You’re eight years old and scooping cold cereal from a bowl. You’re watching early morning cartoons, so engrossed you let milk dribble onto the living-room coffee table.
Eat over your bowl, I tell you. How many times have I told you that?
You look at me warily. Then you cough, but you forget to cover your mouth.
Cover your mouth when you cough, I say. I must’ve told you that a thousand times. I’m tired of reminding you to follow these simple procedures. I wish that, at least for once, you would absorb my advice.
Now you’re taking your time with the cereal and the cartoons.
Get dressed, Michael, I say. But 10 minutes later, you’re still in your bathrobe, dawdling, a puddle of milk spreading on the coffee table. Get dressed! I boom. Now!
You gobble the last of your cereal and move toward your clothes. As you do, I smack you lightly on the behind.
Do this. Do that. Do it right. Do it now.
Why? I ask myself. So what if you spill some milk? So what if you cough without covering your mouth? Why must I play the drill sergeant, coming down so hard on my son?
I should let you off the hook, I think. Once in a while, I realize, I should just let the small stuff slide. If I accept you as you are, I might come closer to accepting myself, too.
P.S. – Three guest blogs will appear next week in honor of my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.