It had been a long day. In addition to my usual morning barf session in the downstairs bathroom, I had a child with strep throat, I had read far too many blog entries by women who had lost babies, and generally speaking I was not in the mood.
Ryan and I are too much alike, or something. He seems to know exactly what to do to get under my skin, and he was doing it. Whining. Arguing. Complaining. Stomping off in a huff. Crying for no reason that I could think of.
And then, I had to inform him of the worst of it.
Wednesday nights in our house mean AWANA at church. Sam goes to Cubbies and Ryan is in his first year in Sparks. If you’re not familiar with AWANA, it’s a kids’ club designed to teach kids the Bible and get them into church. Ryan loves AWANA.
Sam had already been informed that, even though he was feeling very much better, the germies were still alive so he couldn’t go to Cubbies that night. Ryan, however, was planning to go and to bring a friend.
When you’re in Sparks, you get a workbook that has verses to memorize, or other assignments to do. Each of these is called a section. When you finish a group of sections, you get a jewel for a pin that you wear on your vest. Ryan had a section in his book for that week called “Bring a friend.” That sparkly elusive red jewel would be his when he marched in the church doors with Hayden in tow.
Except Hayden wasn’t coming. And it was my fault. I had meant to call all week, I really had. But the week had been so crazy and then Sam had gotten sick and there was, of course, the barfing and the placenta brain and, well, I hadn’t called his mom until 4:00 that afternoon and she had never called me back.
Ryan could not be expected to take this like a man. Only one week previously he had been all set to bring his buddy Pierce to Sparks, but then Pierce’s mom had changed her mind at the last minute because it’s a late night out.
The tears flowed. The angry words spouted from his mouth like the dirty water out of a storm drain.
He couldn’t stop, couldn’t calm himself down. He was driving me crazy, and I didn’t have time for it.
So I did what any good mother who had made a serious mistake and possibly ruined her five year old son’s life would do. I sent him to bed and left for church alone.
I was less than halfway there when I wanted to turn around. Does that make it better? I had responsibilities at church that night, but it was all I could do to not to pull a u-turn on that county road.
The truth of the matter was that I didn’t want my kindergarten son to hold me accountable for the fact that I had messed up. And while he probably shouldn’t have freaked out as much, I was the one to blame for what happened that night, because I hadn’t called Hayden’s mom when I should have. And then, when he was justifiably upset because his plans had been ruined for the second week in a row– Ryan is very big about plans– I shut him out.
Sometimes I forget what a big deal little things are to a little person. And with this little person, especially, who gets under my skin and makes me crazy so easily, I really tend to forget that he is just a little boy, a little boy who needs comfort and love and compassion when disappointments happen.
I left church early that evening, after my responsibilities had been dealt with. Came home to find the boys up in their room but not asleep.
I crawled into bed with my older son, my tender-hearted, smart, funny, amazing son whom I love so very, very much. I told him I loved him and I was sorry and that I was so thankful that he’s my boy. And he hugged me back, and kissed me, and told me he loved me and that he was thankful I’m his mommy.
Isn’t it amazing how easily they forgive? How quickly they desire to be restored to love and kisses again? If an adult had treated me that way I would have had a much harder time forgiving.
I often hear people say that parents should be an example of God’s love and grace to their children, but more often than not, my children teach me about grace.
And for those lessons, even when they mean my humiliation, I am thankful.