Saturday night, my house. Everyone else is asleep. I am gathering the Mother’s Day cards the kids made to place with my card and our gift for the morning.
I read through the cards. Riley’s is beautiful, with a flower that has fold-out petals, each containing a different wonderful attribute of Veronica’s. It is carefully drawn, a work of art, as it is every year.
Ryan’s cards usually aren’t quite so ornate. He has never cared for drawing, or art of any kind. The writing is usually messy and clipped. I open Ryan’s card, and a four-page story falls out. I look it over. The writing is impeccably neat. It is an essay about why Veronica is not only a great mom, but the best mom. After Veronica has read it, near tears, she will ask him how he came up with the idea. He will tell us that his resource-room teacher, who has worked miracles with him over the last two years, told him to write a persuasive essay.
I think he succeeded. But don’t take my word for it. Take Ryan’s:
Out of all the mothers in the world, mine is the best. She always says before bed that I’m the best boy in the whole world. She also uses up half her day to comfort us. Finally, on Sundays, she makes delicious dinner for the whole table. Mom is the best and if you don’t think that, well then get lost!
Before bed time, my OUTRAGEOUS mom always says out of all the little boys in the world, how did I get so lucky to get the very best one? I always say that I don’t know. She smiles and says thank you. She also loves me, though I made a lot of mistakes. I always apologize for those mistakes. She finally doesn’t give me a lot of punishments. These are some reasons why MY mom is the best. Oh, and THERE’S MORE!
My mom uses up half her day to comfort my sister and me. She takes my sister, Riley to do one of her favorite hobbies, playing girls soccer. She even takes her to road games, WOWEE! Do you know how long an average road game takes? FOUR TO SEVEN HOURS! YAH! Hunh! Deserves respect, right? Also, she takes me to a pack of professional hockey games. MY FAVORITE SPORT IS HOCKEY! Finally, she always changes her plans to make sure I don’t have to go anywhere like shopping every day of the weekend. I love my mom, and she’s better than YOUR mom!
My mom also takes four to seven hours some Sundays to make delicious dinner. Sometimes, it’s chicken, well, the chicken that’s crunchy that I really LOVE! Sometimes, it’s the chicken I used to like but not any more. Sometimes, it’s just a good dinner for our family. Any way, she just is a great mom.
She respects us every day of our lives, now it’s time we respect the BEST mom. We’ll make breakfast for her, give her thank yous, and many more. We love our mom, the mom who does every thing for us.
She lets us play all day. Makes me want to say Thanks Mom, YOU’RE THE BEST!
It is beautiful. It is persuasive. It is 100% Ryan. I can see how he follows “rules” to construct each proper paragraph: introduction, supporting sentences, conclusion. It’s how he can apply some black-and-white structure to the chaotic, many-shades-of-gray world of creative writing. I see his brutal honesty, thanking Veronica for making the chicken dinner he doesn’t really like anymore.
And I see something else. I see exactly how much of what we says and do around him reaches him, even if he doesn’t always show it. That realization is both comforting and painful. Veronica revels in his recall of their occasional bedtime ritual. We both recoil that he feels he needs to apologize for all his “mistakes” in a Mother’s Day card. We appreciate that he has at least heard us explain how we try to avoid making him do things — shopping — that he doesn’t like to do. We do this in an attempt to get him to understand that sometimes there is just no avoiding running errands or other activities necessary to keep our family functioning. We hope that we haven’t brow-beaten him into feeling like he is a bad person. We laugh at his sense of humor, and his trash-talking approach to proving Veronica is a better mom than your mom.
But mostly we just appreciate this moment, one of those wondrous occasions where Ryan shows us just how much of his world he is absorbing.
Are you persuaded?