Let me set the stage for you. It was 20 minutes to bedtime, and the plate sat lonely on the kitchen island with the Taquitos growing colder by the second. The apple slices lay on the far side of the plate having been pushed into isolation by the fork of a two year old. Emma and Joel’s muted voices floated to me downstairs and I could visualize from past experiences exactly what they were doing. Joel would be hunched over the keyboard with his eyes glued to the screen wrapped up in his latest mission. Emma, would be standing on the back of her brother’s chair, commentating on his every decision. “No Joel! You want to go over there!” You would never guess that just a floor below them a war was being fought.
I never thought that I was capable of fighting with a two year old, especially one with the cutest blonde hair who carries the belief that sharks are “dangeroussssss” but this night, I learned differently. My worthy opponent sat on the stairs sniffling, trying to sneak his way up a stair or two when I wasn’t looking. His goal was to make it to the top, where he would be free to stand on the chair beside Emma and be caught up in the virtual adventures the computer offered. My goal was to get the Taquitos and apple slices safely tucked away in his otherwise empty tummy.
Our swords were drawn. As Adam attempted to sneak up a stair I’d catch him and proclaim with a stern voice: “nope, you can’t go upstairs and play until you eat your dinner”. His entire body would begin to shake in response, his eyes would fill up with tears and he’d plead “No! Stop it! Stop it!” as he drew his sword and stabbed it into my heart.
It was after many attempts that I finally started to break down. I was tired, I was frustrated, and I just wanted to get this kid to eat so he could go play. Every tear that fell from Adam’s eyes made me feel more and more like the meanest bully on the planet. Surely he would hate me for this forever. Why wouldn’t he eat? He likes apples, and Emma and Joel ate their Toquito’s with no problems. A million thoughts raced through my mind and finally the realization came…he doesn’t like Mexican food, and toquitos are very similar. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so stupid. It was one of those moments where you want to just bang your head on the counter.
I quickly went to the freezer and made up some of the ever popular Dino Nuggets and presented them to Adam with the hopeful wish that he would actually eat something. Relief seeped into me as he sat down and began to dance his dinos into the ketchup, and finally into his mouth! The battle was at last over, but still I worried that I wouldn’t be on Adam’s good side for awhile. After an hour of tears and struggle who wouldn’t hold a grudge? It was then that Adam presented me with the best peace offering I’ve ever received, his biggest smile and a “thank you Jenn-fer!” To my amazement the rest of the night passed without the slightest hitch, and no hard feelings.
The events of this night have led to one of my greatest beliefs; the belief that children are the kind of people we should all strive to be. The instant forgiveness and unconditional love that every child carries with them is so far superior to the habits that we as adults hold of which we should be ashamed. As we grow, we start to hold grudges and let harsh feelings stop us from fully caring for those around us. Wouldn’t we all be a little happier if we could forget and forgive so easily? Wouldn’t we live in a better world? Though they are more often than not shorter than us, I believe we should all look up and strive to be the kind of people that our children are.