I don’t always know what to expect when I stop working for the day and set off to pick our son Theo up from school. Usually, he’s happy enough to come home and have a snack, but when it comes time to do homework, things typically start going downhill, and unpleasantness and frustration often follow. I recently decided to encourage Theo to “make his homework disappear” by having him do his homework at school after the bell and then call me to pick him up, thus leaving no work to do at home, or homework. This tactic hasn’t worked terribly well, as more often than not, when I arrive at the school, he reveals that he has only done a part of his homework or none at all. But I’ve been determined to persevere with this plan and was only temporarily set back when the office administrators told me I couldn’t let Theo call from the office every day for me to pick him up. That happened just before his birthday, so I talked to my husband David about getting him a phone for his birthday. He’d been asking for one, and we’d been resisting, but maybe we could use it to our advantage. I found an inexpensive phone at Target (on a prepaid plan) and we gave it to him as a birthday present with the requirement that he use it to call home after he’s finished his homework. Well, it’s been a week since his birthday, and I hate to admit, my cunning plan has not been working terribly well.
But… today something happened. At about 3:45pm, Theo called to ask to be picked up. He said he’d done all his homework. I said, “Wha…?” When he repeated it proudly, I told him how awesome he was and that I’d be there soon, but would have to run a quick errand before bringing him home. “That’s fine,” he said – no complaining whatsoever. Wow. By the time we got home, I was already giddy with parenting pride and relief, but Theo wasn’t done surprising me yet. When I asked him if he’d bought lunch at school, he said, “Yeah, I had a salad.” Again, I said, “Wha…?” He actually opted to eat something green and leafy. He’s pretty good at eating his vegetables at home, but that may have been the first time he’s chosen to eat them at school! And then out of his backpack he pulled a book, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. “I thought you might want to read this, Mummy, so I checked it out for you.” Wow again. Well, needless to say, I had to celebrate all of this amazingness. David was going out this evening, so I offered to make Theo spaghetti (his favorite) for dinner and asked if he’d like to watch a movie since we had the time tonight. He cheered, “Yes!” and we spent the evening curled up on the couch watching dinosaurs run amok in a Caribbean island theme park.
At 8:45pm, because we had no milk and I had no Giveaway to write about, I rushed out with still-very-cooperative Theo to our local Gelson’s armed with a tote bag to give away. (Not original but the best I could do at Theo’s bedtime.) At the checkout, I handed the checkout clerk the bag and awkwardly asked her if she would give it to the next customer who needed it. The man bagging groceries began opening it up for the next customer’s groceries, but the customer next in line had his own bag, so I tried awkwardly again to explain that it was for the next person who didn’t have a bag and needed one. Then I just gave up explaining, said thank you and left the shop with Theo, muttering to myself how messy that Giveaway had been. As we pulled out of our parking spot and began driving out of the lot, I caught sight of the man who’d been behind me in line. He was carrying two bags full of groceries. “Look, Theo!” I squealed, “He took the bag!”
I’m not sure Theo will ever understand why I was so over the moon that he’d done his homework, or why I was so excited about giving someone a bag. But maybe one day he’ll realize, as I have been doing more and more these days, that each and every one of the little victories that life offers is worth celebrating and savoring.