I almost missed it.
In the cloud of tension that develops around homework in our house, I almost missed it.
With the frustration that creeps through my veins when my teen moves as slow as molasses, I almost missed it.
Thank God, I didn’t.
Thank you, God, for the inclination to consciously put aside the squabbles about what it means to “do your best” on homework — and whether or not my son was out the door on time.
Thank you, God, for nudging me to remember to create time for just us, an opportunity to be fully present to Ben, the precious being whose emotional well-being is my first priority above all else (…yes, even homework).
Thank you, God, for offering up an activity we would both have fun doing and for helping me stop to notice it.
In the car, on the way to The Paint Bar, I set a 15-minute limit on conversation about homework. “Let’s spend no more than 15 minutes making a homework plan for after we get home, then drop the subject of homework completely for the afternoon.”
With a smile, he agreed.
Hours later, relaxed and nourished with warmth and connection, we were back in the kitchen at home.
And he asked me a question I’ll never forget. It was a question I can’t share publicly because it’s tender and that wouldn’t be fair to him. I really don’t mean to string you along…the content of the question he asked is really so NOT the point anyway.
What is the point?
The point is this: It was a BIG IMPORTANT question, one that he needed to talk about. And had we been lost in a homework tug-of-war, it would never have been asked.
It was the kind of question you wouldn’t want your teen (or anyone) to sit and stew on alone.
It was the kind of topic that needed space to breathe so it could take flight and not weigh him down.
It was the kind of question that breaks my heart to imagine him trying to make sense of on his own.
And on his own is how he could easily have felt if I didn’t put boundaries around the homework conversation.
Homework isn’t everything. Sometimes I can get myself worked up, and begin to feel and act like it is.
It’s embarrassing to admit because I “should know better” – but I get hooked. Homework is the bait, and I am the fish.
Thankfully, by the grace of a moment of clarity, I took the hook out of my mouth on this day and was able to be fully present to my son. I got to see my teen with fresh eyes and truly focus on the many wonderful things he continues to be — artistic, fun, smart, thoughtful, engaging, comfortable, and (by the way) willing to take risks on the paint canvas with a dash of confidence over here on this blue line — and over there with the sunset in bright, wide, bold colors.
We sat. We played. We created. We admired each other’s art. We listened to music. We sang. We chatted about nothing.
And in that space grew the opportunity for the conversation I wouldn’t have missed for the world.
But I almost missed it…and I’m hoping that by sharing this with you today, I’ll help you “not miss” something equally important.
There may be someone in your life that needs your ears and your heart…someone with whom you’ve had tension that needs to be set aside for awhile so you can see each other for who you are right now in this minute, not dragging the past or the future with you.
What can you do to create some special time with that person?
An important conversation may be hovering, out there waiting to swoosh into the space of warmth and connection you create.
I hope it’s magical.
I’d love to hear about it.