A Broken Banana
If there were two activities that you could import from toddler years into your adult life, what would they be? For me, it’s a no brainer. First, I’d want snack time. A dedicated 15 minutes to eat ants on a log, graham crackers and milk and that tiny paper cup filled with grapes cut in half.
Then, I’d want nap time. Give me a cot with a blanket and the instruction that I needed to get some rest, and that’s my idea of great afternoon!
Yet, for some reason, these two simple joys can elicit wild emotions from toddlers. You tell a 3-year-old that they need to get ready for nap time, and you can watch the shock and horror pass across their face. It’s as though you’ve told them had to go complete some vile task.
While snack time is usually a happier occasion, if you mess it up, watch out! Yesterday, my niece wanted a banana. During the peeling of said banana, it broke in half. She was presented with both halves. Her eyes welled up with tears, and she looked up at her mom expectantly, wanting the banana to be put back together again.
She began to cry, and repeatedly pushed the two halves together, getting more and more angry that they wouldn’t stick. It was suggested that she have banana slices instead, as it was impossible for the banana to be whole once more. That was unacceptable in her 3-year-old mind.
Even with the offering of a cool plate, multiple colored plastic forks, and any other method to try to sell the idea of sliced banana, she wasn’t having it. She woefully ate a few bites and then gave up in sorrow. Her little brother happily took over her chair the minute it was vacated and ate every last banana slice with a big grin on his face.
It’s so easy to see the ridiculous thought process of children, and wonder why they are quick to get angry or frustrated when things don’t go their way. But, it dawned on me, that I’ve been guilty of many toddler behaviors myself.
Maybe it was the dishes that weren’t done “right” or the fact one of my daughters took my pajama pants without asking. It could have been the bathroom that was left a mess or the gum I bought, now missing out of the drawer. Whatever the infraction, my toddler emotions can quickly begin to surface in my nearly forty brain.
On a larger scale, how many times are we “sensible” adults guilty of this same way of thinking? Perhaps you’ve asked God for a spouse, a child, a home or a job. When it’s given to you, and the newness and excitement wears off, does the toddler mentality come back to the surface? Do you find yourself whining that it’s frustrating, exhausting, broken or simply not what you expected? I’ve certainly been there.
Life is hard. There is really no debate on that. Some people experience broken bananas while others would give all they have for even a slice. Amazingly, the degree of difficulty and the level of contentment are not proportional. There are those whose banana has been bruised, smashed and run over in the road, and yet they still live a life of joy and satisfaction. Then, there are others who are presented with two perfectly good halves of the banana, and yet they remain bitter that they didn’t get one that was whole.
As you make your way through today (and the rest of the week) be mindful of your thinking. Will you cry and fuss over your broken banana, or will you joyfully (and thankfully) eat every last slice with a smile on your face? The choice really is ours. Let us not only choose to snack contently, but let us be an example to the other kids around us, that can’t seem to get over their disappointment as they stare at their plates.