Gray Matters — The best gift a mom can ask for

By Tanya Mitchell | May 15, 2014
Source: File image

Belfast — Over this past weekend, we, like lots of Americans, observed Mother's Day.

I'm sure lots of you did something special for the lady who helped shape who you are today, whether it was treating her to lunch, surprising her with a bouquet of flowers or simply spending the day with her. I got to hang out with my son Shane all weekend. I was the proud recipient of a card Shane chose especially for me and a bottle of my very favorite cologne (thanks, little man)!

All of those things are super nice, and to all of you who remembered to celebrate your moms, any way you chose to do so, bravo.

At this stage in my mom life, Shane is still in the midst of those years that I know I will look back on fondly (especially when he gets to the age when he knows everything, would not even think about asking for my advice or ever consider being seen with me in public). I haven't seen any evidence of that stuff yet, but according to all the more experienced parents I know, it's coming. And it's probably coming sooner than I want it to. But I digress ...

Shane, who is turning nine at the end of this week, is still at the age where he does most anything I ask of him, particularly if it is part of a regular routine (get dressed, find shoes, backpack and other school necessities, etc). I typically have to remind him to do things like clean his room or vacuum the living room floor, but I know it's because they are not among his favorite household chores. Looking back on my own childhood, I would classify that as quite normal (I was pretty good at procrastinating, too, to the point where my mom was, for a brief time while I was in middle school, just happy to see that I had a path cleared out on my floor).

I sometimes have to offer him gentle reminder about what he needs to do around the house. When he finishes his meal and immediately dashes away from the table to continue with whatever little boy activity he was engaged in before I made him stop to eat, I usually have to interrupt his mission to ask him if he forgot something.

"Oh, sorry mom. I forgot," he says, as he returns to retrieve his plate and bring it over to the counter beside the sink.

Sometimes, like other parents, I worry that he isn't listening to me, and wonder if he really retains knowledge from me repeating myself constantly or if he just finds me to be one of the more significant annoyances in his life. Judging by his reaction to my requests sometimes, I am concerned that the latter may be more true than the former.

Here is an example:

Me: "Wow, this place looks like a bomb went off! Would you mind picking up the toys you aren't playing with and put them away in your room?"

Shane: [Add exaggerated and dramatic sigh here] "But Mom, I'm playing with those! I need all the Legos to finish my airstrip, and I need all the Nerf darts for..."

Me: "Look, dude, I know cleaning is an awful way to spend a Saturday and we all think it's boring and stupid or whatever. But we all still have to do it, and if we work together it will be done in half the time."

That's a typical conversation in my house.

But then the other weekend my son did something that showed me that he does indeed listen to me, and quite closely, I might add.

While he and a friend were playing in my living room, I again ventured out to find the floor (and some of my walls) were completely covered with Nerf darts and discs, and Nerf guns in various states of assembly. There was also a fine variety of die cast planes, helicopters and other stuff that probably really hurts if you are unfortunate enough to step on them without the protective benefit of shoes.

I saw the craziness, and then asked the boys to take time out of their activities to straighten up the room a little bit.

His buddy made some comment about how he shouldn't have to help clean up because it wasn't his house.

The next thing I heard made me laugh uncontrollably, but I was also bursting with that mom pride you get when you see you may actually be doing something right.

Shane turned to his guest and said, "Look dude, I know cleaning is stupid and boring, but we have to do it. So why don't you help me out and then we can get back to our game."

And with that, both boys picked up their mess.

I stood in the hallway trying to regain my composure before I went out, all serious-like, and inspected the quality of the work. I don't think either of the boys could tell that I was in total hysterics just moments before, because after I informed them both that they did an excellent job, they nodded in straight-faced acknowledgment. Then they sought permission to go outside and play Army guys.

"Permission granted," I stated calmly as they tore out the front door.

And score one for mom, too.

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