We are a family of entertainers apparently.
You see, one night while my husband Clark was holding a band rehearsal at our house, my then almost-3-yr-old gave quite a performance of his own.
In the course of 20 minutes, he served up the entire menu of “no-no’s” including, but not limited to, slamming one door, screaming at a near-deafening decibel level, pushing his little sister, telling on himself for pushing his little sister, and then the big finish. During the .5 seconds I turned to tend to my second born, he dumped full 10 oz cups of bathwater onto the bathroom rug. By the time I got to him, we both stood in a half-inch puddle of water.
The only words I managed to muster was, “What is wrong with you?!” As if he was actually might answer, “Well mom, I thought the bathroom floor could use a good mopping. And while we’re at it, I despise the purple-hull peas you served for dinner, and have I mentioned I might never forgive you for ripping me away from Daddy’s band rehearsal telling me to come scrub my boy parts? As if that’s supposed to be some kind of incentive?”
Perhaps if he had been able to tell me how he really felt, I might not have been so prison warden with him. My vocabulary consisted of “you” … “bed” … “no” … “goodnight.” Any more wordage and I may have scarred him for life.
As soon as I retreated into my room, falling facedown into a throw pillow, it occurred to me that perhaps he was, in his own way, trying to tell me something by doing all of the things he knows will land him a one way ticket to Mommy’s bad side. So I conducted an impromptu experiment and crept back into his dark room where we reviewed the jumbled sentiments of his day.
First, he asked me to scratch his back, so I did, while he proceeded to recite his most loved scenes from Curious George followed by the lyrics to his favorite Circa Survive song at the top of his lungs. And for dessert — the plan of salvation.
“Mommy, who can be saved? Say sawee for a sins. Twust in Chwist for sah-va-shun.”
I kid you not … out of the mouth of babes, right?
And then, I felt like a big jerk-Mommy. I laid there in the dark crying as he sang, “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Feet,” because I realized that even though The Man with the Yellow Hat and Eternal Life were both swimming around up there in the same head space, somehow in the course of his day, I had hurried him from one activity to the next without so much as pausing for a moment to consider what was actually sinking in.
And at the end of the day, all of this was rising up in his little spirit, and I nearly missed it because I was so worked up about him emptying half his bathwater onto the tile floor. Was all of that acting up his way of saying, “For crying out loud, will you just listen to me for 5 minutes?!”
Sometime later, Clark had finished his rehearsal. He found us lying on our little boy’s bed, holding hands, and singing David Gray tunes. We both kissed him goodnight, and within moments, he was asleep. Perhaps next time we can skip the bathwater opening act and enjoy some bedtime sermons and late night radio instead.