Friday, February 22, 2008

The Half Mile

How far can you travel in a half mile?
It's 2,640 feet.
Twice around the track.
The distance from my house to the bus stop.

This morning Matthew and I traveled from livid to loving in a half mile.

We had eaten breakfast together and, as I was going to get in the shower, I told Matthew to get dressed and ready for school. I reminded him of the things he needed to do and he told me he understood and would do them.
He didn't.
When I got out of the shower I came out to "check" on Matthew and found him still at the table in his pajamas. Again (and with more intensity...) I told Matthew to get dressed, and this time he did.
However, over the next fifteen minutes he managed to "forget" nearly everything he was supposed to do to get ready - in spite of my reminders. The result of the time wasted was that, when it was time to walk out the door, Matthew still hadn't brushed his teeth and I hadn't put gel in his hair to make it spikey for "crazy hair day" at school.
Up to this point, Matthew and I had simply been irritating each other. Me "nagging," and him "ignoring." But when I told Matthew there was not time to put gel in his hair he got livid.
Rather than brush his teeth, he stood there crying and yelling because I wasn't going to gel his hair. I told him if he really wanted the crazy hair, he should have gotten himself ready on time. As I listened to him yelling about me being "not fair" I put his snow pants in his bag and went back to see if he had brushed his teeth yet. (I knew he hadn't, because he never stopped yelling.) So I stood there and made him do it, then sent him out - still yelling - to get his boots on.
I decided I would squirt some gel in my hand and mess his hair up while he was getting his boots on. It wouldn't be the "cute spikey" do he probably wanted, but it would be "crazy" and I figured that would have to be enough. Oh, silly me.
As I was stomping walking to my bathroom to get the gel, I was unloading on God. God, I want to wring his neck right now! I have had it this morning. Please help me!!!
Returning to the family room with a glob of gel in my hand, I said, "OK. Here you go." And I made Matthew's hair crazy/messy. I'll admit, I wasn't taking my time or trying to make it cute. There was no time for that. But he wanted gel, and he wanted his hair to be crazy, so that's what I did.
Not good enough.
Matthew didn't like it (He didn't even have a mirror to look at his hair, so I didn't know how he could really have an opinion about it...) and he yelled at me for messing it up.
Now, I was livid. I couldn't believe Matthew was yelling at me for messing his hair up. He had just been crying out for gel and crazy hair, and now that I gave it to him, he was yelling at me for messing it up. UGH!!!
We were on our way out the door to go to the bus stop and Matthew was still yelling and crying. I told him if he yelled at me again I wasn't going to walk to the bus stop with him. (I am so mature when I'm angry!)
We walked in silence for about 30 seconds and then started to talk. I went over the need for Matthew to stay on task in getting ready for school, and reminded him if he had done so this morning we could have done his hair however he wanted. Matthew replied that it wasn't all his fault. I mulled his statement over a bit and said, "You're right, Matthew. I shouldn't have yelled at you this morning. But..." It is so hard for me to not stick that But you should have... in there!

Soon our conversation turned to cold ears and "100th Day of School" activities and the next thing I knew we were at the bus stop. The cat was out - which is always a nice diversion - and our spirits were calmer. Matthew was petting the cat and I called to him to come over to me.
"What, Mamma?"
I leaned over to him and said, "Matthew, I'm sorry about our fight this morning, and I want you to know I love you."
He smiled and replied, "I know."
With that, the bus came around the corner, the boys hugged me, and off they went to school.

So there you have it. Livid to loving in half a mile.

Some of my neighbors drive their kids to school and others have asked why I don't just drive, instead of walking half a mile to the bus stop.
But, you know what? I love that half mile walk. On many occasions our trip to the bus stop has given us the opportunity to overcome some pretty rough mornings, in order that we may go into the day loving each other rather than being thankful for the time apart.
I have had several mornings in which I have spent my walk home thanking God for my sons and His redeeming power. I don't know exactly what it is about that half mile walk which brings my boys and I such a peace and love for each other, but I am thankful for it and will not give it up for a warm ride in the van. Ever.

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L the D said...

