the following may be old news for those of you who are part of the milan vineyard (happened to mention it last sunday), but our 4 year old son Colin has one relative in particular who will be quite proud of him after hearing this:
tuesday evening, just returned from Chicago, trying to prepare for our home group that evening. Ronni's cooking dinner, but i don't really notice. or if i do, i'm too preoccupied to do the math. preoccupied with myself, as it turns out.
"dinner time," she calls.
"oh, didn't i tell you? i'm not really hungry. too much to do to get ready tonight," i say, as i look at the beautiful spread on the table. spaghetti, homemade rolls, steamed vegetables. Colin, seated across from me, eagerly waiting to say grace and dig in.
an incredulous look spreads over Ronni's normally placable face. a sinking feeling develops in the pit of my stomach. hmm... i think, maybe that was the wrong answer.
"you're not hungry? didn't you see me cooking for the last hour and a half!? why didn't you say something? save me from all that work? i only did all this for you."
good questions. to which an intelligent, emotionally balanced person would reply, "i'm so sorry. i got all wrapped up in myself, and totally ignored you. please forgive me. my appetite seems to have returned full force. let's eat!"
but here's what i say: "oh yeah?! well, why didn't you notice how much i had to get done for home group tonight? couldn't you tell there's no way i'd be eating dinner tonight?"
remarkably, Ronni doesn't slap me. instead she just says, "Jesse, please stop. you're not making things any better. i had just put a lot of work into this, and was hoping you'd enjoy it. please don't make me feel worse."
stop, who me? no way. i'm like a tired kid who missed his nap, all filters are gone. i'm just getting rolling. "(dripping with sarcasm now) yeah, that's my goal in life, to make you feel awful. i thought to myself, look how hard Ronni is working because she loves me. i wonder what i can do to really hurt her. oh, i know. i'll tell her i'm not hungry. yeah, that's the ticket."
it gets kind of foggy at this point. i think i go on, i think i'm like a train that's been derailed, all self control has jumped the tracks. bodies are piling up, until the voice of God comes booming out of Colin's mouth, like Jesus' voice silences the infamous storm on the sea of Gallilee.
"what, Colin?" irritably, because he's interrupted my narcissistic flow.
"Dad, you should stop. when Mom tells you to stop doing something, you need to stop it." bright eyed, confident, cheerful. says it like it's self evident. as if he's explaining gravity to a four year old.
i squirm, hem and haw, babble something about how yes, those are his rules, but they don't apply the same way to dads, etc.
"no, Dad. you should stop right now." assertive, firm, his eyes putting a half-nelson on my soul. "you're letting your emotions be in charge of you."
"my emotions be in charge of me?" I exclaim, flabbergasted. or maybe just gasted.
"yes, Dad. you need to be in charge of your emotions. then you can stop like Mom says."
Ronni and i have lost it now. she's laughing, smiling triumphantly (as she should), and i'm laughing, cringing, humbled, melting like so much margerine in the heat of my son.
"and what should i stop doing, Colin?" i ask.
"stop making things worse for Mom," he explains, matter of factly. matter of factly, indeed.