Friday, October 19, 2012


"I do it myself."  

The Toddler sat tangled in a web of drawstrings and sports bags as he struggled to put a very large soccer ball into a very small-mouthed bag.
A feat that he'd seen his siblings do a thousand times. 
The Teenager, sprawled on the floor beside him, turned back to me in exasperation.  
"He won't let me help him."  
The Toddler continued to struggle to make the ball fit into a too-small opening.
The ball escaped the hands of the little one and rolled to the other side of the room. 
With two free hands, he now used both of them to fight the drawstrings of the bag and wound them tighter into a wad of knots.
The Teenager's gentle hands reached to help.   
The Toddler's fumbling hands yanked the bag out of reach. 
"I said I do it myself."  
Shaking his head, the Teenager strolled back to me and sat at the table to watch.
"If he would just let me help him.  I've done this before."
The irony of his statement did not escape me.  
I'd said the same thing to my husband the night before about the Teenager.

"If he would only be open to letting us help him navigate through these teenage years, we could help him so much."

The Toddler continued to wrestle the bag and the ball. 
The Teenager continued to offer to help.   
The Toddler glared at the Teenager in fury. 
The Teenager glared at the Toddler in frustration.
Hands open to help, he said,
"Just let me help you.  If you just loosen this little notch..."
The Toddler interrupted. 
They both turned their heads to look at me to intervene.  
I shook my head. 
I'm letting this one play out.   It's too good of a life lesson for me. 
I think they both rolled their eyes at me.    Or maybe it was just one of them...

"How can you stand to watch him fight this so much when it would be so easy if we just took the bag from him...opened the mouth wide...and shoved the ball inside.  This isn't that hard.   Why won't he just let me help him?"    

In the quietness of the previous night, my husband and I had wondered the same thing about the Teenager.    If only this young man would fully listen and be humbly open to the fact that indeed his parents have been teenagers before and we might have a little wisdom to offer.     If only he would not just listen out of respect...but what if he actually received what we said?    If only he would let us be his guide...

The Toddler---weary of not winning this battle with the ball---started to cry.  
He finally looked up into the kind face of the Teenager.  
The Teenager looked down into the watery eyes of the Toddler. 
Silence.   Just tears from the little one.  
He just couldn't seem to ask for help from the brother he had repeatedly rejected.
The Teenager cautiously worked his way closer to ball,
closer to the bag with a mess of string, and closer to the Toddler.  
"Can I help you?" The Teenager, once more, quietly asked. 
The Toddler nodded his head.   Still crying.

Together, the Teenager and the Toddler lay on the floor while the strong, almost man-like hands of the eldest guided the tiny, clumsy hands of littlest.    Together, they unwound the knots created in the struggle and opened wide the mouth of the bag.     The Teenager held the bag open as the Toddler proudly pushed the ball into place.   Together, they high-fived in victory.   
"I did it."
The Teenager smiled and let the credit go.  
"You did it." 

As the Toddler ambled off for the next project, the Teenager chuckled and commented at the length of time it took for one soccer ball to get into a bag.  
"You know, Mom, it didn't have to be that hard."

Believe me, Son, I do know.