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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In which the boy almost got the long board.

"So, X-Man, what's the best part of your summer so far?"

"Can it be something that hasn't happened yet?"

"Sure."

"Pottery Camp!"

He was so excited about it. He started taking orders from friends and family weeks in advance, planning all sorts of projects. My children have confidence that I never had. It makes me feel like I might have done something right. He started camp Monday.

Oddly, he didn't have much to say about it that night. Usually, he has something to say about everything. He follows me around the house telling me about his day, his favorite book, his Lego project, whatever. The next morning, he told me in a tiny voice that he didn't want to go back to Pottery Camp. When I asked him why, the dam broke and he wept.

"I can't do the wheel. Everybody else could. I'm awful!"

Seven year olds are big boys, or so they think. He tried to control himself, but he was too sad. My heart broke. I explained the obvious, that other beginners were probably having trouble, too, and he would be able to do it soon. He sobbed.

"Everyone could do it...even L...he's a beginner and he's younger than me!"

My sweet seven year old, who almost never sits in my lap any more, curled up in my lap. The top of his head still smells like the toddler he just was. After a while, he trudged upstairs to talk to his older brother.

"Well, you think I'm really stupid," I heard him say.

He and his brother talked while I sat at the top of the stairs in my pajamas and tried to listen. I couldn't hear much, but I did hear this.

"I used to suck at Level 2, but I got better."

I figured this wasn't the time to explain that we don't say "suck" and that video games are not worthy of that much effort, because O. was too busy talking his brother off the ledge. It was working and I didn't want to interrupt. Also, I get kind of emotional when I hear my kids being that sweet to each other, when I haven't even threatened them.

He sounded like he was doing better, so I abandoned my hiding place and went upstairs, so grateful to his big brother, who doesn't really think the X-Man is stupid after all. He looked so tiny, lying face down on the sofa in the Kids' Lounge. I could see my older son, years from now, as a father, trying to comfort his own son. I told the X-Man I thought he should give it another shot and, if it didn't work, he didn't have to go back.

"Well..." he sighed, "The worst part is I ruined my shoes!"

No big deal, I promise, I can wash them.

"Well, I can't even find them!"

Well, a ruined pair of shoes we can't find isn't really ruined, it's just lost. And I happen to know he left them at his cousins' house. And that I can wash them. And that they're a pair of ridiculously worn flip-flops, so the fact that they're lost, ruined or both is no big deal.

It's funny how one disappointment can turn into a dark cloud that makes everything worse. How many times have I done that? I finish an assignment a day late, so I'm a loser. Which means I'm also ugly, have no friends and can't cook. I don't get invited to a party, so no one likes me, I'm still ugly and I'll never accomplish anything. And my ankles are really, really fat. Huh.

I know you won't be surprised to hear it all worked out in the end. He went, promising to try for one more day. My sister in law picked him up and sent me this text:

"X-Man is very happy. He made 4 pots on the wheel. He says he didn't realize it would be so hard, but now he can do it."

You probably also won't be surprised to hear that I got a little bit weepy over that text and forwarded it to my husband, who was also relieved. I just want my children to be happy. And it destroys my soul when they're that sad about something. It's almost more than I can take. I totally get why parents spoil their children. They want them to be happy and they don't know how else to do it.

I came closer than I'd like to admit to buying the long board while he was at pottery camp, so he could have it when he got home. The long board would make him forget all about his inability to do pottery, right? And he would be happy. Until he had trouble riding the long board and abandoned it for something else, which he might also have trouble doing. And on it would go... I didn't buy it, of course. Even if he hadn't enjoyed the second day of Pottery Camp, I wouldn't have bought it. Happy things don't cancel sad things. At best, they might work as a distraction. I did the right thing...and I saved a hundred and nine bucks! Hooray!

But I think I am going to let him buy it this weekend, with his own money. My sister in law talked me into it, because she said you can't do tricks on them and it's very hard to fall off. And I can't stand for my kids to be sad or get hurt. Bet he'll manage one or twice though.

Namasté, y'all!




12 comments:

Roger Hutchison said...

You moved my heart with this one.

Anonymous said...

"I just want my children to be happy. And it destroys my soul when they're that sad about something. It's almost more than I can take."

Even when they're 23 and living 5 hrs away from you, this sentiment doesn't change. This Sunday at church, the reading was about Solomon and what was the one thing he'd ask for if he could ask for anything from God (because God asked him and Solomon asked for understanding of his people, thus, his claim to wisdom) and the priest asked us to think what'd we want - and my first instinct was "for my kids to be happy". Selfish? I don't know...

At any rate, society is fortunate for the citizens you're preparing for us in those children of yours.

Suz said...

Awww..so sweet.

And I completely agree re: one bad event can color everything else. I'm there right now. Your post helped me realize how silly I'm being, so thanks, girl!

Anonymous said...

Anne --

Adam has a longboard that currently is living on my side porch. If the X-Man wants to come over and try it out before committing his hard earned $$ to buying one, send him over and Adam will let him borrow it.

Anonymous said...

If I come home with a broken arm, you can safely assume that I borrowed Adam's longboard.

Blog O' Beth said...

You totally made me cry. That was awesome

jlathren said...

I am totally weepy over here and I don't even know your children. Thanks for this post. Helps me keep things in perspective.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written.. I am glad he conquered his fear. Go X Man
Summer Pool Friend

Brenda said...

What a touching post. Way to go X-Man, and way to resist trying to make it better, Anne.

VA said...

I love this story so much! V

Libby said...

Beautiful!

Vicki said...

This is sweet. I want to go to pottery camp too. I dropped out of ceramics in college because we were going to have to write papers in the class. Oh, and it was at 8 a.m. I just wanted to learn to make pots.