I had to get Shakir from school today so I sacrificed my lunch hour so I could leave work at half past three. My mother had to attend a funeral so she was unable to get him for me today. As I approached the school, I saw him running in the opposite direction with another boy and I hoped he wasn't too far out of sight by the time I got there. I need not have worried. The old gentleman, who seems to alternate between caretaker and watchman, spotted me and after showing me Shakir's bags neatly hanging on the fence by the gate, he was gracious enough to call him for me. As always, my heart always leaps by bounds when I see my smiling boy running toward me with a big grin that takes up about half his face. For the split second it lasts, I feel appreciated and loved and blessed all at once. By the time he reached me, his cheerful demeanour had evaporated and had been replaced by a dark scowl. "What's the matter with you?" I ask.
"I wanted granny to come," he said simply.
I didn't say the thing that sprang to mind first, but I have to admit that although I wasn't upset by his response, I wasn't totally thrilled either. I was lucky to get a ride to the top of the hill this evening, so I didn't have to walk up the long road. However, I still had a fairly long walk all the way to the school. The sun felt like it was trying to cook me. My skin literally felt like it was on fire. My feet felt like they wanted to give out, because they usually hurt anyway and the walk was an added strain. Toss in the fact that hadn't eaten anything really nourishing and the first words out of his mouth is he wanted his granny. The least he could have done is given me a hug. People don't tell you this, but sometimes you can think up some awful things to say to your kids, but most times you don't. "She couldn't make it," I said. "She had a funeral, but tomorrow things will be back to normal and she'll come for you."
"How come you were late?"
I wanted to scream, but I remained patient. Another thing they don't tell you is that kids are often ungrateful. And although my son is a blessing to me in several ways, he is no different. But he probably handled it better than I would have at his age. I'm fairly sure there wouldn't have been any running or any grin for my mother in the first place. I would probably have given her some monosyllabic answer and waited for her to explain herself. How dare she be late! In hindsight, my inflated sense of justifiable righteousness, is amusing, but seeing the lesser form of it mirrored in my son was not amusing. "I don't work for myself," I said. "And it didn't make sense to come early and then have to try to get back over the hill in this heat within the hour. You didn't have to stay too late though and now we can go home."
Just the other day, while at the clinic, I mentioned to him that I was bit hungry and he quite matter-of-factly told me to stop complaining. I didn't agree that was what I was doing, but it came to mind this evening when after we got to town, he asked me if we would be getting into another van. I told him we would walk and the complaining began. Truthfully, he was already drenched in perspiration and I wasn't too sure he wouldn't topple over in a high wind, but I made up in my mind not be deterred. Experience has taught me that in spite of exhaustion, he will get a second wind once we step through the house and he'll give me just as much trouble as if he hadn't just worn himself out walking, so trust me when I say I didn't feel sorry for him one bit. A little later, he looked at me with his most miserable face and declared that he was tired of walking and he wished he was already home, but even that didn't move me. I told him he should stop talking so he could conserve energy and also to walk a little faster. I should have told him stop complaining.
Allison is mother to two active boys who challenge her on a day to day basis with their escapades. In her other life, Allison juggles a regular day job as a marketing executive in a health food organization. At night, when everyone is asleep, she dreams of being a fulltime writer and super hero.