Today, my little man, you had a bit of a meltdown. It was short lived but fierce. A nice man bought us a package of cookies at the cheese store and the owners wife who was waiting on us, but usually doesn't, forgot your sucker. You would think delicious almond, buttery cookies would far surpass the dumdum sucker that you usually get, but it didn't.
I was so thankful that you waited until we were outside to express your disappoint and anger at not being given a sucker. But not thankful enough......I was so very angry at your attitude. You stood outside the van door and screamed NO! You were ticked off and wanted everyone to know it. Here I thought that we could get in the car and you and Francesca would be able to enjoy one of the cookies that this generous stranger had purchased for us.......but no. I was mad. I told you I was mad and that I was disappointed and beyond that I didn't have words because I was so put off by your ungracious attitude. I wanted to be the cliche parent and tell you that some people don't have any food, that people are hurt and sick and have no hope and you are getting upset over a dumdum sucker. But I didn't. I drove on to the next stop. At some point during the drive, the silent drive, I look back. You had mumbled something. I ask - what?
I'm sorry, mom.
I look back again. I see a genuinely sad face. You say it again. It sounds like you mean it.
Oh I was so proud of you, my boy.
You see I never expected to have perfect children. Well, after the first one, the reality setting in of what parenting looked like, after that short moment in time, I didn't expect perfection. I know that you'll mess up, that mistakes will be made. I know that emotions are crazy things and expectations can cause a mess of emotions to flare up. I get it. I know that we will have to work with you, teach you, guide you how to harness those feelings and emotions and go about expressing them in a more constructive manner. I get it. I am 34 and I still get mad and I want to scream and I want to say NO and I want to bang things and you know what........I do sometimes. I just have a better way of disguising it than you do because I am 34 and not 4. Sometimes when you hear a bang and I say it's the door slamming on accident or something falling on the floor........well, the door had help in getting slammed, the something had help making it to the floor.
So, buddy, today when you got mad and screamed no and acted in a way that was ungracious I was disappointed but still I loved you. It didn't matter in the long run. We are working on it. We are working on teaching you to appreciate what you have, to be content with what God has given you. We'll get there. Look around you, buddy, there are people who are decades ahead of you and still struggle with contentedness. What impressed me so much and made me smile was your repentant heart.
You amaze me.
I have seen it before with you. You are learning what it took me so long to learn, what I still am working on. You know what it means to be sorry, genuinely sorry, and to give voice to it. I love that. I love that I didn't threaten or cajole or tell you that you had to apologize. You knew what had to be done and you did it. There was no expectation after you said it either. You didn't ask for a cookie or ask if you'll get a sucker next time. That is what I expect. Never perfection - yet the ability to acknowledge when you make a mistake, when you are wrong and be able to make amends, to apologize. That's a hard thing to do.
You have a good heart, buddy, a big heart. Thanks for showing me how it's done :)