You didn’t sleep well last night. You tossed and turned and lay in bed until the rays of sun peeked through the window then got up. You came straight to my side, waking me up. I grumbled, growled, and barked an order to get back in bed; it was too early to be up.
Your shoulders slumped in defeat as you retreated to your room.
Silently I shuffled across the carpet to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. While rubbing the sleep from my eyes you bounded in and squeezed me with all your strength, giving me an undeserved hug. Instead of hugging you back I fussed for you to be careful – you nearly knocked my hot coffee on you.
You let go and looked at the floor, saddened that I did not hug you back.
I made breakfast and halfway listened to you and your sister play at the table. She began to fuss and whine and I told you to be nicer, let her have her way so I wouldn’t have to hear her cries. You began to defend yourself and explain you did nothing wrong but I didn’t want to hear it. I interrupted you and told you to do what I said.
You swallowed your anger and complied, no longer excited and having fun.
You dressed yourself in what we picked out last night at my first request. You put your shoes on without being told and ran to my room filled with pride that you did what I would want. As you rounded the corner you fell over the dog. I did not notice your shoes, instead I sternly reminded you not to run in the house.
Your pride dissolved as your cheeks became flushed with embarrassment.
I commented the dog needed to go out and you jumped up and yelled you would do it. You brought her to the door and turned with a grin because you just knew you wouldn’t get in trouble for this. Daddy saw the door still open and bellowed for you to shut it before bugs came in.
You shoved it closed and blinked hard to hold back your tears.
I picked you up early from school to take you to the dentist. You did not want to go but you hid your anxiety to show your sister there is nothing to be afraid of. You went first and never grumbled or complained. I came back when you were finished and you were thrilled to see me and let me hear how well you did. The dentist told me you had a cavity and that you needed to brush more. She complimented you on how well you did during the visit, how kind and caring you were to your sister.
You forced a fake smile and hid your disappointment that you were the one to have a cavity.
You thanked them for the coin that would get you a prize from the machine. You helped your sister get hers first then used yours. Nothing came out. You told the woman working there you needed a new one; that it didn’t work and she gave you another. You tried again and still you got nothing. I told you we needed to leave, that we were late and you would get something later.
You did as I said, glancing back at the machine holding the toy you felt you deserved.
We got to school and you pleaded not to go back. You begged me to stay with you, to call in sick to work just for that day. Only once.
I told you I could not and I walked you to your class.
The lights were off and the room was empty. You realized you were missing recess and you wouldn’t be able to play. You began to cry but wiped your tears on your sleeve and fought the urge. I had you come with me as I walked your sister to class, she missed lunch but not recess – hers is at the end of the day. As we started to head toward the playground your classmates came down the hall, red and sweaty from playing so hard.
You broke down.
You slid down the wall in defeat, the tears you fought so hard all morning to contain finally spilling over, running hot down your cheeks and landing on your shirt. You crossed your arms in anger and stomped your feet in protest, wanting to scream, to yell how unfair it all was, but instead you hissed so only I could hear.
I knelt down and you fell into me shaking, sobbing – all the disappointment, fear, anger, and despair flowing out with your tears. You clung to me, begging me to stay, no longer caring if others heard your pleas.
I scooped you up and away from the crowd, from the traffic and the noise. I sat down with you; and I listened.
I did not talk until you finished.
I did not correct you or tell you to stop exaggerating.
I did not remind you of any rules or expectations.
I did not fuss at you or tell you to get over it.
I waited for you to finish and finally said what you what you so badly needed to hear. What you hoped I would say all morning long.
I love you. I’m proud of you. I’m sorry I was so crabby this morning. You are smart, and kind, and amazing. I wish I could spend the entire day with you, too. Yes, today really has sucked. So far you had a really super craptastic kind of day. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.
You had a bad morning, and that’s okay. Bad days happen. But it's up to you whether or not you are going to wallow in the depths of misery or suck it up and find the silver lining.
I needed to go back to work but at that moment you needed me more. Your smile grew with every minute I sat next to you in the lunchroom. You introduced me to your new friends and showed me things in your new school I hadn’t yet seen. You finished eating and I gave you a big hug and kiss before I left.
You were the first to let go.
I hated to leave you this morning. I wanted more than anything to grab your hand and to run out of there, ignoring all our responsibilities; to be free for the day from all the stresses of life. I wanted to give you an entire day of laughter and uninterrupted joy. I wanted to be able to prove to you that your sister and you are always my number one priority, something I don’t get to show you in during the limited time we have together.
I walked away, shoulders slumped in disappointment and blinked back tears of guilt for having to leave you yet again; for the way I treated you this morning. I looked back once more to see if you were okay and I saw you laughing, your smile brightening the room like rays of sunlight. You weren't thinking about your bad morning, about how mean I was and how unfair it all seemed. You chose to change your day and to find your silver lining.
And in that instant my day got better, too. Because I found my silver lining in you.