“Oh! Look what I found!” I said, forcing my enthusiasm just a little. I pulled a package of Fruit Smiles out of my pocket. We were on our way out of the school gym where my oldest was having basketball practice.
Truthfully, I hadn’t just found them – I realized they were in there this morning when I put the coat on for the first time in God-knows-how-long (I remember wearing it to a Red Sox game in 2009 but not since).
My youngest son perked up a little.
I examined the package to make sure they weren’t expired or anything. “Would you like them, honey?”
“Okay, Mommy,” he said as he took his thumb out of his mouth.
We were standing outside the car in the drizzle.
I opened the package and squeezed one of them. Yup, still soft. “Here you go.”
“You’re welcome, lovey.”
I continued, “You’re not feeling so great about yourself, are you.”
“No,” he answered in a small voice.
I opened the car door and helped him climb in.
He had gotten into some trouble at extended day today, and we’d had to stay a little later than planned when the director needed to speak to me about it. My older two both had basketball practice at 6:00 p.m., and they were in two separate gyms in adjacent towns. Our schedule was tightly orchestrated where one boy would be early, and one would be pushing the threshold and we really didn’t have time for any variance. The discussion with the director threw things off, and my older two had been terse with him. I counted on their support to enforce that what he did to get in trouble was wrong, but defended him when they tried to blame their tardiness on him.
To my middle son I’d said, “You’re not late. You won’t be late. You’ll be ten minutes early. Stop obsessing! Slow down!”
To my oldest, “I’m sorry. It was important for me to have that discussion. I already told your coach and so-and-so’s dad that we might be late. Yes, I have to go in with your brother, I haven’t met his coach yet! It’s a minute past the last time you asked me what time it was. No, I can’t drive any faster – it’s raining!”
I started the car. “Can I hold your fruit snacks while you buckle up?”
“No,” he sighed. “I can do it.”
I told him, “Honey, we all make mistakes. I wasn’t feeling too great about the way I handled a couple of things at work today…”
“Really, mom? Did you get in trouble?”
“Well, no…hang on a second, I have to make this left turn…I was just worrying about some situations where I thought I could have been more considerate…one was because I was in a hurry to finish something…”
And I had been beating myself up over it, probably a lot like my son was doing.
“Honey, God still loves us, even when we mess up. I still love you – no matter what. Just try not to do that again, okay?”
We drove along in companionable silence for a while, on the way back to my middle son’s practice, since he’d be done in about 20 minutes. Then we’d all retrace our route to pick up my oldest, since his practice was a half an hour longer than his brother’s – fortunately, otherwise I’d be juggling on the back end, too. I thought about my job, and how if I hadn’t been worrying so much about things, I likely would have left earlier to pick the kids up to begin with, and if I had done that, I could have had the discussion with the director earlier, my kids would have had their clothes to change into earlier, we wouldn’t have been rushing around, it’s all my fault, loser parent, blah blah blah…
My son — thankfully — interrupted my thoughts. “Hey, Mom, do you want the last yellow one?”