Sometimes you manage to give your children just what they need emotionally. Other times, they return the favor without even trying.
On the way home from a late softball game, Benjamin and I stopped to grab food for all of us. We parked to go in rather than burning gas in the long drive-through line. Sitting in the backseat of my car, he heard his mom’s voice break a little when I used speakerphone to ask what she wanted.
“Why was mom crying when she said for you to decide?” he said.
“She is sad because she will miss her friends after we move, and thinking about what to order is the last thing on her mind.”
For the first time after the night we told him we were moving, he started crying.
“I’m gonna miss my friends,” he said, his voice trembling.
“You will be able to stay in touch with them,” I said.
“Video chat isn’t the same as hanging out in person.”
I turned to look at him and patted his knee. “You’re right. It isn’t.”
I weakly said, “I’m sorry,” more than once while he wiped his tears.
He sniffled. “Okay, I can go in now,” he said.
Benjamin struggled to keep from openly sobbing while we sat waiting for our number to be called.
“Will I be able to ride my bike to Charles’ house?” he said, asking about his cousin.
“No, we won’t be close enough to him for that.”
Fresh tears ran down his face and he made partially stifled crying sounds.
I was at a complete loss for words that would comfort him.
Within a couple minutes of getting back in the car, he said something to me with his mouth closed, and my answer made it obvious that I had badly misunderstood. He laughed out loud. The rest of the drive was a challenge for me to repeat back what he was saying while he chewed his food.
I won’t claim it was particularly clever or high-brow humor, but we laughed longer and harder than we had in weeks. He somehow kept his food in his mouth through all the laughs.
You can’t plan those moments in life.