Sorry I’ve been MIA, Dear Ones, I’ve been in birthday Heaven. Or is it purgatory? Isn’t that where you are stuck between Heaven and hell and you can’t get out or something like that? I’m not sure about my definition, but, yeah, that’s where I’ve been.
My boys’ birthdays are almost exactly two years apart. Only three days separate them. I don’t know what we were thinking; I guess spring was lucky for us. We should have planned better. Because now, we don’t celebrate birthdays. We celebrate birth month. January is birthday month. It seems we celebrate continuously…never escaping the endless torture!! We celebrate with Jeffy’s class at school, then Teddy’s class at school. We have a small party with family friends, take in a movie with neighborhood friends, and finally, have an intimate family gathering in honor of the boys’ births. All this right after Christmas.
Last year, in a desperate attempt to escape the purgatory, we convinced the boys to go on a weekend trip as their celebration. We went to Columbus, took in the science museum and a couple other favorite spots. When we returned home, Jeffrey said, “Now I’m ready for my party!”
The boy won’t be denied. He is a social animal. He lives for a party. And cake. We cannot forget the cake. Little Jeffrey is all about the cake.
He gets so excited that his joy just overflows. Two days ago, as I was getting ready for work and he for school, I caught him making my bed. He has been on a birthday high for some days, but when I still responded in shock and disbelief, he said, “Because you’re the best mommy in the world!” Then gave me a huge hug. This morning, he cleaned the dried toothpaste chunks off of he and Teddy’s sink. Humming the entire time.
Sometimes he’s such a suck up. But he is a very sincere little suck up, and I enjoy it very much.
His brother, on the other hand, has decided that this will be the year that he boycotts the party. He has asked that we do nothing to observe his birthday (except lavish him with presents of course). I am secretly ecstatic about this humble request, yet am still experiencing mommy guilt. Every time the poor child turns around I am suggesting another idea that might appeal to him. Would you like to take a friend to the go-cart track for a couple laps? A movie? How about a sleepover? He has started heading me off before I complete my suggestion with a quick, “I’m sure.”
“But, honey,” I say, “I’m just worried that your day will come and you will feel a little sad that there are no special plans. Are you—“
So, just when I accept this as his true desire, he gets all Freudian on me.
Yesterday, as I readied the house for the onslaught of third graders that invaded us today, Teddy began to torture his little brother. It started out as a game. They were having fun at first. But it wasn’t long before there were tears involved, and little Mr. Suck Up can be very into playing the wounded party. As they both presented their cases before me, I caught myself yelling, “Just go upstairs and take your showers, or I will cancel your birthdays!” (Too late for that)
But the drama was not over.
‘Lil Jeff came downstairs with tears in his eyes.
“I’m afraid Teddy had done something terrible and I don’t want to tell you because I’m afraid you might cancel our birthday!”
If he didn’t want to tell me, then why was he standing here before me?
I tried to ignore, but he was determined to tattle.
“Teddy called me a beep-head, but only, he used the real word!”
Stunned, all I could say was, “What?”
“Did he say the ‘S’ word?” I asked, still in shock.
Jeffrey looked confused a sec. , then said, “No, the A-word.” (I don’t think he knew there was an “s” word).
Teddy had called him an A-head? For a brief moment, I wondered if the A in question didn’t stand for alligator…or air…or maybe arrow? These would make much more sense than A-head, wouldn’t they? I felt a wave of relief that at least he didn’t know how to use the terminology correctly.
Still, this was a first for me. Jeff and I don’t “cuss” in normal conversation, and so I guess I had always assumed that our boys wouldn’t either. I was surprised at the huge disappointment I felt at the knowledge that my soon-to-be 11 year old had used profanity (although incorrectly, apparently).
Teddy was disappointed in himself too. When confronted, his face fell and he began to cry. After being told the proverbial, “We’ll talk about it when your father gets home”, he locked himself in his room.
As I finished the last minute preparations for Jeffrey’s party, I thought about everything I had done for my youngest son that day. Teddy had watched me rush around all day, making plans for his brother’s birthday party. I began to suspect that his acting out may have a little to do with the green-eyed monster. This tendered my heart to my older son and I was able to calm down enough to approach my little sailor-mouthed guy. At first, he didn’t want to open his door to me, but when I spoke tenderly, he was willing. Because I gave Teddy the benefit of the doubt, we were able to have a meaningful discussion about why we don’t use those words. It wasn’t long before my two boys were best friends again.
See, when I showed my son compassion, he felt heard and understood. All he had needed was a little TLC. Don’t we all feel this way once in a while? In our own ways, we shake our fists at God and toss out the A-word a time or two. When we feel alone or neglected, we act out to get attention, anyone’s attention sometimes.
If we will listen, He is knocking at our door. He wants to come into our lives and speak with compassion to us. He wants to give a little TLC to us. But first, we have to open the door.