When I was growing up, one of the big things that me and my brother and sister fought about was the “blue bumpy bowl.” It orginally was just a big used plastic butter bin from the grocery store (Parkay maybe?) that my mom recycled into a cereal bowl. There were actually several of these bowls stacked in the cabinet to be used as cereal bowls. We had red smooth ones, red bumpy ones, yellow ones, blue smooth ones, green ones, but only ONE Blue Bumpy Bowl.
My sister, being the oldest, and thinking things out more thoroughly than her younger siblings would actually get up hours before we did just so she could have the coveted Blue Bumpy Bowl. On the mornings that we all actually got into the kitchen at the same time (which was most of the time), massive fights would break out between us over this bowl. Now, just to give you an idea about what I mean when I say massive fights– we didn’t fight like normal children. I’m not talking about just arguing here, we fought to maime and injure. Tooth and nail. It was not until I was much older that I realized that other siblings did not fight like this. To give you an idea of the brutality that went on between us, a few years ago, a childhood friend of mine confessed that she used to hide in the corner trembling when me and my sister would fight. She said that she was truly scared.
I was beat up just about every day of my life by my brother and sister (me being the youngest), and my only real defense was my teeth. And, yes, I broke skin. I made them bleed. I didn’t accomplish this too many times though because they quickly realized that if they held my forehead with the palm of their hand and then locked their elbow in place, my mouth could never reach them. As you could probably imagine this was extremely frustrating for me.
And yet, as we are all now adults, we all turned out completely normal! Well, I did at least.
Well, the tradition is carried on here by my own children (is this type of behavior really inherited?), but to a far lesser degree. The struggle is between a green bowl and a purple bowl. The purple bowl is the coveted one. These are cheap Target bowls that I bought years ago when Elizabeth and I were shopping (do you still have yours Eliz?).
Now, I am wise to this type of situation, and seeing first hand the damage a cereal bowl can do to a relationship, I stepped in early on. Every morning, I hide the two bowls behind my back and let the girls take turns (by morning) picking an arm. There may be tears (usually by the little one), but at least it’s not because of pain. Since there is no such thing as “chance”, God decides who gets what bowl, and He knows best.
The system has worked out quite nicely. How do I know this? Well, let me tell you what happened this morning. It was E’s turn to pick an arm. She got the purple bowl. The little one cried. As I continued to get the breakfast things out, I asked E to put both of the bowls at their places on the table. I walked into the dining room with the box of cereal to find E standing there with an almost shy look on her face. I looked around quickly to try and figure out why she had that look on her face. Then I noticed that she has placed the purple bowl infront of R’s chair and put the green one at her own. R came in to see what her big sister had done and gave her a big hug and a thank you.
“…by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” ~Acts 20:35