from the mouths of babes

“I caaaan’t carry it,” my pre-school nephew protested lifting his little suitcase over his head. “It’s too heavy,” he groaned as he carried it across the room.
“Here let me help.”
I reached out to lift his burden, but my soon-to-be husband stopped me.
“He doesn’t need help. Not if he can lift it over his head and carry it across the room.”
“But … ” I stopped and looked at the child looking at me. For all his noise, he had handled that suitcase easily.
As a 19 year-old, I learned something that day. Something that even a not-yet-crawling baby could teach me.
As one did the Sunday morning I was rushing to get ready for church. I left the chid on the bed with his father watching him. And he was watching – a lot more closely than I was.
From the kitchen I heard a whimper that sounded like “Help me, Mommy, I’m falling.”
Standing in the doorway, I could see across the dining room to the bed. He was right at the edge of the bed. He looked like he would fall any minute.
I dashed in to rescue the baby and to scold my husband.
“I’m watching. He’s not going to fall,” my husband’s voice stopped me in mid-stride as I entered the room. “He just wants you to come and get him.”
I looked at my child. He wasn’t that close to the edge.
I squatted down and looked up into his baby face. “Is your daddy right? Are you just pulling my leg?”
A big toothless grin spread across his face as he began giggling. I left him in his father’s care and went back to fixing food.
OK, so little ones cry, wail and carry on to get what they want from parents. In time, they learn differently. Right?
As a teen it is the same song, second verse. “Whhyy do we have to buy things on sale? Whhyy do we have to shop the vintage shops and garage sales? I don’t have enough clothes. I don’t have enough money to do anything.”
That one was tough. I really wanted to fork over more cash. I felt so awful for depriving my child of anything that I went over the budget again. In the end, I decided even if I were the worst parent in the world, the allowance would have to be enough money.
In spite of a barrage of protests, enough jeans, shirts and shoes filled the closet before the first day of school. After a couple dozen years of children, I should have known better and been used to it.
Truthfully, I have barely recovered from having forced my shy seventh-graders to attend one group activity at church every month.
They insisted I was making them do something that they should not have to do. They demanded explanations for my explanations and then told me I had not explained, ‘why.’
I quit explaining and simply insisted. When we got to church, the ran around the corner and hid with the other shy seventh-graders.
Sixteen years later as collegiates, each has joined similar groups and told everyone, “It’s so boring at home. We never do anything.”
That’s the kind of thanks I get. May they all have a half-dozen children just like themselves.