February 25, 2009

A Pool of Swatted Yogurt

2009 1506 page7 cap WATCHED MY 2-YEAR-OLD GET A YOGURT FROM THE REFRIGERATOR. She closed the door only to open it again and take a second one out. She made a big deal of vigorously shaking them, wiping the tops off with a dish towel, and asking me for two straws.

After receiving them, she put her yogurt and straw down on the table and took the other set to her 4-year-old sister. In her sweet, childish voice she said, “Here, this is for you.”
Her sister, busy playing, ignored her. A bit louder the little one tried again. In a careless move the older sibling swatted at the outstretched arm. Undeterred, the younger girl put the snack on a nearby table.
“I don’t want it,” came the perturbed reply. With another swat the open yogurt was knocked over onto the tabletop.
The younger one looked at me. I scooped her up in a fierce hug, telling her she was very nice for thinking of her sister and that I appreciated her thoughtfulness. Then, while she left to get her yogurt, I had a little chat with the older one. When she came back the older girl thanked her graciously. I know she meant it—I had only to gently open her eyes for her to see the slight for what it was.
As I wiped the table, I thought about my own self-absorbed behavior: who might I have recently swatted away? The person who kindly let me merge into traffic? The cashier who bagged my groceries just the way I like them? My husband who took the time to gather all the trash before depositing the bag outside?
Being gracious means being thankful, recognizing kind gestures for what they are, and appreciating them. And it involves reciprocity.
A pool of swatted yogurt will help me remember this.

Kimberly Luste Maran is an assistant editor of the Adventist Review.