Our 7-year old has learned an important lesson.
He learned that a child can, indeed, hurt a parent's feelings.
Yesterday afternoon, Hubby and Eldest, Nike bat bag and baseball gloves in hand, excitedly headed to the indoor batting cages in town...even though there's a foot of snow on the ground and spring in New England seems eons away...
They were gone for about an hour. But when they returned to the Trenches, both trudged dejectedly in the back door, heads down, eyes lowered.
"What's wrong?" I asked, knowing that something must have happened.
Hubby answered tersely, "Ask your son" and left the room.
When I questioned Eldest, he just shrugged his shoulders and walked away.
The Trenches felt heavy with unspoken tension. Hubby barked at Eldest to put his baseball stuff away and then reprimanded him to pick up his sneakers.
And then? Hubby sulked on the couch. Notsomuch mad sulking though. It was a sad kind of sulking.
Something was definitely amiss.
When I finally got a chance to speak with Hubby alone, he told me what had happened.
None of the other father/son groups had shown up to the batting cages, so it was just Hubby and Eldest. (Meaning Hubby alone had to pay for the entire hour that the batting cage had been booked, so Hubby forewarned Eldest that their time there was expensive, so they needed to make the most of it.)
They played catch. Eldest didn't want to use 2 hands (as per Hubby's instructions), so the ball kept popping out of his glove.
Eldest wanted to bunt. Yet he wouldn't listen to Hubby's advice on how to do it properly.
He insisted on using a bat that was too small for him.
All of these behaviors? Age-appropriate, certainly, for a 7-year old.
So in the car on the way home, a much frustrated Hubby tried to explain to Eldest that he was only trying to help. That he wants Eldest to always try his best. That he wants Eldest to listen to him. And then Hubby concluded with, "If you don't want me to teach you anymore, just say so. I won't help you and I won't coach you."
And Eldest, from the backseat, spoke:
"I don't want you to teach me anymore."
(That was Hubby's heart, shattering.)
Hubby's eyes welled up with tears as he relayed all this to me. He went on to to tell me that when he was growing up, his father was always working. Athletics weren't important in his family. That he played sports and learned and practiced all on his own. With no parental involvement whatsoever. And that all he wants for his sons is to BE THERE. TO BE INVOLVED. For them to know that their father is there to help them, to guide them.
And then my eyes welled up.
So when Hubby left to take a shower, I approached Eldest. I put him on my lap and asked gingerly, "Geez, Daddy sure seems sad. Do you know why?"
He shook his head tentatively.
"I think his feelings are hurt. Do you think maybe you might have said something to make your Daddy sad?"
"I told Daddy that I didn't want his help..."
Instantly, recognition fell over my son's eyes. It was definitely a light bulb moment for him. And he began to cry. Hard.
I tried my best to comfort him, but at the same time, I wanted to make sure he really knew how much his words had hurt his father.
And then? We were BOTH crying. My 7-year old, curled in my lap, sobbing his eyes out, while I rocked him and tried to make him understand his father's pain amidst my own silent tears.
Eldest got it. He really did. He wasn't crying the dramatic tears of "Gosh I'm in trouble and I better make this good and dramatic" or "If I cry, maybe I won't be in as much trouble."
I honestly could tell that his own little heart broke once he realized that he really, really had hurt his Daddy's feelings.
Anyway, once Hubby got out of the shower, I instructed him to go talk with a very upset Eldest in Eldest's bedroom. Behind closed doors, they had a father-son talk (of which I'm not privy) amidst more tears and hugging. And forgiveness.
And so, on this day, his 39th birthday, this one goes out to Hubby. For being the absolute best man, husband and father a woman could ever dare dream for. I'm so very lucky and blessed, indeed.
Happy 39th, dear.