Parenting. It takes some energy. Here’s a story from March 2008 when my son Baker was almost 12 that recalls a time when I expended a good bit of energy, but got even more in return.
When he was in middle school, my son could be extremely high maintenance. Like this one Wednesday night–church night–when Baker had his regular homework plus make-up work from being absent one day the previous week. Also, my husband was away on a business trip. Baker (much like my beagles, as it turns out) always preferred everyone be in the same house, preferably in the same room, possibly on the same couch. So, he hated when his daddy was out of town; at those times he was always more anxious and less focused.
As I said, it was Wednesday. That meant we had three fewer hours than on any other weeknight (church from 5-8 pm). A rushed schedule and one extra stressed-out boy resulted in me having lots of opportunities that night to (ahem) practice my patience.
By 9:30, the girls were sound asleep. But, Baker and I sat together at the kitchen table while he worked on his assignment, a project which included a drawing and a report. He’d already started both, but just couldn’t seem to get them finished.
“Try starting the sentence with this, Baker. . .”
“The colors look great in your picture—you think you should go over that title with a black pen though?”
“Move on to the next paragraph now. . .”
On and on it went. I was trying to get some work done in between answering his questions, but it seemed that if I took my mind off his task for one moment, he was overwhelmed or distracted. It was painful. I was tired. I had things to do. I sat here with him for a full hour and a half until he got it done.
Finally the child finished at 11:00 and went to bed, but not before issuing orders: “Don’t forget to lock the doors, Mom. Check the garage door. Make sure you turn on the alarm system. . . .”
Help me. Go to bed for the sake of your mother if not for yourself.
I went downstairs to lock up, went back up to his room to assure him it was done, kissed him goodnight and walked out. I had just enough time to get back to the kitchen.
“Mom?” Baker called out from his room down the hall.
Heavens what now? Deep breath. Patience restored. “Yes Baker-boy?”
“I just wanted to thank you so much for sitting at the table with me and helping me get my work done. You know, it’s sad, but some kids don’t have a mother who would do that just for some little science report for their son. Thanks a lot.”