Monday, March 12, 2007

The White Shirt

I have said before I love my kids' school because they are so big on parental involvement. Another thing I really like is the dress code. Tan or navy blue pants, and red, white or blue shirt. Keeps it simple. And modest. I like that.
Most mornings the dress code also makes getting dressed easy. I did say most mornings. Today was not one of those mornings.

Joshua wanted blue pants, but only had tan pants in his closet. That was OK! I had just taken the dark clothes out of the dryer. Problem solved.
He also wanted a red shirt, but only had white shirts in his closet. That was not OK. I had just put the red clothes in the washing machine. They would not be ready before it was time for him to leave for school.
In my mind, this shirt business was not a big deal. Joshua has worn the white shirts before. He could do it again. I know he favors red, but this really didn't need to be a big deal. However, Joshua's mind does not operate like mine.
He was furious. He was stomping around, spilling cereal, letting everyone know he was NOT happy about wearing a white shirt. In his anger, he yelled at me about not doing the laundry "right." Why did I do the reds "late"? Couldn't I just go get the red shirt out of the washer and put it by the heater so it was dry when he needed it? (Really, that was his proposal!) In the midst of his rage I did my best to remain calm, reminding myself it would be stupid to join in and start yelling back at him.
Finally, he was going to state the reason he didn't like the white shirt. I was waiting for him to say something about not wanting to stain the shirt if he spilled his chocolate milk at lunch. You never know, he could be concerned about staying clean! Uh, no. Not this time. As I waited with baited breath for his explanation, I almost laughed when he gave it. He said he likes the red shirt better because it keeps him warmer. White shirts are cold, he said.
I don't believe he's been to any "Color Me Beautiful" classes. I don't think he knows anything about warm and cool colors. I don't believe the red shirt actually keeps him warmer than the white shirt. In an attempt to call his bluff, I reminded him he had a sweater he could take to school and put on if he got chilly. He had reasons why that suggestion wouldn't work either, and he continued in his grumpy mood.
Finally I said to him, "Joshua, I think you're getting upset about something that really isn't worth being upset over." I really don't remember what happened next, because my mind was taken to another place by the statement I'd just made.

How many times have I, myself, gotten upset over something that really wasn't worth the time and emotion? How many times have I stomped around, upset that the red shirt was still in the washer, when there was a perfectly good white shirt hanging in my closet?
I remember being upset when I finished nursing my third baby. The bra was baggy. The small one. I hated this "new" body. I felt unfeminine and unattractive. God, why did this have to happen? I liked my breasts the way they used to be! (I think that's safe to say. Don't think I have any male readers!)
There have been moments I have wished I could trade my kids in for some that obey the first time, every time, and who always clean up their messes and never fight with each other. God, I don't know what I'm doing with these kids. I don't think I can handle them!
And how about the times I've admired someone else's nice complexion and complained about my own? God, I'm 35 years old. Isn't it about time for me to stop getting pimples???
How many times has God said to me, Karen, Karen, you are upset about so many things. There is only one thing that matters. Seek Me.

Yes, God took that moment of logic I had for Joshua and used it to speak to me! He has given me plenty of white shirts. More than I need, really. Some of them are very practical. Some are well-worn. Some of them are delicate and pretty. One of them is extravagent. They all fit me perfectly.
I may not have the red shirts I want (and sometimes think I need) but I have all the white shirts I need, and it just doesn't make sense getting upset about the red shirts!

End note: In spite of the ordeal with the shirt, on the way out the door Joshua called over his shoulder, "Love you!" And I replied, "Love you, too, Joshua!" as the door closed. Then the door re-opened and Joshua said something and was gone again. My husband told me Joshua's final message was, "You rock." Enthusiasm was missing, but he did put in the effort to open and close the door again, and that counts for something!


Monkey Giggles said...

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Julie Q. said...

What a wonderful story. How funny that he thinks the red one keeps him warmer!

I love the way you took this moment and found a beautiful lesson in it. I certainly get all worked up over minor things too, because they don't seem minor at the time. It's good to get a "higher" perspective on things.

(And I had to laugh at the shrinking bra comment too. Oh, so familiar!)

Irritable Mother said...

His ways are higher than ours...I'm so thankful!
I read your post about weaning, I mean stopping the lease. That's when the shrinking sets in...Some choice - large breasts or your own body. Ugh!