Washing up quick between courses on Christmas Eve. A voice by my side, my nearly 7 year old son, asking: 5 waters please, mommy.
First thought: I’m out here washing up and being asked for something?
Second thought: Who does he think he is making demands?
Almost give a smirk, almost say: Do I look like a waitress to you?
Listen again to the request, still hovering in the front of my consciousness: 5 waters please, mommy. Look down at his face, confident, something else, something I can’t define for a second… pride.
He is asking me, with pride in his voice, to provide.
Third thought: What is he proud of?
I look at myself, my apartment, the crumbs on the floor, the untidy. He doesn’t see the expectations unmet. He sees our home, he sees our family guests for Christmas, he sees me, a person who provides what is needed, a person who is on his team.
Fourth thought: I’m on his team. I want to be on his team. I’m glad to be on his team!
Fifth thought: He’s providing for our guests, he’s wanting to be a good host, and he’s doing that in the best way he knows how, by asking me to pour waters, which he will then serve to our family, gathered in the living room.
I say: Yes, I’m happy to help. I’ll get them ready for you.
He passes them out, proud to be on our team, feeling good about his contribution.
I realize that my first reaction, of feeling put out, of almost belittling my son for making me feel put out and not realizing that his request would make me feel that way, was not how I wanted to be. I don’t want to feel put out, I don’t want to belittle. In my head, in the split second before responding to my son, I heard the voice I would have heard had I asked “5 waters please” with the same sense of confidence, I saw the smirk I would have gotten, had I asked.
I didn’t want to pass on the feelings of inadequacy I had as a child. I am in awe of my son, who does not feel inadequate, who feels like we are a team. I find it so amazing that he thinks that. I am glad that I did not first react, but thought first, and reacted with my heart, and not with someone else’s hurt.