I Used To Be Perfect
June 6, 2006
Remember my motivational speech to my children that I wrote about in my last post?
My oldest son hit his first homerun last night. He was thrilled. And I was $20 poorer.
The night before my 10 year old hit two doubles and a single. And I was $5 lighter in the wallet.
I’d like to think it was my incredibly motivating and inspirational talk with my sons, and not the lure of cold hard cash.
It’s funny, before I had children I though I would be one of those parents who didn’t bribe or punish. I strongly felt that the intrinsic value of doing something would be lost if I put an outside motivator on it. But my children were also going to be perfect and want to learn their multiplication tables for fun and spend their spare time composing original violin concertos to play on their weekly visits to the elderly. They would self discipline!
Before I had children, I was the perfect mother.
And so the other night after my motivational speech, when my 10 yr old asked, will you give me something if I hit the ball into the outfield? After negotiating we decided on $1 for a single, $2 for a double, etc. The kids has the best game of his short little life, probably because he was too busy mentally calculating his newly acquired cash and what he would buy with it,than feeling anxious.
The 11 yr old said, “That’s not fair.”
I answered, “Welcome to my life, dear.”
“What if I hit a homerun? Like out of the ballpark homerun? Will you give me $20?” he pressed on.
I calculated the odds of that happening. He has never hit a homerun. I figured my money was safe.
So under the guise of being magnanimous I answered, “Sure. Why not.”
At 8:00 pm last night I got a phone call from him on his father’s cell phone. He hit that homerun.
I wasn’t there.
“I wish you had seen it, Mom.”
I think I may have died a little.
He came home with the ball. A dirty, smudged ball, that someone had dug out of the woods and given it to him. He held it up proudly, for all of us to gaze upon it’s magnificence. He wanted me to write the date on it so he could save it.
I pulled out my trusted Sharpie, asked him to verify the date on the calendar, took a deep breath to steady my hand, and proceeded to write the wrong date. The wrong freaking date.
He cried. I scrubbed the little spot on the ball trying to get the marker off. In the end I was able to “fix” it in a way that was acceptable to him, and if you didn’t know any better you wouldn’t even notice. But you’ll always be able to see that little clean spot, where I tried to fix my mistake.
Every time I look at that little ball sitting on his shelf, I’ll remember this night, and my woefully inadequate self.
My kids might not be perfect, but I love them just the way they are. I hope they think the same about me.
$20 should buy a little forgiveness… right? right?
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