One evening, I set the food on the table and told the children to dig in. After glancing at the dishes, the boy frowned. I could see that he disliked them, but I thought: You are always being particular about food. This time, I must make you eat these dishes somehow. So, I said sternly, “Don’t be picky. Your mommy and daddy have said that there is nourishment in every dish and the children who are fussy with their food will suffer from malnutrition and their physical growth will be affected. So, you must eat them. Otherwise, I’ll call your mother.” The boy pleaded, “Auntie, I have a slight headache. Can I eat less?” “No, you must eat up the food I have served to you. I know you like playing petty tricks. If there are dishes you dislike, you will refuse to eat them on the pretext that you have a headache. Don’t try to trick me.” I said. Although reluctant to eat, he still finished the food. Seeing this, I was secretly happy, thinking that he was now a little more obedient than before. However, not long after the dinner, he vomited in the bathroom. Only then did I realize that he was really ill and that I was wrong. So, I hastened to apologize to him, “I’m really sorry. I was wrong about you. I shouldn’t have forced you to eat.” He said, “Auntie, I feel better after vomiting. I’m all right now. Not to worry.” His not complaining to me made me feel more reproached: I’m always revealing Satan’s disposition of arrogance and self-righteousness, and it now has brought harm to the boy. How can my disposition change so that I can get along with them?
After going back home, I opened up the words of God, and read what God said, “You absolutely must not stand in the position of a parent, and must not hold your children back, fetter them, or try to control everything about them. You should treat them as equals. You should allow them to make mistakes, to say the wrong things, to do childish and immature things, and to do stupid things. No matter what happens, you should sit down and calmly talk with them, and seek the truth. In this way, you will be talking to them with the right attitude, and the problem will be resolved. What are you letting go of here? You are letting go of the position and status of a parent, the airs of a parent, and all of the responsibility you think you should assume as a parent; instead, it is enough that you do the best you can in terms of responsibility as an ordinary brother or sister.”
Reflecting on these God’s words, I discovered the source of my own problem. I understood the reason why it was so hard for me to get along well with the two children was that I always interacted with them from a position higher than them. Because their mother left them in my charge, plus I was dominated by my arrogant disposition, I considered that the two children should obey me and do what I said. I always tried to control and restrain them according to my own thoughts, yet had never opened my heart to them or taken into consideration their feelings. Consequently, they kept their distance from me, got sick of me, and even acted against me. Nevertheless, I had never looked for the reason within myself but always thought the children were too naughty and did not understand things.
Thanks to God’s enlightenment and illumination, I also found the way to get on with the two children: I should not see myself as their elder to control them, but instead should let go of the position of their elder, stand on an equal footing with them, treat them as my friends, and open my heart and talk from the heart with them. They are just kids, it is normal for them to not understand things, to be willful and naughty, and to make mistakes. When they make mistakes, what I should do is to communicate with them calmly and help them with love, so that they can feel that I am considerate toward them and that I am doing so for their own good. Only this way will our relationship be harmonious.
Afterward, I began to try to talk from the heart with them. I would show my concern for them and ask whether they were bullied by their classmates in their school, whether they needed me to assist them with their homework. I would also ask what they liked to eat and what they liked to play. After I knew something of their likes, I began to cook the food they liked. Sometimes, I would play hide and seek with them as I did the housework. They had great fun and I was also very happy. Besides, during dinner, I would talk with them and listen to their opinions about the dishes and would not compel them to eat the food they disliked.
Growing children need to have a balanced diet. However, the little girl disliked meat and only ate vegetables. She said, “Eating meat will easily make me put on weight. If my figure becomes bad, I won’t be beautiful.” I said to her with patience, “You are still a child. You need to have a balanced diet and then you’ll grow taller. If you are short after you grow up, you won’t be beautiful, right? Believe me, as long as you eat a balanced diet, you won’t get fat.” Like this, I was coaxing and reasoning with her, and she was finally willing to eat meat. The little boy was the opposite of his sister; he did not like eating vegetables and only ate meat. Then I said to him, “In fact, vegetables are rich in vitamins. If one’s body is low in these vitamins, he will be malnourished and thus will not grow up big and strong. So, it’s not good to merely eat meat.” After understanding this general knowledge of life, he was willing to eat vegetables. In addition, when they said that they were really full, I would no longer force them to eat more. During dinner, I also made them have a contest to see who was the first to finish his or her meal, and the winner would be given a little award. In this way, they gradually get rid of the bad habit of behaving badly at table. Previously, it would take an hour and a half for them to finish their dinner, but now it only took half an hour.
What delighted me more was that they were much more sensible than they used to be. When I made dumplings, they would stand at my side watching and learning, and they soon learnt how to knead and roll out the dough. After that, each time I made dumplings, they would give me a hand voluntarily. And the boy would even pour a drink for me and ask me with concern, “Auntie, would you prefer cold or warm water?” In addition, the two kids would actively help me wash the dishes, sweep the floor, wipe the table, and pick up their toys, so I could leave off work on time. Later on, when seeing that the two kids were no longer naughty or picky about food, and that there were some changes in their living habits, their parents were very glad and increased my pay.
Once, I took two days off because I got a cold and was coughing. The girl asked her mother to call my telephone, and she said to me, “Auntie, is your cold getting any better? My mom says it’s because we are too naughty that you don’t come to cook for us. You will come, right? My elder brother and I both miss you. When will you come here? We’ll be good kids, so would you come as soon as you can?” These words moved me very much. I felt the two children were actually very naive and simple, and that later I should take better care of them and be more considerate toward them.
From then on, the two children no longer kept their distance from me, no longer laughed at me, nor would they roll their eyes upward at me. Now, every time when they return home from school, they will give me a cuddle after putting down their schoolbags, saying, “Auntie, we missed you.” When it’s time for me to get off work, they will see me to the door and say goodbye to me. And several times, they were unwilling to let me leave and pestered me to take them to my place. Their mother said to me, “My children have a deep affection for you. And they have really changed a lot.” I know that it was not I who changed them. It was the guidance of God’s words that enabled me to let go of my wrong views. When I treated them according to God’s requirements rather than based on my corrupt disposition, the children changed. All of this was done by God. All the glory be to God!
Part One: After I Practice God’s Words in My Work … (I)