Sometimes my kids teach me the most amazing lessons. Oh, sure. Most of the time they simply make me feel I should be wearing a straightjacket. But, occasionally, when I least expect it, something brilliant comes from one of them. In those moments, I get a glimpse of why I have the two children I have.
Today, Luke came home from school with a D grade on a phonics test. The test needed to be signed. This is not his first poor grade in this particular subject, so I was not surprised. He’s been struggling with his “special sounds” for a while. To that end, I made something along the line of 75, two-sided flash cards with the sounds and their key words on them. I spent hours one night on this task as it required me to glue two index cards together so you could not see through from one side to the other. We try to take a few minutes a day to review a set or two of cards to familiarize him with the sounds. Given his 66% on this particular test, we probably need to augment our practice time.
As he’s handing me the paper to sign Luke casually says, “I told her maybe I’d be doing better if we worked on the sounds at home.”
Desperately trying to suppress the lava flow of anger that was rising from my ruptured heart, I said, “What? We HAVE been working on them at home. Why did you tell her that?”
“I didn’t want to get in trouble,” he replied.
Are you kidding me? You don’t want to get in trouble so the easiest thing to do is rat Mom out as the weak link? My own son had sold me down river. Now I really was angry. If I hadn’t been working with him, then fine. But to have put in personal time on this only to have him blame his deficiency on me was truly aggravating. Then, I did something completely uncool. I had a little bit of a Mommy Tantrum. I’m not proud of it, and I won’t go into details. I will admit that it ended with my stomping up the stairs and shutting my door a bit too loudly to put an exclamation point on my annoyance.
I sat in my room for a few minutes and tried to regroup. I knew Luke was downstairs feeling horrible about his lie, just as I was upstairs feeling miserable about my unnecessary tantrum. I took a deep breath, opened the door, and walked back downstairs, avoiding eye contact with Luke the entire time. I could tell he was looking at me, but I also knew he was teary eyed. If I saw his sad little face I would back down. No. I would not cave. I deserved an apology.
About thirty seconds later, Luke walked over, wrapped his arms around me, and squeezed tightly. I sat down on the floor and pulled him to me and we hugged for a solid minute. Although I no longer cared about the apology, he told me he was sorry and that he didn’t know why he told that lie. I told him that he is a good kid with bad moments and I am a good mom with bad moments. Sometimes our bad moments coincide, and we hurt each other. Then, with childlike innocence and sage-like clarity he shared this wisdom with me:
“The only cure for sadness is a hug.”
So, I hugged him again.