Photo: Major’s first elementary school field trip ever was, of course, to an apple orchard. There is nothing more New England than an orchard and, I must say, this is probably my favorite orchard ever. Not wanting to show other people’s children on the interwebs, this is the only one I can show from my chaperoning.
Major lied to me this week.
It was a little lie, a silly one. Evidence of his marvelous brain working, him flexing his muscles of language and persuasion. Lying has only recently emerged–it was going to happen eventually, so I’m not terribly surprised. Yet, here I was with no time yesterday morning, having to face my 5-year-old, his lie, and all the consequences.
“Why is Mommy angry?” I asked my son. This is a question I ask often.
“Because I [did something I asked him not to, resulting in a mess and a significant delay in our morning routine]?”
I did a nodding-shake of my head. That yes/no shake. “Yes, that’s true. I’m angry about that. But why else am I angry?”
“Because I didn’t tell you the truth.”
“And did you know you weren’t telling me the truth?”
“You have to understand that this was a silly lie. It was pretty obvious what was going on. But you still wasted 10 minutes of my time telling me that silly story. It’s a big waste.”
I have to give him credit: he was wide-eyed, laser focused. He was yawning, as it was morning and we’d had a late night, but he was with me.
“It’s important that you understand that you are a big boy and I expect a lot out of you. Big Boys tell the truth, even when it’s hard. Big Boys tell the truth, even when they think Mommy is going to be angry.”
And my Quiet Thoughts this week come from that moment. At what point do we become the arbiters of the Big Book of Morals? How do we, somehow, end up saying the same things our parents said to us to our own children? I could hear my mother’s voice, see her face, as I was saying the words.
“You have to tell the truth, even when it hurts. You have to do the right thing, even when you think no one is looking,” I said. “You have to choose the right thing, even when it’s not easy.”
He listened, nodded his head. I asked him to repeat what I told him, and he did so dutifully. These are lessons that will need to be taught over and over again, expanded and refined as he grows older. They are rules that I understand aren’t hard and fast, but he can’t know that yet. (I’m a fool. He already has an idea that breaking them without ending the world is possible.)
Truth be told, my Quiet Thoughts come from my guilt about it afterward. Long after I dropped him off for school and went on about my insane day, I wondered if I’d been too hard on him. I wondered if I was being too old-school, too strict. Who am I to be dictating such edicts and dictums? I break rules all the time! Often with a smile!
There is also an understanding that a new chapter in parenting is beginning for us. My role shifts and changes as his needs do. Here I am, teaching again, but these lessons are forever. Am I really the right person to teach these lessons? I know that I have to be, but that doesn’t mean that I am. Time will tell. You never stop wondering if you are royally screwing this up.
The heat is on in the farmhouse tonight. The Husband made it so. I was holding out until October 1st, but he caved last night when it got down to 62 in the living room. We could have snuggled! Whatever. I’m grateful for oil in tank, cider donuts in the kitchen, the opportunity to sleep in and then catch up. Drought-cutting rain is supposed to fall this weekend. A blessing… even if our garden is already on its way out. The best part of all? there are many apples in the house! Over a half-bushel! So, I must make apple butter this weekend. This house is going to smell awesome. I can’t wait to fill up a few little jars and send them off to dear friends.
I send to you, on this last Friday of September, a little bit of warmth, a little bit of light. Dear Reader, this world feels deeply dark, sometimes intensely scary, and very often isolating and uncaring. So I wish you an outstretched hand, a welcoming smile, a warm moment with another person who sincerely cares about you. I wish you food that feeds your body well, preferably with all these wonderful foods from the harvest–tomato, leek, potato, fennel, beets. I hope that food feeds your soul, too, bringing you memories of happy times in happy places. I wish you moments alone with your thoughts and your desires, a time to reconnect with what you want and how you want to achieve it. I wish you moments of laughter with favorite people. I wish you two kisses on the cheek and a tight squeeze of a hug, someone looking into your eyes and seeing far beyond the shield you put up for yourself. When was the last time someone saw you, fully? When was the last time you took a moment to see a friend?
Above all, I want you to remember how loved and admired you are. Remember how much your story means to the people who care about you. Remember that who you are and what you do has consequence in this world. Choose to be kind, choose to reach out, and always know that what you put out into the world will come back to you twice fold.
Until Monday, Dear Reader, be bold, love fearlessly, take a positive risk, roar with laughter, and take care.