Mark had a hard day yesterday.
He cried because Braeden and Emma never play with him. (I wasn't all that sympathetic because while sometimes Braeden and Emma are often in their own world together and he's in a galaxy far far away, sometimes they just need to do their work, that's why they won't play with him.)
He cried when he had to clean up the Wii remotes when Braeden and Emma had played too. (I wasn't all that sympathetic. I said, "You're old enough to be part of the family and that means helping each other." I even played the consider how much laundry/cooking/cleaning/you-name-it-and-I've-done-it-for-you card. We're a family. Buck up.)
He cried when I made him eat his lunch before he got a cookie. (I wasn't all that sympathetic. Too bad. So sad.)
He cried when he got in A LOT of trouble for disobeying/completely ignoring me.
Later, when I was feeling calmer, I was talking to him in his room. He said sorrowfully, "I think I'll just stay in my room for the rest of the night."
I told him that after I was done correcting school work, I would read to him. He smiled a wobbly smile and went off to "play clone wars" until I was done.
Braeden was gone and Mark and Emma each got to pick a book.
Mark picked The Polar Express.
We sat in the living room by the Christmas tree with only enough lights on to see the book. Emma daintily licked a candy cane on my right and Mark loudly crunched his candy cane on my left, while leaning heavily into me. (Don't you touch anything with sticky fingers.)
As I read the magical story I felt supremely happy. This is what I love about the Christmas season. It was all so cozy and wonderful.
Emma picked The Amazing Christmas Extravaganza.
We love that book. Do you know the story? It's about Mr. Merriweather who proudly puts up a string of white lights outside his window. His neighbor, Mr. Clack, says, "Pretty shrimpy string of lights you got there, pal."
Mr. Merriweather is crushed and the next day starts decorating. He goes WAY overboard, buying up all the decorations in all the stores. When there's nothing left to buy, he starts building decorations. He ends up with huge styrofoam snowmen and a fifty foot tall Santa that waves. He skips his children's Christmas pageant because he's so busy and everyone in the neighborhood gets upset because their Christmas cookies are coming out doughy because he's using up all the electricity and there are so many traffic jams from visitors to Mr. Merriweather's house that they have to cancel caroling.
The last straw is when all the neighborhood loses power on Christmas Eve because of Mr. Merriweather. (And all his lights are still glowing bright.) Emma said, "That's not how electricity works is it?"
The neighbors attack Mr. Merriweather's yard and destroy all his decorations. The next morning, Christmas morning, the neighbors realize their mistake and feel sorry and Mr. Merriweather realizes his mistakes and feels sorry and they all forgive each other and help Mr. Merriweather hang up his string of white lights that he had in the first place.
We love it.
All except for Mark.
He was crying. Inconsolably.
My boy (who skips to the battle scenes in Star Wars and only likes to watch the end of Home Alone because it's "the good part") was brokenhearted that all Mr. Merriweather's work was wrecked. He said, "I hate that book. I hate every word in that book. Never read that to me again."
Oh. The drama.
I tried to tell him the redeeming qualities of the book. How they all learned their lesson.
It didn't really help.
I lay by my boy and traced circles around his eyes and nose and mouth just like my Aunt Mary used to do to me during church when I was very young and she was still in high school. Mark said, "This is very relaxing."
I said, "I know."
I wondered what it was with Mark. Why all the tears? Maybe he was tired? Growing? Over excited about Christmas and his birthday?
His birthday. He's almost seven which seems impossible. Somehow I thought he'd always be my baby. His long lean body no longer resembles his round cherubic little baby self.
Then I realized it. Maybe that's what was going on. He's growing up and maybe it's just as startling to him. He's feeling left out, he has to clean up after other people, he has to try food he doesn't like. He has to obey and learn about meanness and do subtraction and empty the dishwasher every day of his life.
Maybe it's a lot to take on.
I put my arms tightly around my boy and kissed his soft red curls.
Growing up is not so easy.
But your mom loves you.