Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mr. Stinky Attitude

Our morning went as usual yesterday. Breakfast had been eaten, bible read, prayers said, girls dressed. Dishes were being put away. Silver spoons transferred to their familiar dwelling place, see-through drinking glasses lined in a row, earth-colored plates stacked like a tower, familiar little-girl chit-chat mixed in with mama's frequent reminders to stay on task, baby--sitting at counter--contemplating the ingesting of the washrag, now that her bananas were finished.

Then it struck. Like a poison. It started first as an indignant shout. From one sister to another. Rights had been violated. Feelings hurt. Indignant shout was justified by the sender.

What if she was allowed this?

What if she continued this way through her life?

See the lake of bodies in her path. See the broken bridges. See the disarray.

I sighed. I hadn't wanted to mention the visitor that had come to stay with me for far too long. I had wanted to keep him a secret. I didn't want anyone to know he had been allowed in my home. But I have a responsibility to share with the girls what could happen if they let him come and stay with them. Stooping low, anguish eyes meeting sullen eyes. My beloved daughter, let me tell you a story.

When I was a young girl, much like yourself, I heard a loud rasp at my door. I opened up the door wide and there stood a boy, with a crisp, white shirt. He had nice pants on, too. His shoes had just been shined. He asked if he might come in for just a minute or two.

"What do you think I said?" I asked the wide eyes staring at me.

"I don't know," she whispered.

I told the boy to come on in! I made him comfortable, gave him some lemonade to drink. I put his feet up on a stool, and I asked him to stay awhile. And you know what? He did! He stayed, and he stayed and he stayed. No longer, though, did he have a crisp white shirt or shiny shoes. Over time, his shirt had became crumpled and stained, his shoes were in tatters. He slept on the couch day after day after day and made a complete mess of my house. Garbage was everywhere. And he was mean! He had a stinky attitude. His attitude was so stinky and he made such a mess that I started calling him Mr. Stinky Attitude. With Stinky Attitude around, my house just got messier and messier and he started moving around to other parts of my house, messing things up. After while it was hard to go visit my sister and my friends and my parents, because of the mountain of mess in the way.

"I'm not talking about my house, am I?" I asked my girl.

"No, you're talking about your heart," she said with a sheepish look.

"yes," I said.

Amazement set in. She understood that. But of course, maybe because she recognizes the story. Don't we all?

I continued.

I had all but given up. I thought Stinky Attitude was going to stay in my house, making messes, forever. I forgot I had asked him to come in. If I had asked him in to my house, surely I could ask him to leave. I finally got the courage to ask Mr. Stinky Attitude to leave. He didn't want to. I had to drag him out. And let me tell you--he didn't go quietly. He hung on to the door jam and finally I had to kick him out. And he didn't take his mess with him, either. I had to clean up after him. And it took awhile. Huge black garbage bags filled. Filled with tears, shouts, hurt feelings, mean looks, cross eyes, slumped shoulders, screeches, scalding voices, muted ears, padlocks, stomping shoes, slammed doors, and self-righteousness. When it was finally cleaned, I looked around with gratitude. I had forgotten what it was like to have a place to stay and rest and be happy; a place to give joy--not take joy away--from my loved ones. I finally was able to go visit with my sister and my parents. I even saw my friends again. During the time I was cleaning, Mr. Stinky Attitude kept rasping at my door. Every day I had to tell him to go away. He got in a couple of times. But I remembered what would happen if I let him stay.

I prayed and asked for help. I asked God to keep Mr. Stinky Attitude away for good. He helped me do that.

Oh, he still knocks at my door. And he even comes in and tries to stay. But I pray and God helps me get him out and he stays out when I do that.

I look at my daughter. Furrowed brow and hard eyes are gone. In it's place: tender looks and a repentant heart. Other daughter has eyes wide with excitement. She is bursting. I can see wheels turning. She runs and grabs a scrap of paper. On it she draws a face with it's tongue sticking out. She asks me to write a note to Mr. Stinky Attitude. So we can tape it to our door (heart), reminding him to keep away. So we do.

I'm not sure the tongue sticking out is the non-stinky way to ask Mr. Stinky Attitude to stay away, but I guess we'll find out. :o)

Mr. Stinky Attitude--You do NOT live here!

Reposting this for Imperfect Prose Thursdays over at Emily's! Need to do a little "housekeeping" this week! ;O)


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