Our youngest came down with a wretched cold on Sunday afternoon. By Sunday evening I knew he would have to be home with me on Monday. When our boys first started going to school, I would cringe and whine when they’d come down with a cold, not just because I knew I would be getting sick too but also because I knew that meant they would be home with me all day again. After all, I’d just gotten them into full day school and had begun to relish my emancipation from non-stop, boy-generated sound effects and full-day indentured servitude. I’d recently rediscovered the perfection in silence. I didn’t look forward to relinquishing it for even one day. That was years ago now, though, and yesterday I had a different experience when Luke stayed home with me. We ran a couple quick errands during which he was honestly helpful. Then, at home, we worked together on some of his school work. We read together. We watched Elf. Other than his constant hacking and my fear of getting in germs’ way, it was a wonderful day.
This morning while Joe was showering for school, Luke crawled into bed with me. He was crying. He didn’t want to go to school today. He was stuffy and not yet truly better, but he probably would survive the day. It was a sketchy call. If I were a parent who worked outside our home, he’d be going to school. End of story. But, I don’t work outside my home. I could tell his tears were real. He was stressed. He had so much to make up from Monday’s missed classes plus there was an additional large project he’d been working on and was hoping to complete. Last year, before I knew about his dyslexia, I would have mercilessly driven him to school despite his protestations and gone to yoga class unabated. Today, however, I really felt for him. I could understand how having all that work looming over his head at the end of a full day of school would seem an insurmountable task. I’m not afraid to admit it. I caved.
So today I spent my second full day this week alone with my youngest. We picked up a few groceries, selected a couple dress shirts for Christmas attire for them, and then we settled in at home with a goal of completing two days’ worth of school work as well as finishing most of his big project that is due Friday. I worked with him and, with just short breaks in between, we busted through all his work. By 2 p.m. I could see his shoulders raise as the weight of his heavy, third-grade world lessened on his shoulders. He was smiling more. I could tell he was feeling better. A couple times during the day I stopped to wonder if I had done the right thing, bailing him out of his nerves like that. Had I given him an easy way out? He probably would have benefited from the opportunity to fall behind and catch up slowly, finally realizing that the world did not come to a crashing halt because it took him a couple days to finish his work. Instead, I somewhat selfishly looked into his teary, hazel eyes and saw my two-year-old son, the one who used to climb into my lap every day to give me a hug and tell me he loved me. I gave into my emotions. I was weak.
At 2:20, he was starting to miss Joe so we hopped in the car to pick him up from his full day of school. On the way there, we chatted a bit. Then it got quiet. Out of nowhere, my 9 1/2 year old hit me with this.
“I’m going to miss you tomorrow. When is the next time we can have a full day together?”
With this remark, I no longer wondered if I had done the right thing keeping him out of school for an extra day. I had. I got to spend two, uninterrupted days with my youngest son. When Luke said he would miss me, I was the one who got misty. The time I have left with my boys is precious and quickly slipping through my grasp. The days when we will sit together on the couch watching movies and sharing Skittles are numbered. The passing of time is a necessary evil during this journey through life. I missed two days’ worth of yoga classes and alone time during which I could have accomplished much during this busy holiday season, but it was so worth it. Luke got his peace of mind, and I got to have two-year old Luke back. You can’t put a price on the rare opportunity to flip the hourglass over even if only for a moment with your children. I have no regrets.