Many, many days you’ll find me at the kitchen island, a cup of coffee before me as I rub my temples to stave off the headache that two way-too-loud kids are trying to give me.
Every day is an internal battle of my trying to raise them right, keep them in line, not being too hard, not being too soft.
Am I doing more right than wrong?
When will I find out?
Then a moment comes.
Today it was a typical morning: no one’s listening, kids are fighting, I’m chasing down missing red shirts for the Holiday concert, reminding one kid he needs to eat faster than a snail’s pace, trying to pep-talk another into not being too scared of going on stage.
I run upstairs yelling behind me, “Wait downstairs!” and of course find myself being followed by my two shadows into my 6.5yo son’s bedroom.
I’m rummaging through his closet, and what do I see?
I gave them to my 4.5yo daughter, asked why she put her handmade beaded bracelets in there, when my son comes close and whispers in my ear, “I made them for her for Christmas. They are a SURPRISE for her stocking.”
I couldn’t help but pull him to me in a breathless hug.
My daughter immediately dropped them on the floor, squeezed her eyes shut, slapping her palms over her face, and shout-whispered to me, “I didn’t see anything! I didn’t see ANYTHING! PUT THEM BACK!”
I put the bracelets back where I found them, and pretended nothing happened.
So did they.
My son ran ahead downstairs, and when he was out of earshot my daughter asked me if I could find the bin of beads so she could make him a Christmas surprise, too.
Fighting tears, I squeezed her tight. “Of course, honey. Of course.”
On two tiny feet, she pranced away, giddy with her secret plan.
I sat there on the quiet floor of my son’s bedroom, listening to their chatter below me with different ears.
They are good kids. They love each other. They understand what it is to give, and what it means to receive.
As the person who’s been trying so hard to teach them these things, wondering and worrying about whether it’s all sinking in…I needed to find those bracelets.
I needed to ruin that surprise for my daughter from my son.
By ruining that surprise, I got to witness my kids be the kind of people who try hard to find a way to fix a ‘ruined surprise’ for each other, with no hard feelings even considered.
Seeing my children show this side of themselves was a gift I never expected.
And I couldn’t be happier with it.