Yesterday as Son Numero Uno (SNU!) ran through my room and towards the door, he bumped into one of my bookcases. Okay, perhaps bump is a bit generic. He slammed into the bookcase, and it wobbled a bit before regaining it's natural rhythm with the world. That is to say, it did not fall over.
But in the process of the wobble, a picture frame fell to the floor and the telephone slid across its shelf. SNU stopped short and with an expression one can only assume was a look of pure please-mom-don't-beat-me-I'm-only-a-small-boy!, stood watching me.
Funny how something as simple as this can seem so important.
Instantly I was reminded of the many times I, in my eternally klutzy childhood, broke, bumped, or dropped things of my father's. The memory of the look on his face alone was enough to make me feel a little ill, and so I did a quick facial expression assessment, smiled at the poor boy, and asked him if he was all right.
This was, of course, replied to with a quick nod as he replaced the phone and the frame to their original spots, and a "sorry!" as he ran off in whatever direction he was originally headed.
Funny how many opportunities parents lose to show their kids that nothing is more important than they are. People tend to treat friends better than they treat their own children. I was at a conference once where the speaker told a story about a mother that had spent all day cleaning her home for company, and the night before the company arrived, her toddler dropped a large glass full of sugary iced tea on the tiled kitchen floor. What was the mother's reaction?
A red faced, screaming, "What were you thinking?!", whining mess.
Same story, different person with the glass: She cleaned all day, and her friend came over for dinner and dropped their large glass of sugary iced tea on the tiled floor.
Same mess, but now the reaction is more akin to "Oh no ... don't worry about it, I could have done the same thing! You sit still while I clean it..."
And that is the saddest truth I know. I don't think I'll ever understand why people treat children worse than they would treat a stranger they met off the street.
So anyway. I hope that my smile and concern were what Son Numero Uno needed and that he won't have bone-chilling memories of a mom that cared more about her stuff than she cared about him.