Tokens of Love

Every so often, something happens in your daily grind that completely justifies the constant ups and downs you experience while fulfilling the rewarding, yet never-exactly-easy role of "parent".  Sometimes it's a hug.  Or a random profession of love.  It might be a half-colored sheet torn hastily from a coloring book left by your bedside.  Or a poem written in school all about "Mom".  Or perhaps a bouquet of freshly picked dandelions.  Any of these things can cause heart swells of grinch-like proportions.  The simplest sign of gratitude can fill our love tanks.

But we all know not every day is sunshine and roses.  Some days feel more like dunghills and maggots.  (Or something not quite as gross as that...but very close.)

On those days, the tokens of love and gratitude are replaced with stomping fits, door slams, and outright stubbornness.

In case you can't tell, we had one of these days in our house recently.  Before bed on Friday evening, I told my dear, sweet seven year old son, Ben, that before he did anything fun on Saturday he had to clean up his room. (...despite the fact that he'd agreeably cleaned his room within inches of "pristine" just last weekend.  If you have or ever had a seven year old boy you understand that it takes mere nanoseconds to go from pristine to pigpen-ish.)

This particular Saturday, however, our usually agreeable son was just not in the mood.  We all have days like that, right?  Out of some sort of protest, he piddled around in the middle of his floor for the better part of the morning.  He emerged from his room for lunch having accomplished very little at that point, and was sent back to keep (or really, start) working after he finished eating.  This particular little boy gets even less agreeable on an empty stomach.  So with his fuel tank on "F" and the prospect of an entire Saturday disappearing before his stubborn eyes looming before him, he returned to his room muttering something about how mean Sam and I were being to him.  The nerve of us, making him clean his room, ya know?

A few minutes later he came out bearing a token.  

I can only speculate as to why he passed us this note.  Perhaps it's because he prefers the written word to the spoken...like his mother.  Or maybe it's because he knew it was a not-very-nice thing to say out loud.  Either way, I don't think he was expecting the reaction that he got from us.  To sum up, we laughed.  Then we said, "We'll find you new ones first thing in the morning."  Then we told Abby that Ben didn't want to live with us anymore.  (She wasn't very happy about that.)

An hour or so later, Ben miraculously found the motivation to clean his room within inches of pristine, and emerged like a new man from his room more than ready to watch a movie with his little sister (of her choosing even).

I'm sure different parents would react differently to this note.  Some would be angry, some would be hurt, but me - I was a little vindicated.  Sam and I had stuck to our guns.  We didn't give in because of the "You're mean" mutterings under his breath.  This note means we won.

Sorry, kid.  You're stuck with these mean parents who hold you accountable.  And I pray some day you'll understand it was in your best interest.  Shoot, maybe you'll even appreciate it.

The best part of the story, though, is what happened afterwards...

We picked at him over and over for his decision to relieve us of our parenting obligations.  Finally, he said, "I didn't mean it!"  When I told him I was going to keep the note forever, he tried to snatch it and throw it away. When I thought he was successfully distracted from doing so, I left it on the counter with the intention of scanning it for this little old blog post.  This morning I realized it wasn't where I'd left it.

So I did what any other mom would do.  I went trash-diving.  I do that a lot.  (Just last night I rescued one of our teaspoons from the very same depths.)  I found the note strategically placed under an empty box of Lucky Charms and atop something brown and sticky, presumably barbeque sauce.

I loved that he tried to throw it away.  I love that when he did something he was ashamed of, he felt remorse and wanted to erase the fact that it ever happened.  And now, I love that I have this blog post, complete with the greasy, stained-up declaration as a reminder that we all do and say things that we regret.  The cool part is that when we do, if we want forgiveness that matters, we can have it - we just have to ask.  And that regret will be as good as thrown away in the trash.

After all, that was yesterday.  This is today.

To wrap it all up, Ben has decided we're not so bad.  I think we'll stick together after all.

The day even ended with one of those hugs I mentioned way up top...just a token that made it all worth while.


Debbie said...

I'm not a creepy stalker.
Really, I'm not.
I just happened to sit down and click here "just in case" even though I saw no evidence of a new post. You must have just put it up.

Since I felt the oddball need to confess that, I might as well go on to admit that I considered letting this sit a spell and returning at a less stalkerish time.

So anyway...
I love this! You and Sam have the best relationship with your children, and it's so evident in every post. You are confident in them, and they obviously feel SAFE with you. It must be wonderful to be a part of the Herd of Sheps.

You know, periodically I leave God little notes like that in my heart. I don't mean it any more than Ben does. I'm so glad God knows that and just tells me to stop the foolishness and go clean up my mess.

Denise said...

Very sweet post. So glad you stuck to your guns...it's not always easy. The whole outcome was great. Clean bedroom, sorrowful child, niceness (is that even a word?) for little sister and everyone still happy to be a member of the Sheppard family. Who wouldn't be happy at your house?!!

Sherri said...

Ooh, I love this....hubs and I would have the same reaction! So, so cute and heartfelt what he wrote. I just love that when they feel something SO strongly that they just have to find the right words to tell you. Very cute post!

And, did you see that you were in Mommy of a Monster's Saturday favorites?? Your resume post was adorable....loved it.

Jenn said...

I love this post. My daughter is still a baby, but in knowing her parents like I do ;) ... I think we'll have some moments like this to come. Thanks for sharing such a great family story.

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