At eight years old, my son taught me an important lesson in body language and soul-speak.
After walking home from the bus stop, he came through the door, smiling.
In quick succession, I issued a list of his moving violations.
- You wore that shirt?
- Don’t slouch!
- You forgot your homework again.
From “Glad to be home from school – oh look, there’s my Mom!”
to “Guess I did something wrong and didn’t even know it.”
Looked like a tiny candle’s flame, fading. Flickering out. Poof!
That very day, I learned something. I felt terrible that I had made my own child feel so terrible.
Next afternoon, I started a new tradition.
Since that time and to this day, when he comes home from school, I don’t harp or hassle or harangue. I don’t carp or criticize or cauterize with my words.
Front door opens. I dance.
Flail around like a dadblamed fool.
Like a cheerleader hailing a champion.
I clap my hands and sing. “My son is home! My sooooon is hooooome. Yay! Tell me all about your day, son,” as if talking to Magellan, returning from high seas with tall tales.
Sure, he may roll his eyes at such a dramatic display of MotherLove; still, he walks slowly down the hall to his room, as if secretly appreciating being appreciated.
Teaching is a part of life for all of us, but I’ve never learned anything from being yelled at, picked on or beaten down.
My son may have been the one coming home from school, but I’m the one who learned a lesson.
Note to self: When people you love come home, make them feel at home.
Love your loved ones.
Sounds obvious, but this basic truth can get lost in translation. I’m so glad I finally listened.