The kids happily deboarded the minivan, lugging along their backpacks and headed into the house. Emma and I scooted off, and all was right with the world. The sun was even shining brightly, and the sun roof was open. It was one of those afternoons where things seem "just right." It felt like everything was going according to plan, everyone seemed cheerful, and I recall birds gaily chirping. You get the scene.
And then, Pleasantville exploded with one little phone call. No matter what you do or where you live, you've had those calls. You know, the ones that let you know your plans have changed or the ones that let you know that folks are not doing what you wish they were doing or the day will not continue along in the same Zippity Do Dah way it was before the call. I don't mean the calls of really bad news; I mean the inconvenient calls, those that aggravate us. We all get them. This was mine . . . it was a recorded message.
(read this with the voice of a very upset eight year old and sound like the entire world as we know it is falling in. make it sound like you might actually be having a medical emergency and there is a chance that all of the other children in the house may have been crushed under a roof implosion. read it with a frog in your throat and make it sound like you could be close to your second to last breath ever. also read it like the entire world is working against you and that you may not be able to speak much longer.)
Mama, this is Harry. I really think you should come home because it's just really not working out without you. So, I mean you should come home quickly because everybody is kinda mixed up and Molly can't really handle it all so you need to come home soon because please so that Molly won't have to deal with all of this because everyone is just trying to let her speak to you, speak to her to ask her questions and I can't get Study Island to work and my paper is torn because of when I had my water bottle at school spilled when I had my bookbag, and so I mean, that's it because so please come home soon because I really want you to come soon and Molly can't figure it out. . . Oh, and this is Harry.
That was my call and I have written it here in its entirety. Apparently after the urgent call, Harry wasn't even able to muster the strength to hang up the phone or maybe the friends had risen up in a coo and had taken over the entire house; so I couldn't get them back on the phone. Things were bad. That was clear. Completely clear.
Ughhh. The birds stopped singing, I stopped whistling, and I dreaded the return to the scene of the crime and destruction. I gave up on the afternoon. It was ruined. I knew when I got back the four I had dropped off would be in tears, the house would be a mess, the dog would have eaten all of the homework and the children may have even eaten the dog. The siblings would be fighting, there would probably be debris in the yard, and somehow I figured someone else would have entered the scene. I don't know, someone like the Orkin man or something.
The moods of the whole lot of us would sour. Yuck. I can't remember what day it was, but I remember thinking that I had never liked that particular day of the week anyway. Ugghhh again. We picked up our new friend and headed back home. I did my best to cover my aggravation, but in my heart I knew . . . I knew the whole afternoon was a mess now.
You know how that goes. Everything is rolling right along, and then . . . boom! One phone call or one conversation or one bit of financial news or traffic pile-up or misunderstanding changes the whole day. You just kind of know it's a wash. That was the deal. We drove up, I dreaded getting out of the car and facing the natives and the dog was barking.
I braced myself and pushed open the door. I slowly turned to peer into the kitchen, just hoping to see at least one child still able to walk on his own accord. I prayed for the best. I hoped for a miracle.
Guess what I saw? Three kids sitting at the kitchen table, busily working on homework and one in the study on the computer. Molly was helping one of our friends on his math and the dog settled back in her favorite spot on top of the couch. Everything looked exactly like it had before I left. Everything except for the bookbags and pencils and papers and textbooks. There was a little bit of laughing, a hello or two to the new friend and that was pretty much it!
I was ready to fold in the whole day! What! I had already called it quits on a happy family night and then come home to THIS! I asked Molly how things were, expecting that this question would lead to the impending destruction of the day - "Oh, everything is great! I got the boys working on their Math, Harry had a little trouble signing onto the website but we got that worked out, we found one of the homework papers had gotten wet from a water bottle but we put it out flat on the table and it's almost dry. Everything is great! What did you get us for snack?" I asked Harry how everything was, knowing that surely this question would explain my doomed mood. "Oh, everything is good. We're almost finished with our homework, we just need to finish our spelling. I tried to call you earlier but I couldn't get you, so I left you a message."
'YOU LEFT ME A MESSAGE' I thought. YOU TOLD ME THE SKY WAS FALLING, AND I BELIEVED YOU! A MESSAGE? THAT WAS MORE AKIN TO THE LAST CALL IN A MOVIE BEFORE A BUILDING BLOWS UP! A MESSAGE?
And, that was that. Nothing was wrong. No one was unhappy. Everyone's homework was finished. Friends were happy. Snack was good. The sun kept shining and the birds began again their singing. I took my little buddy's message and decided that indeed it was all BAD. I wrote off the rest of the day. I took one little piece of crazy news and painted it all over everything before I even checked it out. I let myself let go of a little piece of goodness just from that.
We could learn a couple of different things from this scenario.
- My son has an overactive sense of the dramatic and apparently needs to 'get it out of his system' to feel better and move on.
- Sometimes we too easily let go of the good and decide to let a tiny bit of bad cover our day or our week or our life.
I already know the validity of No. 1. He does have an overactive sense of the dramatic. I don't think that's what I'll take from this afternoon, though.
How often do we let this kind of thing happen? Why is it so easy to 'sell out' when things are moving right along?
It's raining cats and dogs outside today. I have a lot of work I need to be doing. Harry is home sick. Things need to be straightened up quite a bit. But guess what? All is well. Tim is off today and he just built a fire, I love writing a blog, Sadie is back up in her spot on the couch and everything is pretty darn great. I think I'll be a bit more careful next time I ruin a good day with just one little bit of uggghhhhh. Hope you will, too.