Because of my job, I have to leave Evan at school at 7AM. Understand he goes to a wonderful private Montessori school. Most mornings, he begs me to stay for a little while, anticipating this, we get there earlier and talk or draw or he shows me his class work for a while, I can't handle the 'dump and run' thing either. And my day is usually haunted by a measure of guilt that I am unable to be a stay at home mom, and must take advantage of the 'extended day' offered at this lovely school. By the time I leave my office (@3:40) I am usually a bit frantic to get to him, where for the last few weeks I have been greeted with -at best- apathy. Sigh.
Yesterday, I got to school, admired the masterpiece he had made in Art Club, and on the way to the car, he asks if we can go to Publix, "no, tootsie, not this time" which precipitates him THROWING his water bottle across the parking lot, and yelling at me that I am being mean and I don't understand, etc etc. I get him in the car, trying desperately to cover my threatening to leak tears and hurt feelings, and speak in a calm and peaceful voice with all the usual platitudes conveying my understanding of his frustrations, etc etc ad nauseum. My son doesnt behave like this, yes he whines, yes he gets angry, but he does not throw things and scream. It continues in the car, I cannot take it, I YELL at him that he may not speak to me this way, its hurtful, disrepectful, and cruel. He starts to cry. OMG I SUCK. SO BAD.
So I pull over, park, get out of the car, and go around to his seat, open the door, give him a big hug, and explain about how much that hurt me when he screams that I am mean, that much of my day is spent thinking of how soon I can pick him up and spend time, even if we dont get to do anything but go home and make dinner or do homework. Being a family isnt always about having fun, its about the mundane things we do to take care of each other too. It's about love, laundry, cooking, making lunches and innumerable snacks, it's about the dishes, and hugs, kisses and tickle fests, it's about cleaning crud from the bath, walking the dog and bedtime stories. He kisses me and apologizes. I kiss him back and apologize.
The rest of the way home, we talk about little things, carefully skirting the mutual meltdown. At bedtime, we are laying there talking, and come to find out, he'd had a tough day at school. He was embarrassed with his school project- which he did mostly by himself as opposed to many of the others having serious parental involvement. He did a great job on it for a 6 yr old. He also got in trouble for not being able to be still on 'line' while others were giving their presentations, and subsequently was not allowed the 5 extra minutes of playtime. This is seriously tragic stuff for a 6 year old. I explained that while his project may not have looked as cool, it was a better job simply because he had done it alone-mostly. I explained that the kids who had not the the work themselves were the ones who lost out on the cool feeling of having done it yourself. We talked about having respect for others when they have their moment in the sun. We talked about me not pausing to think that maybe he'd had a tough day. We both promised to try to do better. We forgave each other.
And suddenly I didn't suck quite so badly.
And I am grateful for that.