Yesterday afternoon, Chase marched into my office right after school with some urgent news.Mom! I need to make a kite for my project on Afghanistan! Great! Dad can help you. When is it due? Tomorrow.
And therein lay the problem du jour.
When it comes to homework assistance, the invisible hand has long been in charge at our house. I do written projects, spelling tests, any projects involving colored pencils and old math. Dave does science, social studies (especially geography), any projects that involve engineering, and new math.
Kite building clearly belonged in the “project/ engineering” category. And Dave was, shall we say, not available to assist his youngest son last night. In fact, he wasn’t even available for a consult having taken to bed with what appears to be the worst illness I have ever seen him suffer.(As a short aside, nothing tests the mettle of a marriage like a nasty stomach virus. You want to be helpful but after the first 24 hours, the sight and smell of your affected spouse is enough to make you want to throw on a hazmat suit to bring him some toast and Gatorade.)
So, it was me, the boy, and his yet-to-be-made kite. I was worried.
First, I had really no idea how to create the vision that Chase had eagerly drafted on several sheets of paper. Second, I was fairly certain this project was going to take longer than an evening. I was already exhausted and it was only 5:00 p.m. And third, and MOST important, I didn’t want to get into a smack down with my 11 year old.
In variably, whenever Dave and Chase work together on a project, someone ends up in tears. Often it is me. The yelling begins early on. Dave suggests an approach. Chase waves him off and proceeds to do it his way, at which point Dave quits. Chase cries. I try to make peace but by that time they are locked in a death spiral headed nowhere. It is an awesome way to spend an evening.
I decided to face the enemy head on, preempting any power struggles.Chasey, you know Mom is not crafty, right? Right! (someone needs to teach this kid the art of hesitation) So, I am on my own and I need YOUR help. Together I think we can make this kite but we will have to figure it out together, OK? Got it.
And so we did. We went to Michael’s where we walked among the crafty people, selecting wood and tissue paper. I let Chase make all the decisions, insisting only that we buy extra materials in the likely event we screw this puppy up the first time. We arrived home and set to work, slowly and deliberately, testing each idea before we taped or glued. With every successful step, we garnered more energy, impressed with ourselves and our ability to DO THIS without Dad. It wasn’t perfect. I accidently glued myself to the garage floor, but it was good for a laugh and I was able to work myself free.
As we neared the completion of the project, I couldn’t contain my pride:So bud, we did a pretty darn good job on this kite don’t you think?
Chase smiled. He was obviously pleased. As he worked on the finishing touches he turned and said:You know what Mom? I bet if I was doing this with Dad we would be fighting right now.
After a really tough week, I was fairly certain that kite was going to be the straw that broke my back. Instead, it slid underneath me and held me up, carrying me through the evening. At some point, I think I felt that invisible hand patting me on the shoulder.
The Universe doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle – and sometimes it serves up exactly what you need.