First Choice of the Day

Immediately when I woke Shaya this morning, the tantrums began.

Whining, complaining, not wanting to go to school, I neeeeeeeeeed you, Mommy. 

My sweet boy. My lovely little man. I hate to see him hurting. I picked out clothes and placed them on his bed. I stroked his silk-soft hair and kissed his velvet cheek. I whispered in his ear that cottage cheese pancakes and turkey bacon were cooking in the kitchen.

I woke Asher and Eliana, and they turned out of bed with smiles, ready to face the day. Shaya buried his face in the pillow. The muffled whines still were not hidden.

I appreciate his sadness. I don’t take his emotion lightly. Still. I am trying to teach myself as well as my children that our moods are choices. Perhaps he is getting sick. Perhaps he simply didn’t want to go to school. Whatever the case, there is always a choice.

At some point, Dan went up, scooped his hands underneath the boy, and lifted him from the bed. Time to get going, he sang out in his cheerful way. Shaya’s mouth stayed down-turned in a pout as he pulled on clothes. My sweet boy. My precious little man.

He was the first in the kitchen and I tried to smother him with love and soft words, but he clung to his bad mood. I don’t want to go to school.

By the end of breakfast, it was full-on stomping and slamming doors. I insisted he brush his teeth, as well as I could with tenderness and love.

By the time we got to school, Asher and Eliana were sunnier than the cloud-filled sky, offering kisses at send-off. Shaya stayed in the backseat, a cocoon protecting him from emerging into the day.

I pushed my head into the car. I spoke soft words of the immense love I have for this child, this gift from above, as I told him he could take a deep breath and face the day and find beautiful things waiting just outside the car.

The fresh scent of rain on fallen leaves. The deep richness of fall colors on the trees, a progression of reds and greens and oranges and browns. The shiny faces of children just starting their day, strolling along the sidewalk to the school’s front door.

I knelt close and pulled him to me. He still smells sweet, hasn’t ascended to the precipice between childhood and teen. You can change the day right now, I said. You can choose to notice the beautiful things and have a good day.

Beautiful things like this child himself, even in unhappiness, one of my greatest gifts, one of the best reasons I get out of bed each morning.

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