“I don’t really feel like helping my brother,” my oldest said, as I asked him to carry my middle son’s baseball bag in from the car.
It was just the two of us and there was a lot to bring in. We had just come from middle school orientation, which had necessitated leaving my middle son’s baseball practice 15 minutes early in order to attend. My middle son had pitched a dramatic, morose, and melancholy fit for a good half hour, including much foot dragging, dirt kicking, shoulder slumping, and the ultimate, “I don’t even know why I am playing baseball if I can’t be at practice.” Never mind the kid spent a good portion of time in the yard pitching before we even went to practice.
“This orientation is important to your brother. We can’t miss it. I only found out about your baseball practice less than 24 hours ago. We’re lucky we could go at all!” It was true, the practice had been rescheduled because of anticipated bad weather during the weekend. And both of these activities had trumped my standing Thursday night plans.
“And you’re playing baseball because you love baseball.” Duh, I thought.
Midway through the orientation, I sent my younger two home with Daddy, who swung by the school after his commute, so it was just my oldest and me divesting the car of the backpacks, lunch boxes, papers, dinner remnants, and sporting equipment.
“Well, I need your help…” was what I told him. I didn’t feel like helping my middle son, either, and the idea of interrupting him from doing whatever he was doing to get his stuff out of the car was even more distasteful.
“He was being really jerky about leaving practice.”
“Yeah, he really was. Sometimes it’s hard to be nice to people when they aren’t being nice to you, isn’t it?”
“I think he was feeling miserable so he wanted all of us to feel miserable.”
“Well, let’s do the loving thing and help him anyway.” I thought about how my middle son will hold the door open for me even when I’m the ‘worst mother in the world.’ He might not make eye contact with me, but he still does it.
My oldest groaned as I tried to hand him the baseball bag. “He’s gonna owe me…”
“Oh, nuh uh uh,” I cut him off. “Don’t keep score. Don’t expect any particular outcome…”
“Well, he does! If I do this for him, shouldn’t he do something for me?”
“Like what, carry in all five bags of groceries so you don’t have to carry any?”
I could see the light-bulb moment reflected in my son’s eyes.
“What goes around comes around, honey. Just do the right thing.”
Without another word he rearranged the other things he was carrying and took the bag, slinging it over his shoulder.
“Thank you for your help.”