Just What He Deserved

I know it was bad timing, but I couldn’t help myself.  I flung open the bathroom door as my husband was helping my son brush his teeth before bed, broken baby-doll stroller in hand.

“I told you to be gentle,” I said, using my firm, I’m-not-playing-around voice. “Now your sister’s stroller is broken.  You are not allowed to play with it anymore.”

My son does not like to be told he was wrong and he really does not like to be “yelled” at.  The fact that I did both immediately set him off.  Had I taken a moment to think things through, I’d have known it would be better to have this conversation in the morning after we’d both had a good night sleep.  Instead, I got him all worked up right before bed–smart move, Mom.

“Oh yeah? Well, you’re the worst mom ever!  You know what I’m gonna do?  I’m gonna…”.  My five-year-old let me know exactly what he was going to do, using every “bad” word he has learned from kindergarten this year: stupid, hate, and everything in between.

“Stop,” I said.  “We don’t talk like that.  I’m just letting you know not to touch the stroller any more.”

My son takes after me in that he always wants the last word.  He dropped his toothbrush and stepped back from the sink, about to continue his tirade when the back of his legs bumped into the toilet bowl and he fell in with a splash. Into the water he had just peed in.  And hadn’t flushed yet!

His eyes grew round as saucers as he realized what just happened.  The look on his face was priceless.  My mind momentarily considered my next moves, but I didn’t have to think about it for long.  The sight of him sitting in the toilet was hilarious.  I couldn’t help but laugh. “Well, I think you got just what you deserved,” I giggled, breaking the struggle the had ensued just moments before.

My son seemed relieved that I wasn’t mad about the toilet incident and started to laugh, too.  I took his hand and helped him out of the toilet, grabbing towels off the towel rack for him to stand, dripping, on.  As I peeled off his wet clothes, discarding them in the bathtub, we replayed with words and laughed about what had just happened.  After a quick rinse in the shower, he pulled on clean pajamas, finished brushing his teeth, and was ready for bed.

“I’m serious, though, no more rough-play with your sister’s stroller,” I said as I gave him a goodnight hug.

“Okay, Mommy,” he replied, hugging me back.  “Best Mommy ever!”

One point for Mom!  But I think the toilet deserves to be named MVP.

 

OLW 2017

OLW.

One Little Word.

Ever since I joined the TWT Slice of Life writing community last March, I’ve been reading about other people’s OLW. Over the course of the year I gathered that it was a word chosen and a “theme” for the year, both personally and professionally.

Just like the March SOL challenge kept calling me, so has OLW.  So I’m doing it.  I made a list, narrowed it down, and settled on my own One Little Word for 2017:

CONNECT

This year I want to put my energy into meaningful connections.  Connect with myself.  Connect with my husband and children.  Connect with friends, old and (hopefully) new.  Connect with the teachers and students I work with.  Connect new learning to old learning.  Help others connect.

Connect.  We’ll see where this goes.

CONNECT

 

The Heart of a 5-Year-Old

At the beginning of winter break, my 5-year-old son took a momentary break from his Christmas-induced, self-centered, present-obsessed state and asked me, “Mom, can we set up a stand to give homeless people things they need like food, clothes, a job, money, and other stuff?”

My mommy-heart swelled as I replied, “That’s a great idea, Buddy!  But instead of making our own stand, I’ll call Grandpa and see when his church is making dinner for the homeless again.  Maybe we can go help, too.”

And that is how Buddy Boy and I ended up helping serve dinner to over 100 homeless people the day after Christmas.  I glanced in my rear-view mirror on our way and saw my 5-year-old boy beaming with a smile that stretched from ear to ear.  “I can’t wait to help the homeless people!” he told me in an excited voice.

We pulled into the parking lot under the interstate downtown where different groups serve dinner four nights a week at a location called The Lord’s Table.  There were benches and tables set up in a fenced off area of the parking lot. The gates were wide open, and there were several people inside the area setting up the serving tables while the line of people who came for dinner started getting longer and longer.

“How do we know who are the homeless people and who are the workers?” Buddy Boy asked as we got out of the car.

Caught off guard, I had to think for a moment about how to answer his innocent question. “Well, the homeless people are the people who come through the line to get dinner.”

The food was set up and ready to serve: hot rice, beef and vegetable stew, fruit salad, buttered bread, and cookies.  Buddy Boy and I were given the job of handing out sandwiches and oranges for people to take with them for later.  As each person came through the line, Buddy Boy picked up a sandwich, looked him or her in the eye, and asked, “Would you like a sandwich?”  The best part, though, was watching everyone’s response to his simple question.  Without fail, each person perked up upon seeing and hearing Buddy Boy and his sandwiches.  Most people gave him a big smile and a hearty “thank you.”  He was like a warm light in the cold and rainy night.

After the last meal was served and the area was cleaned, Buddy Boy and I got in our car to head home.  A few of the last people who came for dinner were still in the parking lot, sitting on the curb eating or talking in small groups.  As we pulled out of the lot, I saw Buddy Boy watching them out his window.

“I wish I could give them a job,” he said, his voice twinged with sadness.

“Me, too,” I murmured.  “Maybe someday you’ll have a way to do that.  But for tonight, at least we know that everyone who came had a hot, healthy meal and they have a sandwich they can eat for breakfast in the morning.”

He thought about that for a minute before asking, “Mommy, can we come back with Grandpa every time?”

My initial thought, as I looked at the clock that read 8:50, was no, it’s too late for a school night.  But as I thought about the evening, about Buddy Boy’s genuine desire to help others and his ability to give people going through tough times a reason to smile, I thought to myself maybe one late night a month isn’t that big of a deal.  As I thought about how I hadn’t once heard a selfish word come out of his mouth the entire evening, I thought to myself maybe one late night a month isn’t that big of a deal.  And as I thought about the person I want my son to grow into, I thought to myself one late night a month isn’t that big a deal.

“We’ll come again, definitely,” I finally answered.