Saturday, February 06, 2010

Broken dish, broken heart


When I was showing Andrew these photos of Christmas Eve the other day, his little eye immediately fixated upon that small Christmas-themed candy dish on the coffee table. And he got really really sad.

One night shortly after Christmas, before we had put any of the accoutrements away, Andrew (who takes after me in the crazy gene) became so enraged about something (I wish I could remember what) that he picked up that dish and slammed it back down on the table, breaking it. I like to handle such things by massaging their guilt muscle a bit. A child's guilty conscience is a mother's best asset. So I acted really sad. I quietly picked up the pieces and spoke softly about how special that candy dish had been. (This was actually sort of true. After all, how often do you find a really cute Crate & Barrel dish for $1 at a second-hand store? Even if you don't live the sort of life in which the dish would ever contain something besides tiny plastic star wars guns.)

Andrew wanted to see if we could glue it back together, but I honestly replied that we could not. He suggested that we could just buy a new one, and I honestly told him that it had been made several years ago and we would probably never see the same one for sale at a thrift store again. That was when he totally fell apart. He sobbed as if something living and beloved had just died. I decided he had faced the consequence of his actions enough, and now was time for a little measured perspective. But despite all my reassurances that it was only a dish, Andrew would not be comforted. "I loved that candy dish so much! It was my favorite! I am so so so sorry, Mom! So sorry!" More sobbing.

He seemed to calm down a bit after I got him in the tub and I thought the whole thing was behind us. Our nightly ritual is to put the boys in my bed in their little towels where they, after feeling sufficiently warmed up, jump around naked while I get their pjs and books ready. Then the boys get dressed and we settle in and read for a while. I left Andrew in my room while I went back to get Will out of the tub. I heard a sudden cry from my bedroom followed by loud sobbing. I rushed back in, sure that Andrew had suffered some sort of physical injury. But, of course, he was crying again because he had remembered that candy dish and was mourning it. His tiny heart was broken and he apologized continually. I think it might be the biggest regret of Andrew's little life.

And it makes me think of a quote I associate with General Conference:
"For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: 'It might have been!'"

Andrew, may all your regrets be as unreasonable and exaggerated as the one you still suffer for that broken candy dish.

7 comments:

Ie Li said...

My heart hurts for Andrew. What a sweet boy he is!

Momo Cannon said...

Andrew is a kind hearted child. Have Brigham tell him the story of the brass scale from Annandale days when Brigham was about the same age. Love you all, momo

Jenny said...

Alexandra, you are a great storyteller. And I think you handled the situation perfectly--I also take advantage of guilt to make a point with my son. I even resorted to tears a couple weeks ago (although I had just come home with the new baby so I can't pretend that I was totally in control of my emotions).

On an unrelated note, I have been hoping for a Salinger eulogy from you. I've been reading his Nine Stories for the first time and I'd love to talk with you about them!

Sarah said...

What a great post! You're a great mom, Alexandra! I was just thinking about you tonight as Benjamin was jumping around in his Spiderman jammies and pretending to fly through outerspace. And I thought about how you always play along with their little imaginations and make it so real. It's really fun to get little glimpses into your lives through your stories.

Michelle said...

you make me laugh so hard! why don't we hang out more? seriously! That is the sweetest thing that he was so sad about a candy dish! - (I do remember that dish, and i think it was a very cute one!)
oh - thanks for your sweet email the other day. I've been meaning to write you back - and um..haven't. :)

Mer Swift said...

Oh, that was so fun to read! What a sweet, sensitive boy. I love him. You let your boys jump around naked?! Spencer can't even keep them naked in a contained area. Kimball is constantly running around the house naked. And yesterday, he told me that Kimball needed to use the bathroom just as they were getting in the car to leave church. Instead of, "Just wait one second, Kimball, and we'll be home and you can use the potty there" he decided the church parking lot would do just fine. Spencer said at least he didn't pee on the car that was next to them.

lynne said...

so, so, so hilarious!!!!