On the tenth day of Christmas, my true loves gave to me ten handmade cards, nine yummy cookies, eight hours’ cleaning, seven minutes’ crying, six undone advents, a five seater Volvo SUV……four Diego drawings, three tasty treats, two U.S. passports and a mushy brain with no memory.
There was a brief period of time in my early childhood when my mom tried to be my piano teacher. I guess she figured that since she was teaching other people’s kids how to play piano, she should be able to teach her own. The lessons didn’t last long. She’d get frustrated with me for not being able to do something. I’d get mad at her for expecting me to do stuff I couldn’t. And so it went for a little while until she entrusted me to the tutelage of another. Best money she ever spent, I’m sure. It’s, um, difficult to teach your child to do something.
As in ‘difficult’ to keep from gouging your eyes out with a fork. At least, that’s my sentiment.
The Gort and I had to go to his school to make cards for a fundraiser. The school was very explicit in its instruction that the child be involved – so the child can learn to ‘give of himself’. Maybe I’m way off base on this, but I don’t think a child placing four photo stickers on a picture and slapping it onto cardstock constitute ‘giving of himself’. In fact, it’s giving of ‘myself‘. My patience. My blood pressure. My nerves.
Since people had actually paid money for the cards, I figured they needed to look good. So I relegated the Gort to fundraiser sticker duty. It was his job to slap the little ‘Casa Hogar’ sticker on the back of each card. Simple enough, I thought.
You’d be amazed at how un-simple a five year old can make this task. Upside down stickers. Crooked stickers. Stickers falling off the edge of the card. I kind of wanted to throttle him.
It was eerily reminiscent of the fight Jason and I had about our wedding invitations: custom-designed and made cream and brown cards. It had taken me hours to address every single one of the cards with a brown calligraphy pen.
So I asked him to help me with putting the stamps on the envelopes. I figured it was a simple task. But I neglected to specify that the stamps should be put on perfectly square, level, flush…whatever you call it. And he just slapped them on the envelopes as if it was a bulk mailing. And didn’t get why I was so mad about it. Maybe most people wouldn’t get why I was so mad about it.
But back to the Casa Hogar cards. As the Gort and I were sweating over these ridiculous little cards, there were other kids – around his age and slightly older – running around the gym. Having fun. And my inner three year old couldn’t help but wonder why they’d been excused from ‘giving of themselves’. Why I had to risk hypertension in trying to keep from yelling at my kid. Why I had to exert myself in thinking of little platitudes like ‘nice job..that’s almost straight…maybe next time!’ As I cringed inwardly about the crooked stickers on the back.
One mom and son team came in, picked up their supplies…..and left. No doubt, she was going to go home and assemble the cards by herself. Probably while drinking coffee or wine and listening to music. Oh the injustice of it all.
To make matters worse…we had to assemble 120 cards. If it hadn’t been for the kindness of two teachers, we might still be sitting there. The one teacher complimented the Gort on what a good job he was doing – sitting so patiently, helping us with the cards. While other kids were just running around acting crazy. It helped me take a step back and see the bigger picture: the cards wouldn’t be perfect, but the little man really did give of himself in putting them together.
Other teachers are good for that.
*Art by the Gort. If you’re at all related to me or the kid, expect one in your stocking.