Many, many years ago, son Cailan approached me, one hand behind his back. He was like a puppy with his food dish in sight, prancing and twisting around hip to snout.
It seems he had made me something in art class.
“There,” he announced proudly, thrusting it towards me.
I stared at “it.”
Don’t you hate it when that happens? Your kid slaves away in art class, doing without sleep, submitting himself totally to the calling of his art to create a token of his love for you… And you can’t figure out what “it” is?
Makes ya feel bad.
Merciful child that he is, he blurts out, “It’s a scoop… like for sugar. It’s the only thing I could think to make for you….. fast.”
“Fast? Were you short of time?”
In a perpetual bondage to candor, Himself retorted, “Oh no, I had an hour, but I had other stuff I wanted to do more.”
You see, at Cailan’s age and below, children are quite forthright. It takes us adults a while longer to teach them how to be insincere.
“You know, it only took me five minutes to do this,” he admitted proudly.
I shook my head in wonder. “That such as this could be created in five minutes…” I said, turning the creation around and about to fully catch the light. “I would have guessed no less than… ah.. seven minutes.”
These situations are rather commonplace for parents and I am ashamed that, this being true, I do not handle them better… more competently. But it is not without profit that I learn from my son. When he embodied an entire sentence into one word, “Five,” he taught me much of brevity.
I showed some restrained enthusiasm for his effort, but the following thought occurred: It is not unlike arriving home at the end of weary day, feeling unloved, defeated and under-appreciated only to have your dog greet you at the front door as only a K-9 can. He yips and gyrates with unrestrained, nearly orgasmic joy at your arrival. You begin to think that life’s not all that bad. He puts his forepaws up on your leg. And then…
He urinates on your pants.
It occurs to me that this is a parallel situation to the above. Do you credit your child for the loving thought or upbraid him for his detached haste? What does maturity here demand of you? Do you credit the dog for his enthusiasm or condemn him for his incontinence?
These are things I do not know; but would welcome any thoughtful responses.