Friday, October 15, 2010

just something i've been thinking about

When I was a teenager, my mom bought a brand new Jeep. Having only had it for a few weeks, I was driving the jeep to a ski resort with my boyfriend when I, going down a steep hill and around a corner, hit a patch of black ice. I overcorrected, but it didn't matter (because it was ice). I am so, so grateful that there weren't any cars on that road at that time. We ended up on the opposite side of the road, facing the direction from which we'd come, and the jeep was on its side -- the passenger side. Fortunately, we landed in a thick snow bank which seemed to sort of cushion the blow. We had to climb up and out the driver's side door to get out. I was dizzy.

We walked to the nearest house and explained what happened, I asked the woman if I could use her phone. I remember her house being warm and smelling good -- she was cooking something. This sweet woman welcomed us in, and as I was talking with Eric about how mad my mom would be, this woman said, "Oh, Honey, I'm sure she'll just be glad that you're alright!"

"Mom?"

"Yeah?"

"We haven't made it out of town yet. I hit some ice."

"Where's the jeep?"

"It's on the side of the road."

"WHAT DID YOU DO TO THE JEEP?!?!!"

"Um...we're fine. We didn't get hurt."

I gave her the address and she hung up on me.

She arrived with the tow truck, and she didn't say a word to me with her mouth; her eyes, however, were piercing, her lips pursed into a straight line.

"Mom, I'm sorry."

"You had better pray that there isn't anything wrong with the jeep," is all she said.

The tow truck cables set, the beloved jeep was pulled from the snow bank and the result was revealed: not a scratch.

My mom didn't talk to me for a while after that. When she did, I got plenty of reminders of . . . well, frankly, of what didn't (but could have!) happen with her Brand New Jeep.

****************
When my oldest daughter was four years old, we were at our neighbor's house for a party. Li'l ~j. was excited to have some red punch, but also loved to sit on the neighbor's Love Sac, which is an oversized bean bag used as a piece of furniture. I think that bean bag was one of my daughter's favorite places on the planet, it was so comfortable. At this party, however, I reminded her that she was not, under any circumstances, to sit on the bean bag with a drink.

Our neighbor even reminded her, "Sweetie, please listen to your mommy. You can have the drink in the kitchen and then sit on the bean bag."

You know what happened next.

Embarrassed and mentally calculating how I could afford to buy our neighbors a new bean bag, I began cleaning it up as best I could. It was a small stain, but it was still there.

It was clear that my daughter, now seeing why we had given her the direction about her drink, felt bad. She, too, was embarrassed. She apologized to my neighbor.

It was at this point that my neighbor did something I don't think I'll ever forget.

She walked up to my daughter, kneeled down in front of her so as to be at eye-level, and took both of my daughter's hands into her own. She looked into her eyes and asked, "What do you think I love more, you or that bean bag? Hm?"

Sheepishly, my daughter answered, "Me?"

"That's right," came the answer, "You are more important to me than a bean bag. I love you more than a bean bag."

And for years following, at random times my daughter would look at me and with a smile say, "Hey, Mom? La Yen loves me more than a bean bag."

11 comments:

soybeanlover said...

Which is why we all love La Yen. Thank you for the reminder of what our priorities need to be.

Ashlee @ I'm Topsy Turvy said...

Thank you for sharing. My mom is more like yours and I hope to be more like your neighbor!

Mrs. Organic said...

This made me cry. I need to get that first pattern out of me, it's something I know and believe (that people are more important than things), but boy is the reverse ever ingrained in me.

dalene said...

word.

(yeah. i know i totally stole that from you. i hope you love me more than a word.)

Queen Scarlett said...

Amen.

I was raised much this same way. Which is why... totally doesn't' bother me when they draw on the walls.

Now if my hubby would just chill. ;-)

I love that my daughters know... I don't care about stuff...I care about them.

Breaking patterns/traditions... for good.

ps. Love you and LaYen

La Yen said...

And I still do love her more than a bean bag.

Thanks.

Lara said...

Wow. This was such a poignant post! I do think we get caught up in money and how much things cost to fix, etc. and we forget our children's tender little feelings. Your post about your mom's jeep made me so sad for you!

It's a fine balance to teach our children a healthy respect for our possessions (so they aren't destructo-monsters who break everything around them) and to teach them that ultimately they are WAY more important than things.

I had a little accident with my mom's car when I was a teenager, and at first she freaked out at me, but she immediately apologized and hugged me and said that I was more important to her than the car. I'll always remember.

(visiting from MMB)

Dixie Mom said...

That is so sweet.
I hope I haven't scarred too many people with the things I've said.
People are more important then things.

Mamarazzi said...

really beautiful...makes ya think!

Hilary said...

I try and remind my kids that I get angry beccause of the cost or the inconvenience... but that I still love them more. USually through gritted teeth. :)

Charlotte said...

What a great lesson. I need to be better at this, I tend to mutter under my breath a lot when cleaning up messes.