My nine- and ten-year-olds came whining to me again.
"Mommy, Chalsey's taking all the LEGO blocks!"
"Davin always gets the best pieces!"
Kristy, my five-year-old was crying. "It's not fair. I want to build an airplane, but they don't want to."
This had been going on all afternoon. It was one thing after another. No matter how many toys they had, they couldn't have fun. Something was missing. I shot up a quick prayer for an illustration that would help us to get a grip on the problem.
"Who likes plain, dry pancakes?" I asked. The kids froze and looked surprised at my sudden change of subject. "Who likes plain pancakes with nothing on them—just dry, get-stuck-in-your-throat pancakes?"
"Not me!" they all cried in unison.
"I see. So when you asked me to make pancakes yesterday, you didn't want plain pancakes. You wanted pancakes and pudding." It had been a special Father's Day breakfast of hot pancakes smothered in creamy white chocolate pudding. It was a melt-in-your-mouth treat.
"And when you say you want to play with toys, you don't mean you want to play with plain toys, any more than you wanted plain pancakes. It was the pudding that made it special. Your friendship is like the pudding. Without the friendship, the game is no fun. Even if you got every LEGO piece you wanted, your playtime would still be dry. No fun. What makes it special is when you all play the game together. That's when you really have a good time. You need 'pancakes and pudding.'"
The children understood the illustration perfectly and decided to play a game together. It worked like magic. We were stuck in the house for the next few days due to bad weather, but no one seemed to mind. The children played with every game and toy in the house. Any time tempers flared, I'd tell the kids, "The pancakes need some more pudding."
As I thought more about it later, I realized that lesson wasn't only for my children. I sometimes work so hard to accomplish the goals I set for myself, and view everything else as a distraction. "I need to do this! I have to get that done!" I want plain, uninterrupted work time, and then I wonder why my work feels so dry and unenjoyable.
How often we all try to eat our pancakes dry. We put such an importance on things we need to do that we forget that pancakes aren't enjoyable without a topping. We can't let our work or play crowd out the friendships that make our lives complete.
So if you find that your day is crowded with worries, stress, and work upon work, if you feel you've lost that spark, if you're feeling a little dry, perhaps all you need is a heaping scoop of sweet, fresh "pudding" to make your day complete.