Last night, my 7-year-old Spiderman wasn't being very nice to his brother. Earlier in the evening the boys had started to argue a bit and Spiderman kicked The Hulk in the nose. His nose promptly started bleeding. Now, to be honest, my boys get bloody noses often. Their dad was the same way as a kid, and the dry climate we live in doesn't help much. I was only a room or two away and didn't hear any arguing. I think they just started to get on one another's nerves and Spiderman used physical force instead of his words.
I sent Spiderman to his room for about 10 minutes while I stopped the Hulk's bleeding. He then apologized and we moved on.
A few hours later at bedtime, Spiderman again was tormenting his brother. This time he took off one of the Hulk's band-aids. This time I sent him to the chair in the living room. Superman and I were trying to install all the air conditioners, so I was too busy (and frankly, too angry) to deal with it at the time. This was at least the second time that night, and the fourth or fifth time in two days that he'd been deliberately mean to his brother. And at least the eighth time I'd sent children to bed.
About 10 minutes later, I told Spiderman (very calmly) that we needed to talk. As soon as I sat down, he started crying.
"I tried (sniff, sniff) to tell you before (WAIL!) that (gasp, gasp)..." he sobbed.
"Tried to tell me what?" I asked.
"Tried to tell you before that I was SORRY for all the bad things I've done and I want to repen-he-hent!!!!" my sweet boy cried.
I sighed. "That's great, Spiderman. You haven't been baptized yet, and you're still learning what's right and wrong. But you're getting close to baptism and so I'm glad you want to repent. Do you want to say a prayer? You can tell Heavenly Father you're sorry and ask him to help you do better," I told him.
He told me that he'd already said a prayer, but I asked him if he'd say another one. He tearfully agreed.
"Dear Heavenly Father, we're thankful for today. I'm sorry that I do bad things. Please help me to be good. I'm sorry that I hurt my brother. Please help him feel better and help me to do good things. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen," he prayed.
I gave my son a hug and asked if he felt better. He said he felt a little better. We talked about the fact that the boys play flight a lot, and maybe we should not do that so much.
"Sometimes it's just hard," Spiderman sniffed.
"I know it's hard. But you asked Heavenly Father to help you, and I know He will. Should we go apologize to your brother?"
The Hulk had already fallen asleep, so Spiderman just went to bed, too.
Rearing children in righteousness isn't easy. It isn't for the faint of heart, and you can't be lazy about it. It's hard work, but I know that our Father in Heaven wants us to succeed, and He WILL help us. And every now and then, we're rewarded with moments like these that remind us of why we do what we do.