Friday nights are for dinner dates with my youngest, only we don’t call them dates because he is freaked out by that. We were doing “pizza Friday’s” but to my dismay, he got sick of pizza, so now we change it up every week. He gets to pick where we go, and I simply look forward to my time with him. I know that time is growing shorter and shorter as I get less and less cool to be around… It happens. I’ve come to grips with it.
Well, in the name of saving a few bucks, I decided to make one of Gav’s favorites and stay in tonight. I cooked up some homemade breaded chicken tenders for him and I made one of my favorites to go along with it – brussel sprouts and butternut squash. I was excited to sit at the kitchen table and have our normal Friday night chat!
Can you guess that “quality time” is my love language?
Gavin usually goes along with the lame mom Friday night, unless there is a game going on or a friend invites him over. In both cases, lame mom is dropped like a hot potato waiting for Mr. Rawlings to devour. Tonight was sort of like that, only worse.
When dinner was done, I proudly called him to the kitchen. He unenthusiastically joined me (more unenthusiastically than usual), clumsily grabbed a piece of chicken while telling me he really wasn’t hungry, and burned his fingers on the pan. I reminded him that I just took the pan out of the oven, because moms tend to forget their kids have brains in moments like this, and then watched him walk away in anger.
That was fun.
I let him cool down (no pun intended) and yelled for him from the kitchen. No response. I yelled again, this time asking if he wanted me to help. Still, no response. I asked once more and walked out to the living room to find him curled up on the couch, falling asleep. I stared at him, a little perturbed at first, and then went back to the kitchen and ate my dinner. Alone. Kind of sad.
After dinner-for-one, I cleaned up and went to talk with Gavin. I sat next to him, rubbed his back, told him I loved him. I encouraged him to eat dinner, but he just wanted to veg out in front of the television. I could have been mad about that. I could have been mad that he ruined dinner; that he didn’t appreciate my gesture. I could have been mad that he didn’t want to spend time with me. I could have been mad that he was being a joy killer. But instead, I chose to see the situation through the lens of my 11-year old. The kid who fought through sickness over winter break. He jumped into the first full week of school probably a little under-rested. He kept up on homework, and basketball, and baseball and chores – and he came to the end of the week and he was just tired. I can appreciate that. The chicken will be there for him when he gets hungry.
I gave my sleepy child a hug and gave him permission to be grumpy. I told him I loved him, and he mumbled something that sounded like, “I love you too” with an eyeroll. And then he moped to his bedroom. A few minutes later, I was surprised to see him emerge. I thought for a moment that maybe, just maybe he really did want to hang out. That thought was quickly dashed when he told me he just needed AAA batteries for the remote – which we didn’t have. Being the good mom that I am, I headed to the dollar store to grab some. While I was there, I also picked up a box of valentine zebra cakes. If his favorite chicken didn't find the way to his heart, I was certain his favorite sugary sweets would. And, full disclosure, I picked up a cupcake for me. There comes a point when this mama just needs some chocolate as she breathes in calmly and deals with an emotional boy who just needs to go to sleep. I always thought this was something a girl mom might say, but here I am…
I handed the batteries to Gavin and let him know I also bought AA’s because I’m awesome at being proactive and knew there were only 2 AA batteries left. He was unimpressed. But when I pulled out the valentine cakes and told him again that I loved him, his eyes got wide, he gasped and smiled, and told me he loved me more. That’s our thing. He always says he loves me more, only he doesn’t realize he couldn’t possibly, and that is the secret I cherish in my heart.
Just as quickly as he emerged, he disappeared into the abyss of his bedroom. Yes, I could have been mad, but I’m not. Not even a little.
I’m heading to bed this evening grateful for the crappy night. It gave me the chance to tell my child that I loved him in a moment he knew he was not being very lovable. It gave me the opportunity to extend grace. It allowed me to show kindness in small ways. And It gave me the chance to sit at the table alone, in the quiet, and pray for him specifically. Not just for his grumpiness to pass, but for him. His whole, precious life.
The night didn’t turn out the way I planned, but it did turn out exactly the way God wanted it to turn out. It’s all about perspective – and His view is deeper and wider than mine. Much like his love.
As you are wrapping up your week, my hope for you in finishing strong is that you would remember the “bad things” are only bad when viewed from the wrong perspective. When we take time to see the good in what appears to be bad, we change the world for the better.
If I had gotten mad, like I have a hundred times before this night, Gavin and I would both go to bed sad and angry and depressed. We would get up resentful and tuck words felt - both said and heard - into our reservoir. This is the well we drink from. And instead of murky waters, it was filled with love on this occasion.
This night won't go into the memory book (I mean, if he had one...the third child gets jipped). But it will go into the memory bank as the night a lame mom chose to love to a cranky kid. I'm okay with the way it all turned out. Tomorrow will be better because today I chose a different perspective.
Looking for the good with you,