I hope you and your family have a safe and wonderful holiday. ~ Mimi
When my son was fifteen he did something stupid. Not criminal, not earth-shattering, just knuckle-head-not-thinking stupid. His dad, my ex-husband, gave him the usual “Atta boy, don't do that again” talk, the school got their three days without his smart mouth and I was left with the what-am-I-gonna-do-with-this-child? nightmare invading my dreams.
“Yeah, I know Mom.”
He started to walk away.
Although I vowed never to give the think of all the starving children speech to my child (I broke that rule many times), this time I went for the jugular. Mine was bulging. “What were you THINKING?! Do you think you can just go through life handling things this way? Do you know how privileged you are? (yeah Mom) Do you understand that there are kids in this world who would love to have your life? (yeah Mom) Why are you choosing to mess things up for yourself? Do you know that you can't play sports now? (yeah Mom) Are you listening to me?! If you don't get your act together young man you're going to end up somewhere you don't want to be and I'm not bailing you out. Do you hear me? (yeah Mom) You have no idea how close you came to getting in serious trouble today, do you? Do you? Well, DO you?? (a surly yeah Mom....See, I told you, listen to the smart mouth.) What you do right now in school will determine your future. And now you have a bad mark on your academic record and a three-day suspension before high school. You are out of control!”
“So ground me,” said the smart mouth.
“No. I will not ground you.”
“Just think of it as Mama's jail.”
'Think of all the starving children' just got real.
In the middle of the second week he started to actually get up before I did. “Hurry up, Mom. We have to get going.” (Oh great, I thought. He's met a pretty girl at the homeless shelter. That's the only reason he would get up at five am. My plan has backfired. Drats!)
All I knew was that somehow the corn and pintos and no-extra-dessert-for-you rule would magically translate into a light-bulb moment for him. Osmosis maybe? I just knew this was the right thing to do but I didn't know how or why.
My boy had just served lunch. There was pie for dessert that day.
He was dirty. Shaky.
No teeth. Scraggly. Scary. Smelly.
Pork 'n beans, wax beans, any beans. Didn't matter. Please feed my child. My little girl is hungry.
I was so moved that summer. Apparently, I needed a reality check too. But that was not the point. Was it?
But I was proud.
We finished our tour of shelter duty as promised and school started again in the fall.
That was twenty-one years ago.
Did he straighten-up-and-fly-right from that moment on? No.
Were there more nightmare dreams for me through the teenage years? Yes.
But I have to believe that it shaped his understanding of the world a bit and through all his troubles and challenges in life that most certainly came later, I did see – and continue to see – a great compassion develop in him for people in need.
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