If I were him, I would have complained…like SUPER, BIG-TIME complained!
We had already re-traced our leaf-littered steps all the way back to the parking lot to retrieve his sister’s lost moccasin when I realized my right hand was empty and my stainless steel travel mug was MIA.
Stowing the hipster shoes in the car and grabbing for a nutritious snack of
pomegranate seeds fruit snacks, I asked Caden to go on another “adventure.” Thinking he would most definitely revolt and sniff out my fraudulent “adventure” lingo, I braced myself for a bout of conflict, but it never came.
In fact, you would have never known that his little legs had already spent the previous hour running and exploring the nooks and crannies of this beautiful park based on his enthusiastic response.
“Sure, Mommy! Let’s go!!”
WHEW! He bought it, and I had dodged a conflict bullet.
After backtracking to the place where I thought I had left the mug (not so much), we circled the park one last time (scouring the wooden, worn benches and searching under the ivy-filled arbors) before hitting up the LOST and FOUND desk in a last-ditch effort to find my coffee-carrying vessel.
No such luck.
Heading back to the parking lot for a SECOND time that morning, I begrudgingly conceded to my pride. Fair and square, I had lost the mug.
I had just taken Evie out of the Bjorn (making sure her socks were still attached) and had secured the buckles on her car seat when my memory flickered. I was fairly sure I knew where I had left my mug.
At this point, some of you might be wondering if this mug was made of gold, a priceless family heirloom. or my only mug to drink from…but unfortunately, this mug is none of the above. It’s cheap and one of many, but I really hate losing things.
Seriously, there’s absolutely NO WAY this side of the Mississippi that this tired and very hungry three year-old is going on another “adventure” with his loosey, goosey Mommy.
My pride wasn’t willing to let it go. That was MY cup, and my hand was not leaving empty (even if it meant my children would suffer some inconvenience).
“I think Mommy remembers where I put my mug.
WHAT? No fight? Who is this kid? His name means “spirit of battle” for goodness sake! Is he really going to traipse this park AGAIN for a stainless steel mug that smells like coffee even after a good washing with Palmolive?!?!
While his spirit was willing, I quickly secured Evie and grabbed for the hand of my alien-child.
Trusting my 31 year-old memory (I know, I know…it was a gamble), we headed back to the Edible Gardens.
I was fully expecting the complaints to come once he realized the Edible Garden wasn’t a hop, skip, and jump away, but they never came.
No objections…no griping…no whining…and no protests.
I started feeling guilty and annoyed with my absentminded-self for dragging my tired, hungry children on another wild goose chase for a silly mug when Caden said…
“I love you, sweet Mommy.”
I almost burst into tears.
He could have responded with anger, but he responded with grace.
He could have responded with irritation, but he responded with kindness.
He could have responded with criticism, but he responded with love.
He could have responded with refusal, but he responded with willingness.
“Oh, Caden. I love you, too, sweet boy.”
As we walked back to the car hand in hand, I felt convicted.
Jessica, when you’re inconvenienced, is your first response grace?
Jessica, when you’re tired and hungry, is your first response kindness?
Jessica, when someone else forgets and makes a mistake, is your first response love?
Jessica, when someone else asks you to go the extra mile, is your first response willingness?
No, no, and NO.
I felt a sudden rush of thankfulness for my son’s slow-to-anger, loving response.
I wasn’t entitled to it.
I didn’t earn it.
I hadn’t begged for it.
I couldn’t even expect it.
…but he had graciously given it.
Without knowing it, my son had just demonstrated the words of 1 Peter 4:8 to his very forgetful and proud Mommy.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Leaving the park that morning, I left with more than an empty mug in hand…I left that park with a brimming heart.