Monday, March 22, 2010

What Parent Books Won't Teach You

Not talking politics today so don't bring it up.--Sherry

Today, my son had a wardrobe problem.  Specifically, he was very angry with his pants.  

"They're too long on the inside." he whined as I pointed out that they were 1) clean 2) his size and 3) relatively new. 

When he suspected I wasn't really moved by his complaint, he added, "They hurt me on my leg and pointed to a discreet place on his shins and they're itchy and they don't work."    Now I am working on not allowing the practical gritch to marshall through issues like this using emotional brute force.  Making said child get dressed by barking, "Just put the things on!" was my first, second and frankly third and fourth thought when considering options.  

Reminding myself that this person does not care that I think their problem is completely irrational and unreasonable, and that not seeing that they think this is insurmountable makes ME the irrational and unreasonable one in the senario, I told him to go to the bathroom and wait.   A quick survey of the laundry indicated there wasn't a Miss Congeniality version of uniform attire waiting and ready to take the dethroned pants' place.   I turned the pants inside out to see if there was in fact a reasonable reason for the pants being so  unsuitable.  Alas, there was no discernable reason that an adult could fathom why these clothes were so unacceptable today as versus last week when they were just pants.

Racking my brain for alternatives, I could 1) bluff and say this is a different pair of pants that I just got out of the laundry basket and hope he bought it; 2) insist on putting them on and pay the emotional consequence cost of having a miserable son cry about his mean mommy forcing him to get dressed or 3) somehow make the salespitch of my life to get the wearer and the said navy slacks reunited and in accord with one another.

Taking a deep breath because I knew option 1 wouldn't work since he had already done a search for an alternative pair, and because option 2 was really really really tempting; I knocked on the door.  "I want to talk to you." I said.  His eyes were a little wet from the struggle of that morning already.   "Can we try them on so I can see what's wrong?" I pleaded.   The seconds went by and I waited.  Like hooking a fish, if you pull up too quickly, you lose.   He nodded and I left the room.

Five seconds later, there was a knock and my heart sank.  "Can you come in Mom?" he asked.  This was it, he had changed his mind and I was going to have to do a grafting of those darn things onto my kid's legs.  I opened the door and there he stood, dressed. 

"Oh!" I beamed.  "You look nice!" He flowered into a smile. 
"Yeah, I thought these pants were too big."
"But it turns out you grew a bit bigger." I added hastily. 
"Yes, it must be because I'm six now." he explained. 
"That must be it." I nodded.

"It's funny." he added. "I've tried these pants on 1000 times and they've never fit."

Deciding not to correct him on his memory, I kissed his cheek and said, "Guess you need to try One Thousand and One times." 

Going down the stairs, I mused over what all had happened in the span of ten minutes.  1) I'd kept my Lenten resolution 2) He'd gotten dressed and 3) we'd experienced a touch of wisdom that seemed likely to stick if not for him, for me.   Feeling very satisfied, I started making lunches.  But the battle of virtue over orriginal sin within  the heart goes on undeterred.  When one opportunity for suffering and sin has instead become a moment for grace, a new opportunity must be presented.

"Mommmmmm?  I can't find any socks."


Cathy D. said...

I love the blog. I found your link from Creative Minority Report. My 13 year old has morning melt downs. One day, when he was particularly angry (over uncooperative hair and contact lenses) he came stomping out to the car. After he climbed in, I meant to reprimand him for his display of anger. Somehow, instead, I had the grace to say very calmly, "I know you're upset. If you can manage to keep a more even keel over these things, everyone's morning will be better and you will go off to school in a better mood." Usually I respond to his anger with my own impatience. That day, something changed. And it totally improved everyone's mood. On the way to the school drop off, I thanked God for the grace He gave me that morning.

Maria Fernanda McClure said...

nice one, Sherry...

My five year old was helping me in the laundry room the other day (a gift in itself) when she mentioned that we should not use the dryer because, "it's not very green". To appease her, I hung all of her clothes up to dry.

This morning while she was getting dressed she was complaining about something itchy in her shirt.
Remembering your post (which I read yesterday) I kept my patience - but just figured she'd get over it.

Ten minutes later, she was still going on about something uncomfortable in her tagless, 100% cotton, right-size uniform shirt.
Again... to appease her, I removed her jumper and the offending shirt.

Good thing. Apparently one of those ubiquitous stink bugs had crawled into her shirt while it was hanging to dry.

Bet I can go back to using that dryer now...

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