Ever have one of those moments with your kids that makes you laugh, but also makes you cringe or ache just a little inside? On one hand, the comment or thing they did was really quite cute and innocent. On the other hand, you wonder if there isn't a nugget of truth sneaking out. Perhaps there is more to the comment than meets the eye. You know, like, when my angel of a girl, Eliana, patted my tummy and said, "you look fat, Mommy." There was no maliciousness meant in it. It was kind of cute and funny, but there was a silent sting that came with it. Ken quickly reassured me that in no way, shape or form did I look fat, but the unintentional punch had already landed. Or, for example, like the time my wise eldest son Zac said, "Miss Deanne makes way better brownies than you." Huh. Does she now? Well, this morning I had one of those moments with my love of a son, Benjamin.
I had not yet rolled out of bed when Ben came snuggling in beside me. I LOVE it when Ben cuddles in next to me like that. It is one of the few times when he remains still, quiet, and close...simply wanting to connect physically and emotionally to his momma. Thinking I would give him the best start ever to his day, I quietly announced, "Guess what, Benjamin?...Today, I am taking you in early to school for 'Goodies with a Great Gal.'" "Oh. You are?" replied Ben with a hint of excitement, but questioning in his voice. "Yes, I sure am," I say confidently. "Do you want to?" he asked. "Oh, yes, very much so," I smiled. "I didn't know we had that today," said Ben. "Yep, we do. It will be fun. Donuts, games, movies..." "Well, okay then. Nice!"
A minute or two passed while we quietly lay there a little longer. Then it came. "You know, Mom, I think I'd rather take the bus today." Not sure he understood me...or that I understood him, I said, "oh... But if you take the bus, then I won't be there with you for treats." "I know," he said, "I just really want to ride the bus this morning.... I don't like Kid's Company and I just want to ride the bus." "But you don't have Kid's Company...you will have donuts and Mom and games and movies...." (I should explain here that Kid's Company is the before school care that Ben attends three days a week. He does not really mind it, but on those three days, he does not take the bus. And, Ben LOVES riding the bus.) "I know," he restated, "but if I go, I won't get to ride the bus and I have Kid's Company tomorrow." "Oh...okay...well, if you really don't want to go have donuts with me, you don't have to. But you need to make sure Dad can stay long enough to get you on the bus....if he can then, then you can stay and go on the bus..."
Ben lingered a little longer next to me, despite my gentle encouragement to go find out if our change of plans would work for everyone involved. My hunch is, in his silence and waiting, he was conflicted and torn...I want to be with Mom, but boy do I ever want to be on that bus, with my friends, with my increasing independence.... Finally, in the end, the bus won out and off he went to clear the plan with Ken. I followed a minute behind him as I could hear the confusion in Ken's voice. I explained the situation to Ken, smiling and thinking it was funny that a bus ride, which is taken 7 times a week, could possibly trump a donut. That just wouldn't happen in my world.
And yet, while I think that "bus over donuts and games" is very cute and kind of funny, a little piece of me is sad. How is it that a bus ride can also trump time with me? Thankfully, I am not so full of myself that I linger here long. I realize that the Goodies with Great Gals isn't about or for me. Nor, in fact, is the decision to ride the bus. Rather, it is about Ben desire for increased independence, familiarity and routine, fun with his bus buddies, and a little bit of control. There was nothing personal or intentionally hurtful in his choice. I know this. I should be prepared for this. And, yet, there is a momentary bite. Just momentary...at least this time. I must admit, the "you look fat, Mommy" took a little more time to get over. :)
I am sure that, in time, there will be more moments of these double edged comments from my kids or others in my life. Hopefully, as I grow older and more confident in who I am and who God made me, the sharp side will seem duller and the funny side will seem more silly. Hopefully, I will take myself less seriously and just have a bit more fun along the way. I know that if I did, we would all be a little bit happier in the end.