Don't remember if I've posted this article yet but I've tried to start posting the stories I have in the paper each week. This is the current column:
Years ago, when Sam was a little guy, we came to the end of a very long day and my baby boy was hitting his wall. I knew it, his big brothers and sister knew it, but Sam himself didn't quite know it yet.
As the late afternoon wore on, my boy, who was on the last days of a bad cold, came to me over and over, wanting comfort. I soothed his latest wound, most of them emotional, as he tried repeatedly to keep playing while his body was trying to tell him it was time to quit. The smallest rift with brothers sent him into cascades of tears. Even a kind look from big sister made his body break into sobs. So he kept returning to my lap and I kept thinking he would fall asleep while we rocked. But each time he found some inner reservoir of energy and decided he wanted to play just a bit longer.
Finally I knew it was time to step in and insist that the night be brought to a close. I was tired and Jeff was working late to prepare for our big trip to the East coast in two weeks. My days were full of packing and making arrangements, so by six o'clock I was hitting my own weary wall. And Sam just needed to let go and call it a day.
As we were getting our last drink of milk from the fridge Sam saw it...the syrup for making snow cones. They were a frequent treat in the summer months but when autumn rolled around the snow cone machine was tucked into a back cabinet and the syrups were stored in the fridge. The idea delighted Sam. He asked, "Mom, can me have a 'no cone?"
I had to say no. It was the right thing to do. I have no doubt that if he were an only child I would have said yes in a heartbeat. But the big kids were constantly complaining that I treated the baby of the family with favor and I knew they were right. It was late, the snow cone machine was packed away, and it was time for bed.
Not time for snow cones.
But my boy felt deeply in his soul that he needed a snow cone. Once I said no I had to stick to it. Much weeping and wailing followed but I held my ground.
I rocked him a bit more, then we lay on the bed together, watching Sponge Bob. About every two minutes he would roll over to look at me with big sad eyes and say, "Mommy....PEEZE can me have a 'no cone?" Of course I would have to answer a quiet "No, maybe tomorrow", which was followed by a minute of tired, quiet sobs from his side of the pillow.
Finally, finally, he fell into a much needed sleep.
As I sat at the computer the next morning, checking my email before the kids got up, a squinty eyed pre-schooler opened the door to the office. Before his eyes even adjusted to the light, in a tiny voice, he said, "Mommy, can me have a 'no cone NOW?"
The email could wait, my boy had waited long enough.
We searched the cabinets, behind the waffle maker and the extra coffee pot, and we found the snow cone maker. We quickly set it up, filled it with fresh ice, and were cranking away with first morning energy.
Suddenly all that had been so wrong in his four year old world the night before was all better. The magic elixir of snow cone juice healed all. Very few times in life can such big problems be solved with such simple solutions. It was a new day and time for a fresh start.
And that is why Sam had a snow cone for breakfast.