“OK, Mckay, it sounds like you need a time out.” Mother’s voice was smooth and calm, but Mckay could still hear the strain in it. “You two shouldn’t be acting this way.”
Mckay frowned. “Then why doesn’t Josie have to sit in a ‘quiet’ chair? She started it by calling me names.”
Mother sighed as she peeled and sliced bananas on top of the banana cream pie she was making. Instead of answering Mckay’s question, she asked him one, “How old is Josie?”
“She’s only three, but she drives me crazy,” Mckay replied, huffing the words from his mouth as if they were hot peppers.
Mother ignored his rudeness. “And how old are you, Mckay?”
Mckay swallowed some of the angry lump in his throat as he began to realize what his mother was trying to say. “I’m eight.”
Mother smiled and nodded. “Do you think that that might be why you’re sitting there, instead of Josie?”
Mckay only shrugged. Mother continued, “I think that Josie knows something is wrong, but she doesn’t quite understand what or why.” Mother slipped the pie into the refrigerator. “But you understand, right?”
Again Mckay shrugged.
“Read Josie a story, and then you may be excused,” Mother said.
Josie overheard and ran to the bookcase. She picked out her favorite story about Adam and Eve and scooted her chair next to Mckay.
As Mckay read, he knew that Josie was more interested in the pictures of the animals than the story, but he still read every word because he knew that his mother could hear.
Mckay closed the book when he’d finished. Josie opened it and begged him to read the story again. Mckay looked at Mother, who was waiting to see what he would do.
“Fine,” Mckay said. This time he simply told the story. “Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit that God told them not to eat. As a result, they knew right from wrong and they had to leave the Garden of Eden, and that’s the end.”
Josie giggled, “Read again.”
This time Mckay grumbled, “Mom, do I have to?”
“I don’t think she minds your quick version,” Mother said with a smile. “But there’s one thing that you could add this time.”
“You forgot the part where Adam and Eve told the Lord they had eaten of the fruit. They understood that they had made the choice to disobey one law to obey another, and that they were accountable for that choice, right?”
Mckay was thoughtful as he looked at the picture of Adam and Eve leaving the garden. They knew what they had done, and they were ready to accept the consequences of their choice. In other words, they were ready to do whatever Heavenly Father said that they needed to do now. McKay had never thought of it that way before.
“They don’t look happy and carefree anymore, do they?” Mother asked.
Mckay flipped the pages back to the beginning of the book. His mother was right. At the start of the story, they looked different—sort of like Josie.
Mckay was quiet all through dinner. He thought of his baptism, remembering how long he had waited to be eight so that he could be accountable. For the first time, he was thankful that Heavenly Father had made him wait to be baptized until he truly understood that he was responsible for his own choices.
When Mother passed out the banana cream pie, Josie couldn’t wait politely for Mother to help her eat her piece. She quickly grabbed it and started eating with both hands.
“Oh, Josie,” Mother gently scolded. “What a mess!” She wiped Josie’s hands and mouth and changed her bib.
Mckay ate his piece as quickly as he could. He dropped a gooey banana on his shirt.
“What a mess!” Josie repeated to her mother as she pointed at Mckay’s dirty shirt.
Taking his napkin, Mckay wiped his shirt clean, smiled, and simply said, “Yep, but I’m old enough to know when I’ve made a mess, and I take care of it the best I can.”
“Mess all gone!” Josie clapped her hands in surprise as if she thought the shirt had been cleaned by magic.
Mckay laughed, “Wait till you’re eight, little sister. Then you’ll get to clean up your messes, too.”
Mother smiled and winked at Mckay. “That’s right, Josie. Just wait.”