Yesterday my sister Lindsey came over and we hosted a joint garage sale together. She had lots of enticing vintage glassware items for sale which inevitably drew Oliver in. With some of the quarters he made from hocking a few toys, he soon became the proud owner of three glass mugs. "They're for my mom," he explained to Lindsey. I'm sure he was aware somehow that this was the only way he could make her consent to selling such sparkly forbiddens to a minor. When I came back out of the house, he presented his gift to me.
[Withhold judgment here]: Preoccupied with trying to get rid of all our stuff, the blazing heat of the afternoon, and wondering what we were going to scrape up for lunch, I offered a paltry, "Oh, that's beautiful, Oliver," in one of those irritating, phony-mom voices. I had no idea what had gone on while I was in the house and wasn't sure of what he was really doing or saying. When I finally understood that he had purchased them for me, I was secretly irritated that he was accumulating more stuff while I was trying to get rid of it. Ughh. Yes - low moment.
There's more. I asked him to take the mugs into the house so they wouldn't get broken. Wait, let me help you up the stairs... "No, I can do it myself, Mom." and one fell and broke its handle. "It's OK, Mom.", he reassured me. "We can drop the other ones so they all break their handles, and then they'll be the same!"
A few lessons here:
1) I was so absorbed into myself that I missed what was really happening in those moments as they happened and so they passed me by
2) I couldn't see that I was placing more value on an object than on my son's delight
3) Children live in the moment. In fact, they are experts at it.
4) There's more than on way to interpret an event. To me, the broken handle was a misfortune that could have been prevented. To Oliver, it was an opportunity for transformation.
5) It wasn't too late to turn my mistake around
This afternoon I called Oliver into the kitchen. While some berries and yogurt were mixing in the ice-cream maker, we washed the two remaining mugs together then filled them with the frozen yogurt when it was done. "I know just the place to eat these, Mom", he said with his knowing look. "The porch swing!"
And he was right.