Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! Psalm 133:1
Although I tend to be an extreme advanced planner, the past few weeks have been so crazy that getting pumpkins for the pumpkin decorating contest at my boys’ school just fell off my plate. With a contest deadline of today, I finally got pumpkins yesterday. The actual decorating didn’t commence until last night. With it being so last minute, and it being a no-carve contest, the options were limited: If my boys painted the pumpkins, they wouldn’t be dry until this morning. Putting finishing touches on before school wasn’t an option. Also, if they made mistakes, there wasn’t time to get new pumpkins and start all over again.
So we had to compromise and improvise: If Mason wanted to make a Minion pumpkin, instead of painting him yellow, he would have to be orange “because he drank a Halloween Elixir.” If Zack wanted to make a pumpkin ghost, he’d have to do everything at once, trying to work around wet paint, with the sole exception of the eyes that I conceded he could do before school this morning, if he agreed to get up early and work fast.
Mason got started right away and was having a blast, his pumpkin coming out better than he expected. Zack, however, was not as happy. He couldn’t make the pumpkin look like the vision he had in his head. He kept getting frustrated, changing the plan, trying again, only to get frustrated and repeat the cycle over and over again. By bed time, Mason was thrilled, and Zack was in tears. We came up with the best plan we could to tweak Zack’s pumpkin in the morning, but Zack still went to bed extremely sad.
After pulling their bedroom door closed, I immediately got on the internet and scrolled through hundreds of images of no-carve ghost pumpkins to see if there was a way to salvage things. I dug up more supplies and came up with a plan.
This morning, I woke Zack at 6:30 a.m., hopeful that we could morph his pumpkin into a creepy ghost pumpkin that he’d be happy with. Zack listened to the plan, tried to be optimistic, but then burst into tears saying, “I don’t know about this.” He went on to explain, through his tears, that it’s the kids who vote on the best pumpkin. He confessed that although he had done his very best last year, not a single student had voted for his. In fact, he himself hadn’t either. Then he ended with, “I wish we didn’t get the pumpkins so late so I’d have more time.” The guilt was like a knife to my heart. I apologized profusely as I hugged him, choking back my own tears. And I prayed. I prayed so hard for God to inspire me with some creative way to save the situation. But absolutely nothing came.
I know I shelter my kids too much from disappointment. So I turned my focus towards praying for the right way and words to guide Zack through the difficult emotions he was experiencing. The hardest part for me was that although Mason had knocked it out of the park with his pumpkin, gushing about that would further rub salt in Zack’s wounds. Mason intuitively knew to “hide his light under a bushel.” He just stood before his pumpkin, gazing at it, doing his best to repress his smile and pride. I was so impressed with his consideration for his brother’s feelings.
That’s when it hit me! That’s when my prayers were answered. Mason is Zack’s #1 fan. They share everything: candy, toys, birthday gifts, even First Communion money. They never say, “Look at what I got.” It is always, “Look at what we got!”
So I volleyed the idea: What if Zack morphed his ghost pumpkin into a Minion “who drank a ghost elixir?” Immediately Mason jumped on board, convincing Zack that it was possible. Zack felt his brother’s love and support, and turned a corner. The pumpkin remodeling turned into a family affair: Zack worked on the eye, Mason worked on the arm, I fired up the glue gun, and Jocelyn danced and sang her encouragement in the background. My husband further supported the cause by making breakfast, and agreeing to drive the boys to school to buy more time and help transport the pumpkins.
The feeling in my house was more than “good and pleasant” like this scripture passage says. It was grace-filled and magical. Everyone was contributing; everyone was encouraging. Glitches still arose here and there, but we problem solved together, with Zack commenting, “That’s okay. No one will notice.”
The crowning moment was when Zack said, “The day started out with me having the worst pumpkin ever. Now it’s the greatest! But Mason, I still like yours even better.”
Sure, my kids bicker and compete against each other, like all kids do. But at the end of the day, when push comes to shove, they have a “best friends” love for each other that runs deep and true. Although this mothering gig is challenging and exhausting, getting to witness this tangible love is the reward: it humbles me, makes it all worth it, and reminds me just how truly blessed I am. “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”
Publishing this on the evening of contest day, I’m thrilled to report that Mason’s pumpkin won first prize in his class today! I cannot think of a more deserving winner than my sweet Mason!
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