I am a pushover. Really. And it’s pathetic. All it takes for me to forgive weeks, and I do mean weeks, of maltreatment and abuse is a naked little boy, wrapped in a Cardinal’s Snuggie, watching “I Love Lucy” reruns, and I turn into a puddle of mushy oatmeal.
Eli, my 7 year old, has been going through a stage. Imagine “the terrible twos” meets teenager hell, and you’re close to what’s been going on in my house. It’s the kind of stage that makes parents question the wisdom of ever having had children in the first place.
I’m talking on the brink.
But then tonight happened, and all is good again. My little lamb came home. Eli was back to being the loving little creature I remembered but had begun to think I’d merely imagined in some new age parenting book I’d read.
It was slightly past bedtime and I’d leniently allowed the boys to watch one more episode of “I Love Lucy.” Eli was giggling softly, which always weakens my defenses. Then he actually pulled me close to him and offered to share a corner of his favorite Snuggie with me. This was unusual juxtaposed with the last few weeks of his inconsiderate self-centeredness. But I declined his offer, intent on maintaining my hardened heart and newly drawn parental boundaries. I was not about to be sucked in by a feeble attempt at kindness. After the show, I announced that it was time for bed. Ready for battle, I stood up and braced myself. Eli rose gently, took my hand and led me to his room where he climbed into bed, said his prayers and laid his head on his pillow. It was effortless. I was stunned.
But then, a few minutes later, I heard his tiny voice call out, “Mama, I can’t fall asleep.” This, I must admit, is rare for Eli. I reentered his room and offered to rub his back for two minutes if he agreed to remain silent and try to sleep. He concurred and I began to fulfill my end of the bargain. I was trying, hard, not to fall back in love with him, as I gently rubbed his back and listened to his soft breathing. No. I would not succumb to his innocence and sweetness as he lay there trying so earnestly to fall asleep.
After two minutes (I am a woman of my word) I pulled my hand back, kissed his forehead and began to leave. “Mom,” his little voice murmured, “Thank you. It feels nice to have you rub my back right there. I try. But I just can’t seem to reach it very well.” And that was it. I was sunk. It doesn’t get any cuter than that.
My husband happened to be passing by Eli’s room as I quietly exited, tears welling up in my eyes. “He got you already?” He said. “Man, you are easy.” I nodded in reticent accord and wandered back to my office to confess my weakness to all of you. So, am I a marshmallow?