I took the boys to Miller Outdoor Theater to see a production of various nursery tales with audience participation. (The brothers h were the ones yelling, "GRENADES! GRENADES!" when the wolf asked for suggestions on how to blow down the pig's house.) I was organized (lunches and water bottles packed). I was early. I pulled into my parking spot 30 minutes before the show feeling smug. Then,
David: (worried) Mommy, I forgot my shoes.
Further evidence that God likes David: the first thought that came to my mind after I heaved a melodramatic sigh but before I spoke was this sentence from a book I'm reading on raising boys:*
What boys need most at this age is mercy.
This is a dangerous place to be as a parent - when your child does something...childish - personally annoying but not bad in terms of their character or intentions and understandable given their age. I worry sometimes that based on my reactions to them, my kids get the idea that this kind of childish behavior (pretend fighting in line at the grocery store, dropping a full bowl of soup on the floor, out of control splashing in the bathtub...) is a bigger deal than the character issues that are not as LOUD AND IN MY FACE DEMANDING A RESPONSE!
At about the same time I remembered that I forgot my shoes for a softball game when I was nine and that since the tender age of three and a half, when we brought Bryan home from the hospital, David has been dressing himself, putting on his shoes and coat, and buckling himself in the car, and this was the first time I remembered him forgetting something essential.
So Janet saved the day and picked up a pair of shoes for David on her way to meet us at the show, and I managed about 95% mercy, 5% irritation. While we waited for Janet, he apologized profusely and offered to pay me back for the shoes every few minutes in a way that made me glad I remembered mercy until...
David: (swatting) These mosquitoes are really annoying.
Me: I know. I meant to bring bug spray, and I forgot.
David: (shocked and annoyed) I can't believe you forgot the bug spray. I wish you didn't forget it.
Me: Seriously??? Do you want to continue this conversation?
* Wild Things, the Art of Nurturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas