Wednesday, April 23, 2008

And suddenly it didn't matter

I was sitting in the middle of our hallway last Friday, surrounded by wrapping paper and scissors and ribbon. We were about to leave for a surprise birthday party, and I was running late. I usually forget to wrap the present until we are about ready to leave, and then I get all stressed out because I can never get it to look right. I am far from the worlds best gift-wrapper.

Savannah wasn't helping matters. She ran in circles around me, grabbing the scissors and unwinding my ribbon. When she saw me stretching and pulling at the wrapping paper, trying to make it cover the entire box, she ran to the other side and began yanking on the paper. Did I mention I was already running low on wrapping paper? I had visions of her ripping the paper to shreds and leaving me carrying a completely unwrapped gift to the party. So I yelled.

Stop it! Don't touch that!

She stopped. She stuck her thumb in her mouth and crouched against the wall.

I kept wrapping, oblivious to what she was doing. Then I happened to look up.

And I saw her crushed little face.

Now, Savannah is very good at pulling her sad little puppy dog face, particularly when she is pouting about something. But this was not one of those times. She was so hurt. She was only trying to help. And she couldn't understand why I had yelled at her.

I was immediately contrite. It was only wrapping paper. Wrapping paper that in a few hours would be torn off and tossed aside. Nobody would care if it was perfect. No one would even notice.

I went to her and gave her a hug. Told her I was sorry. And then asked if she wanted to help me put tape on the gift. Instantly her eyes lit up, all hurt feelings forgotten. The perfectionist in me had to bite my lip when she plastered a long strand of tape right across the side, no where near the place it needed to be. Her little fingers twisted the tape and then tried to smooth another piece right on top.

And suddenly it didn't matter. Looking at her face, I saw how happy it made her to help. To be a part of what I was doing. Just to be with me. Making memories like much more important than trying to make things perfect.


Jennybug said...

Thanks for sharing this story, as a mother of 4 children I always seem to be running low on patience. I know that most of the time I am stressing on things that don't matter, like wrapping paper. I like your blog!!! Have a happy day!

Elena's Garden said...

Hi, I found your web page from Tirzah's. I love your posts. I can so identify now that my little girl is 18 months and wanting to help. I know children learn so much in helping and being included in your everyday tasks.