Today, after breakfast, as I was psyching myself up to go down to the basement and bring up the clean clothes so that Gideon would actually have something to wear today, I tripped over Gideon's yo-yo. The string became entangled in my feet and I kind of fell/flopped over onto the couch. And it hurt. I didn't yell at Gideon, but I did tell him, angrily, to put his toy in the toy box and not to leave it in the middle of the floor. He obeyed in the absentminded way that he goes about everything and went back to play. I could tell he was thinking "There goes Mom, over-reacting again."
It was Gideon's reaction to my instruction that reminded me, suddenly, that I had watched this scene take place a million times over between me, my siblings, and our mother. We'd leave something on the floor, Mom would step on it and get mad, we'd pick up our thing and wonder why she was so bent out of shape about it. I understand now.
I thought the same thing yesterday when I discovered, after leaving the room for less than a minute, that Gideon had found a pencil, crawled up on a chair, and scribbled quite an impressive amount on our dining room wall. I found myself getting so upset! Didn't he know we were moving? Didn't he know how important it was that we get our huge renter's deposit back? Then I remembered writing on the bathroom wall with lipstick.
The fact that I actually remember this happening should clue you in to the fact that I was WAY too old to be writing on the bathroom wall with lipstick. I remember getting in big trouble for it. I remember watching as Mom tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to wash it off. I think eventually she ended up painting the whole bathroom. But once again I remember feeling like my mother's reaction was disproportionate to the crime. I hadn't done it to get attention or spite my mother. It hadn't even occurred to be that it wouldn't wash off, let alone that we'd need to ever wash it off. It simply seemed like a good idea at the time and I couldn't understand why she was so upset. Oh, I understand now.
Ah, the foolishness that is bound up I the heart of a child. I find myself being made constantly aware of how my thoughtless actions as a child caused my mother trouble and grief as Gideon does the same to me. I wasn't trying to, and I certainly didn't want to, it just seemed to happen! I know that Gideon will do the same thing to me over and over again.
So the next time Gideon does something as thoughtless as getting in the trash and crumpling egg shells all over the downstairs while I'm in the bathroom, I'll take a deep breath, say a prayer of thanks that I survived my childhood and turn that bit of gratefulness into grace for my child.