That's beautiful, and it gives me hope! The Munchkin has been in seven--no, eight--time-outs today, and it's just now lunch, but it's gorgeous to see how much a quick, desperate prayer (or two hours of sobbing and pleading with our Lord over and over again . . . whatever) can turn a situation around!

my wonderful men... said...

How awesome before he got on that bus you two were able to work things out. It's not a good feeling when things are crazy in the morning and you and your child were unable to resolve things.
God is good and faithful.

luvmy4sons said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Wanted to stop in and say hello. Will be back later when I have more time to read up!

Karen said...

Matthew is the same age as my wee boy Joe (7). As I was reading through this post I had this strong sense that Matthew is going to grow into a fine young man, a leader who will know his mind and not be bowled over or compromise his faith and beliefs. I felt very encouraged for you all by this!

How is the book writing going?

luvmy4sons said...

I LOL at your post. I am SO with you. We home school so we don't have quite the same scenario, but with four boys and two of them with learning disabilities my repeating of myself and frustration with them can be tiresome to say the least. Does Matthew have any attention issues? He reminds me of my 12 year old( dyslexic, ADHD, and language processing disorder who also likes his hair spiked). It seems to go in one ear and out the other. So great that you took time to tell him you loved him before he got on the bus!

freetofly said...

Karen, I heart you! I love that you are so brave and bold in your parenting and your blogging! You can't imagine the women and maybe even fathers who are encouraged by your writings!

I'm with Leslie. My oldest was the same when he was little, as far as in one ear and out the other. It does sniff of attention issues.

Christian Book Distributors has some great books about ADD & ADHD, that you would like. Even if he's not, there are great tips for dealing with the retention of things in a helpful way for you and him.

I wish I had known about them long ago, but he's 24 & the web justn't wasn't a big deal then! :)

Matthew sounds like a really dear boy, I have a "soft place" for him from all the times you have written about him.

P.S. I have something for you at my place! Happy weekend!


Anonymous said...

Not sure how I found your blog, but glad that I did! :)

I am thinking we had the same kind of morning and that perhaps I should work up the courage to put my child on the bus. My heart breaks when we have a silent ride to school and she doesnt want to kiss me goodbye.

How is it exactly that the teeth don't get brushed but there is blue toothpaste all over the countertop? I should install a hidden camera I suppose.

Erin said...

You've really challenged me today to pray BEFORE I divy out the sentence for misbehavior. I usually fly off the handle, yell, and send my boys off to their room crying, then flop down with my head in my hands thinking, "how am I going to make up for this one?"
The other day I asked my kindergartner to help me remember to count to five before asking what happened (as long an no one is hurt.)
I am always amazed at how me or my husband saying sorry to our kids can dissolve a situation and turn around some pretty nasty attitudes, especially on my part.

I always take comfort in knowing that I am a child of God, and he is always patient with me. I truely need prayer to learn to be patient with my 3 boys.

StaceyStace said...

I have also had those mornings where I just could not put a kid on the bus and be separated for 8 hours without making things right with them. The resulting drive to school has always been worth it. I hate for them to start their day overwhelmed, angry, sad or confused - even if they are at fault, and in our case, usually we are ALL at fault because we feed off each other! But since I am the adult I know they should be feeding off of a positive, disciplined and kind attitude from me, and that's just not what they always get. :-(

I'm glad you provided that for your little boy.

realworldmartha said...

What a blessing to have that time together. He will remember it always!
So I remember reading an idea that may help if you want to try it. One mom took a brown sack and a couple of goodies in it (love note, stickers, small toy, treat, etc) Just a couple of small treats. If her boys were ready by the time the bag says i.e. 7:45 they would get the bag. If not, then it would wait for the next day.
I thought it was pretty clever.

Debbie aka The Real World Martha(S)

Troubled Teen said...

That was very nice mom! I could picture you and matthew! Matthew seems to be a very nice kid!

Jenileigh said...

You know I am battling these battles with my 12yo daughter. Its so relieving (sorry) to come and read that you are going through them too....but the sweetest thing about this post is the walk. Those moments are PRICELESS!!!

kreed said...

I love that you always seem to make your own "happy ending" by using God's grace to fix whatever problems come up - you are amazing!