We had a movie on and it was quiet. I was on one couch, Brandon on another, Henry running in between and keeping himself entertained with whatever it is that toddlers keep themselves entertained with. And then he was on the side of the couch, playing with the things sitting on the end table. Suddenly we heard crash! The lamp had fallen over and crashed to the ground. It was broken. Henry's eyes got wide as he looked between us wondering just who was going to yell at him, wondering how much trouble he was in.
But instead, Brandon took a deep breath and looked at Henry and said "Are you okay, buddy?" And it was as if I could see his tiny toddler shoulders fall back down away from his ears. He let his breath escape his little body. Brandon got up and picked the lamp up, trying to figure out how to fix it, but there was no use, it was broken, but luckily not shattered. I asked Henry if he wanted to watch a new movie and enthusiastically, he screamed "Super Why!" and that was that and we moved on.
This morning I read a meme on Facebook that said:
"When the milk is splattered all over the floor and those little eyes are looking at you for your reaction, remember what really matters. It takes five minutes to clean up spilled milk. It takes up much longer to clean up a broken spirit."
I've been guilty of letting my frustrations get the better of me. I don't want to clean up your milk again, I don't want to clean up your books for the one millionth time, I don't want to step on your blocks that you keep insisting on getting out, I don't want to clean food out of my couch. I don't want to put the pillows back on the couch. But those few minutes of taking the time to do something I don't want to do? Those pale in comparison to the hours of time that we're happy and enjoying life, despite the mess.
So though I know it's possible that I'm going to have to clean up the mess, I give him the cup at dinner without the lid on it so that he can drink like a big boy - though I know it's most likely going to end with milk on his shirt and milk on the chair and milk on the floor. And we get the books out that he loves to read and he sits on my lap and we read and read and throw them to the side as we finish one after another. And we build cars and towers with the blocks that he gets out, no matter that there's no where to walk. And we clean the popcorn out of our couch after we sit and watch a movie together on family movie night. And we put the pillows back on the couch after an epic Father-Son pillow fight.
And through it all the joy that registers on his face is totally worth the five minutes of cleaning I'm going to have to do throughout the day to get our lives back in order. And each time that we play these games and then I'm left with a mess, I think of those eyes that have looked at me and been grateful for our fun. That were grateful when I didn't yell about the milk that is now staining his shirt. That when I said "It's okay bud, we'll clean it up later", he was relieved, and truth be told, so was I. The non reaction reaction restored peace, and we can both be thankful for that.