Some days I am certain I am not qualified enough to be a parent. On those days, I can’t seem to do or say the right thing. And, reminiscent of that scene in the film Parenthood, I half expect that one day one of my sons will climb to the top of a bell tower and open fire on an unsuspecting crowd simply because I messed him up so badly. Who knows? Maybe the other one will be up in the bell tower too, egging him on and cursing me out? Yesterday, however, was not one of those days. Yesterday I got that nanosecond glimpse of how I must be making some sort of positive impact on them after all.
Joe wrote a book report on Sunday. The first one he ever wanted to write without my help. In fact, he wouldn’t even let me in the room while he was working. When he handed me his draft and I read it, I smiled hugely. It’s not that it was the finest piece of literature I’d ever read. It’s that it was complete and well-thought out. It had his own inflection in the words. There were even capitals at the start of sentences and periods (in most cases) at the ends of them. Being an editor, I took a red pencil to his paper and corrected the spelling and punctuation. Then I asked him simply to rewrite it so it would be legible enough for teacher consumption. When he got to the car yesterday, his teacher followed and approached my window. She told me that his rough draft was excellent, so much so that she didn’t need him to do a final copy. If I hadn’t been sitting in my car, I would have executed a perfect, cheerleader-worthy, celebratory jump for joy. Progress. I’ve been working diligently with Joe on his writing, and he’s making progress. Sigh.
As we start to pull out of the school parking lot, Luke makes this announcement:
“I signed up for the school spelling bee.”
I nearly choked on my Coke. “You did what?”
“Signed up for the spelling bee,” he repeated.
I tried to gather my composure. “Can I ask what made you decide to?”
“Well,” he replied, “I thought it would be a good experience. I know I’m not the best speller in class. Jason is. But I’m going to try. If I get out on the first round, I won’t even mind. At least I will have tried.”
Seriously? Where is the camera? I have to be on Punk’d, right?
If there is a Mom Lottery, yesterday I took home the big money. Now I remember why I work so hard at parenting every day, even on the most difficult, depressing ones. It’s because, sometimes, when you least expect it you will get a crumb of positive affirmation that you’re doing a good job. Oddly enough, that crumb can sustain you for a long time.