The bathroom mirror is communal territory, I figure. What my son does with his bedroom is on him, as long as there’s no contraband. But the large round looking glass with frosted floral margins affixed to the bathroom wall is as necessary to me as it is to him. Why, then, must I look at a toothpaste-splattered reflection every morning when I wash my face or comb my hair?
The trouble is that the moment one walks away from a mirror, one forgets it (which is not precisely the point in James 1:23-24, but it is related). So although during the time I am brushing my own teeth, I am filled with resolve to address this housekeeping matter with my son, as soon as I walk out the door, I forget.
One day I caught him upstairs with me and said, “Would you mind not getting right up to the mirror when you clean your pearly whites, so that you don’t spray all over it?” “Sure, Mom,” he replied, and that was that. I tore a paper towel from the closet dispenser, retrieved Windex from under the sink, and did a beautification job. But the next day the speckled design was back again. I mentioned the issue once more, but with no amelioration of the situation.
I remember the words of a friend who long ago as a newlywed went to her mother with a complaint about her husband, and was told by her mother what to do: “Tell him your concern—once—and after that just pray for him.” It was her mother’s sage antidote to nagging, which I think we will all agree is a much worse offense than bathroom mirror desecration.
If I thought for a minute that my son’s tooth-brushing habit was hostile and deliberate, I would confront it more tenaciously. But I believe the guy just forgets. So if the matter should come to mind again, I will address the behavior if he is in earshot. But, considering the minor degree of the offense, I am also prepared to simply file this situation under the following:
“… bearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).
And I keep a few paper towels in the cupboard directly under the sink for easy access, right next to the Windex.