We’ve had a busy week.
It’s been spring break and my mother-in-law is visiting, Todd and I took our first two-night stay away from the kids ever, and I have been catching up on work. So I haven’t seen the kids nearly as much I usually do. And, predictably, Julia is not having it.
Even when she was a baby, she would punish us for going out. She wouldn’t eat for any babysitter we got, and so she would stay up all night eating, snagging some quality mommy time.
Yesterday, I thought of her when I stopped into the grocery store on my lunch break. Though the kids love apples, I don’t buy them often because they are a bit hard on their tummies. But there were these huge, shiny green apples in the bruised bin, three for a dollar. I couldn’t resist. They had a few brown spots, nothing I couldn’t cut off.
I walked in the house after a longish day at work, and Julia ran up to me, asking the time-honored, welcome-home question: Did you get me a treat?
Yes, actually, I told her. I got you these apples.
My kids have a fairly restricted diet, so they are happy with foods that other kids consider quite run-of-the-mill. (I had one friend of Ethan’s ask if we had any snack foods after I put a bowl of fruit and cut veggies out for him after school. Snack foods, I assume, are distinguished by their colorful wrappers.) She bounded off with the apples, cut open the bag and returned to me a moment later.
These are brown. I don’t want brown apples.
I offered to cut them up, take off the brown spots, but no. Not good enough. Meanwhile, I had a bit of a virus, so I went to take a short cat nap. Julia popped in a few minutes later, still angry-faced, giving me the dirty eyeball. I asked her what was wrong, was she OK, etc. But she huffed out without saying anything. Finally, she stomped back in, and I inquired once again: Jujie, what’s up? She let me have it.
I WANTED A TREAT AND YOU GAVE ME ROTTEN FRUIT.
So I did.
And I thought about how much life is like this. We have high expectations, things aren’t going our way. All we want is a treat, and then what shows up looks, tastes and smells a lot like rotten fruit. I didn’t mention this to her, of course. Nobody wants to hear about how life is a lot like getting a bag of rotten fruit.
But I knew what my intention was. I gave those apples with love, and ultimately she ate one, sliced with a bit of cheddar. They weren’t so bad after all. Sometimes it just takes a moment to wrap our heads around the unexpected, a gift that doesn’t at first look like a gift. And with practice, we string those moments together, awareness widens, reactions soften. And after a while, nearly everything starts to looks like a gift at first glance. Nearly everything.