I deserved it.
Naughty childhood memories make you smile because it’s from a simpler time when life was pretty happy. Even though I wasn’t smiling about those things back then, I certainly am now – and for some odd reason, it makes me proud of the man my brother became.
This Christmas, Andrew is serving our country in the U.S. Air Force and is stationed in Africa. It’s because of all of those childhood moments – both naughty and nice – that I become passionate about praying to our Heavenly Father to protect him and bring him back home in the spring of 2019.
Whatever your kids’ naughty list brings this Christmas, just remember that same level of intensity they’re using against each other will one day be used to defend each other for the rest of their lives. That’s the kind of loyalty that only comes with being a close family. That’s the kind of blessing it is to have a close sibling.
Becca Haines is a communications coordinator for Christ In Youth.