His feet thump down the hall suspiciously.
You don’t think someone can run suspiciously? This boy can. He use to scurry off from somewhere out of sight yelling “NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING!” when he’d done something wrong. He no longer has the verbal tell, but the heavy, fast footfalls of my 42-lb boy are unmistakably trouble.
Andrew hears it, too. “Brian Levi? What are you doing?”
He drops a small, heavy object behind him and holds up his (freshly) empty hands. “Nothing!”
“Buddy. What did you drop behind you?”
It turns out to be a tiny tape measure. Just like his Daddy’s Stanley Powerlock 25′ tape measure, but small enough to carry on a key ring and only three feet long. His big sisters each have one. It’s not specifically an “off-limits for Brian” item, but it doesn’t belong to him, either.
“Did you think you weren’t supposed to have it? That you’d get in trouble for having it? Is that why you ran, dropped it, and lied?”
At this point, I kind of sag in defeat. I’ve had basically this interaction with the boy maybe two dozen times already today. And, while I am just observing this exchange, I feel the frustration of the day and my inability to deal with it effectively. I’m glad Andrew is home.
“Brian, you know how you felt like you were going to get in trouble?”
“God gave you a conscience. That’s the bad feeling you had. You need to pay attention to that and instead of hiding, choose not to do the thing you know you’re not supposed to do.”
Oh. That seemed obvious enough, why didn’t I think of it?
At this point, I could go into a shame spiral… I know all that stuff, but when Brian does this thing over and over, I don’t think of it. I don’t think of anything, really, except how baffled I am by these behaviors and how now I have to come up with yet another privilege to take away or something so this doesn’t pay off for him. But there Andrew goes, just doing the thing, saying the words, acting like he knows what the heck he’s doing…
But I don’t.
I’m too tired for crap like that today.
This is why God gave our kids both of us. I can’t (for whatever reason) think of stuff like that on the fly. I’m hopeless at it. But I’m not alone. Props to you single moms, I totally don’t know how you pull it off.
I need him. For lots of things, but certainly for raising these crazy kids. I can put words to their emotions (bizarrely, this situation falls outside of that for me) but I have yet to learn how to consistently articulate the things they need to hear past “PLEASE STOP THAT.”
Parenting has to be a team sport—the couple and, beyond that, the community. I have friends who talk me down when I’m on the verge of losing it and friends who give me verbiage for stuff like this. There are people who share their systems (another thing I’m really bad at) and those who remind me it’s all going to be okay, even if I feel wholly inadequate. They don’t have to be local (most aren’t)… I just have to ask. Nobody is good at everything, whatever it looks like. I am incredibly grateful for people who are better than I am at various parts of this absurd job, and they’ve tended to be pretty gracious when I ask them about it, as awkward as that can feel sometimes.
“Hey, I’ve noticed you’re good at this thing I’m bad at… Any tips?”
This post is part of my series, 31 days of speaking the truth. You can find the whole list of them here on the first post of the series.