The boy walked up to me carrying two medals that he had won as party favors or for some such occasion and said he wanted to give them to somebody. I told him to toss the medals into the ever-growing giveaway pile. And he said no.
Instead of giving them away to someone he didn’t know, he wanted to give them to someone to show appreciation, he explained to me. As an example, he told me about maybe saving them until the end of the school year and giving them to someone who did a good job in class. Although he seemed somewhat adamant about saving them until the end of the school year, I suggested that he give them to someone special, someone who has had an impact on his life, someone he wanted to reward for how significantly he or she had touched him.
I told him he could choose friends or family or teachers or anyone he felt was very special and important to him. He asked me repeatedly who he should give the medals to, but I answered that he had to decide for himself.
Later, while I’m in the bathroom, I overhear Chris and the boy.Chris: Have you talked to Mommy? TB: No. Where is she? Oh, Mommy’s in the bathroom. Chris: OK, we’ll wait until she’s finished.
While they had this conversation, I had internal dialogue of my own. Why is it that every time I’m in the bathroom, somebody needs me? The only time I am more popular is when I’m on the phone. Why can’t I have just a moment to be in the bathroom and not be in high demand? I even flashbacked to the days when tiny little fingers used to slip under the door and wiggle at me. That always was cute. In all honesty, Chris tries to protect the sanctity of my bathroom time, but it doesn’t always work. Meanwhile, I’ve had some of my most interesting conversations with my children while I was thusly sequestered as a captive audience. My internal musings quickly shifted from cranky to curious, and I left the bathroom searching for Chris and the boy.
I found them, and I saw Chris wearing a medal. I was so proud the boy had chosen to honor his father with a medal.Me: That’s wonderful! You decided to give Daddy a medal. I’m glad he’s so special to you. TB: Here, Mommy. Bend down. I have one for you, too.
As I leaned down and the boy placed the medal over my head, I felt like an olympian.
Then I realized I couldn’t possibly feel like an olympian. Yes, like an olympian, I have spent years training and honing my craft. And like an olympian, I was honored to have my years of sacrifice and dedication rewarded. But unlike an olympian, I never envisioned this moment. It never once crossed my mind that I would be thusly rewarded for a job well done. The swell in my heart was doubly sweet. Not only had my 6-year-old son decided to show his parents how much we mean to him by giving us his medals, but it came as such a surprise.
Later in the evening, when I told the boy to put away his toys, he became less enamored with me. I’m happy to know, however, that despite our inevitable conflicts, or maybe because of them, the boy recognizes, if only in part, the love we daily pour into him and his sister. I’m impressed that at such a young age he can begin to see this. I imagine his insight will dissipate as he becomes a teenager and then eventually disappear until he has children of his own. For now, however, I’m tucking my medal into my treasure box to pull out as a reminder of this moment. And I’ll smile.