I take things for granted. Most of us do, to some extent.
I thought about this last night, as I sat at the kitchen table at ten o’ clock at night, helping my oldest son with a school assignment.
Now, my son Stephen is a very good kid – sweet, compassionate, and always happy – but he has a maddening quality: he is a procrastinator. If he has a project due, it is left for the last hour of the last day before it is due, leading, of course, to a mad dash and panic to get it done on time.
I have tried to explain to him many times how he should pace himself, and try to set up a schedule to get things done; all to no avail. He means well, he really does, but he can’t help being a social butterfly, and a bouncing ball when it comes to activities.
So, here I was last night, secretly boiling inside and pouting about the fact that another evening of mine was sacrificed to his social life; then a light went off.
I thought about all those kids who are sullen and withdrawn, isolated and unable to connect to others. I thought about the meaning of being a kid, and the demands society has on kids these days. I also thought about parents who have children with illnesses, the ones whose sons and daughters are confined in a hospital room, void of energy and preoccupied with issues they shouldn’t have to worry about at their young age. Those parents would give all their possessions to have a bubbly, smiling child, and their hearts would warm quickly if they could detect a small mischievous twinkle in their own kids’ eyes.
That’s when I realized how fortunate I am.
My kids are not perfect – none of us is – but they are good, normal kids, who have been lucky enough to be born in a life void of hardship, in which they can live their childhood years worry-free, thinking about sports, games and girls.
I looked up from the paper and glimpsed at Stephen. He felt that I was staring at him, so he looked back at me a little puzzled. When he saw I was smiling he grinned and his eyes sparkled. I took his hand and told him I love him.
We finished the assignment sooner than I thought. Stephen stood up and was ready to bolt out the room to go play with his brother, but before he got to the stairs he turned around and came to give me a hug. “Thank you for helping me, Mom” he breathed in my neck. “I love you”.
Then he was gone.
I was no longer pouting. Suddenly, I was really excited about the future he, his brother and sister have ahead. They may not be the poster children for perfection, but they have good values, good thoughts, good hearts, and, most of all, they are happy children.
The rest will come with time.