Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. - From the Bible, Galatians VI
I didn’t catch the first part of the interaction. When we came upon the scene there was a little girl, maybe 8 or 9, with her arms crossed tightly across her chest, that pouty little kid look, lip sticking out, looking away from her mom, sort of stomping in a different direction.
We were under the Arthur Ravenel Bridge in Charleston. Pretty day. A little hot, a little muggy. Big storm coming. Big old dark clouds. Gusty wind. Still sunny, but there was going to be a whopper of a storm soon. We were in this park area under the bridge. People were on a pier fishing nearby, eating lunch in the shade, lovers holding hands, kids hanging out with grandparents while on vacation.
There was this little group approaching the pier as we were going to our car. I had to smile a little at the little girl’s attitude. What parent hasn’t been there? I recognized the pout.
She was being fussy. A few adult friends were behind Mom waiting to see what she would do.
“Want to go back to the car and have a little conversation between you’re ass and my hand?” Mom threatened loudly. “Cause that’s what ‘gonna happen if you don’t shut your mouth.” Mom smirked for the benefit of the other grownups. Little one clammed up. My guess is that she didn’t want to have that particular conversation. Mom was smug. The other adults grinned their satisfaction at Mom’s response. Humiliation for the girl. Mom came out on top. And the group walked on.
Looked like a pattern. My guess is that they have had this “conversation” before. It looked rehearsed.
I don’t claim to have any sixth sense. I am not a shrink. I don’t know those people. I’ll never see them again. But I had a feeling that there was going to be a storm coming in their lives too. Clear for now. A little windy maybe. But there were some dark clouds on their horizon. This time, the little one sucked it up. Took the humiliation. Mom won. Child lost.
But there will come a time several years out when things will change. The little girl will be as big as Mom. She won’t be intimidated by the threat of an ass/hand conversation. As a matter of fact, at some point their life curves will change. The Little girl will get the upper hand physically. If all Mom has in her repertoire is the old ass/hand conversation she is going to be outgunned.
Now I am not saying that I haven’t made mistakes as a parent. I’ve made plenty. But there was never a point in my boys’ lives (now young men – Thanks Be To God!), when they didn’t know that I loved them unconditionally. Even when there were consequences.
And now, I consider them my best friends. They are both physically stronger than me, can run faster, have better memories, better senses of direction, etc. I am not over the hill by any means, just no spring chicken.
And because they have always known unconditional love, we count on each other. We share problems and frustrations. We laugh until our faces hurt. We take each other to movies, share favorite music, and share secrets. We lean on each other. We take care of each other. I can honestly say we have never had an ass/hand conversation. And I think we are better for it.