Wednesday was a bad day. Yikealo has been a bit sick with croup again, and the breathing treatments required to loosen his horrid cough have the unfortunate effect of making him crazy, out-of-control hyper. He completely loses any ability to focus or listen to anything that I say, and let's just say that I don't deal well with that. Add in the fact that we took a great little family getaway to Niagara Falls last weekend (another story for another post) that left us a few lessons behind in our school plans, and along with my control-freak, we-must-catch-up personality, we had a bit of a mess on our hands.
I held things together rather well, I must say, through the first half of the day, in the midst of some truly horrendous, uncharacteristic behavior from the boy. We had done all of our lessons but one, and by late afternoon, the majority of the hyperactivity had worn off. Okay...time to tackle the history lesson. We've been studying the various continents, with the last month or so being centered around Europe, and this was the final review. Yikealo has virtually no interest in the subject, and after 8 lessons on Europe, still cannot consistently name which continent we've been discussing. Now, I do feel that it's a bit lofty to think that a Kindergarten student should be able to place 8 different European countries on a map, along with naming them, recognizing several major landmarks in each one, and knowing what the flag for each country looks like. Seriously? Before starting this unit with him, I couldn't have done that...certainly not the flag recognition...and I'm 36! Why is this necessary for a 5 year old? On the other hand, considering that we've talked about it on at least 12 different days, shouldn't he be able to say the word "Spain?" Keep in mind that we're talking about an extremely bright child who is considerably ahead of his age group in both reading and math skills. He has memorized a couple of chapters in the Bible, and he can quote verbatim almost the entire soundtrack from the Broadway production of Lion King. This is what Wednesday's lesson sounded like, however:
Me: "Yikealo, this is the map of the continent of Europe. Can you show me where Spain is on the map of Europe?" (He points to the correct place.) "Great job! Now, what is the name of this country?" (I point to Spain again.)
Y: (blank stare) "Uhhhhh....I don't know."
Me: "It's called Spain. I want you to point to it and say, 'This is Spain.'"
Y: "This is Spain."
Me: "Good job! Now, what is it called again?"
After about 15 minutes of this, I decided that we both needed a break. We'd come back to it after supper, and surely things would be better, right? An hour later, after supper, we tackled it again. It didn't go any more smoothly than it had earlier, and after about 45 minutes, I completely lost my temper. "WHY AREN'T YOU GETTING THIS? I'VE JUST TOLD YOU THE ANSWER! THIS IS NOT DIFFICULT, AND YOU ARE A SMART KID!" That didn't help at all, of course. Yikealo dissolved into tears, and I stomped away from the kitchen for a few seconds. Immediately, verses like "Love is patient, love is kind...love never fails" started running through my head, and I went back to grudgingly apologize for yelling. Yikealo snuggled up against me, wiped his tears away, and asked in a small voice, "Mama, is it your turn to lay down with me tonight?" My voice still hardened in slowly subsiding anger, I asked, "Why? Do you want it to be?" I was positive that he'd say, "No...I want it to be Daddy's turn." Instead, he wrapped his arms tighter around me, and replied, "Yeah, because I just need some time with you."
I started sobbing, and he just held on tightly and whispered, "I love you, Mama." Oh my...I had just behaved so badly, screaming like a banshee , taking out my frustration in a harsh, completely inappropriate way, and Yikealo just wanted to be with me. I can't possibly live up to or deserve that kind of unconditional, surrendered love. But then, that's the thing about love, isn't it? We don't ever deserve it, do we? Certainly not the love that God gives...it is always a freely given, completely undeserved gift. It reaches inside of our cold, angry, dead hearts and changes us, transforming not only our lives, but the lives of the people around us. I stammered out another apology (a real one this time) and asked for forgiveness. Y leaned back, looked at my red, swollen eyes, and replied, "Of course I forgive you."
Later that night, as he snuggled up against me in bed, he whispered, "Mama, you're just the prettiest girl in the whole world. I just love you so much." I said that I loved him too. He smiled, closed his eyes, and said, "Now sleep tight, my Hunkin-Pun," as he patted my back. (I have sometimes called him my "Punkin-Hon", and now he often refers to us as his "Hunkin-Puns.") When I carried him over to his own bed and tucked him in, he whispered again, "I sure do love you." I spent some extra time just praying over him, thanking God for the enormous blessing that He gave us when He placed this child in our lives. We have learned so many life-lessons just through watching the way that Y loves and forgives, and I need those lessons so badly. Learning patience doesn't come easy for me, but I know that it is worth it!