Monday, March 7, 2011

Momma, you drive me . . .

My wife, being in a wonderful mood, danced her way into a room where my son and I were sitting watching television, and in an effort to entertain us, she began serenading us in a loud and somewhat sarcastically opera-style singing voice. We allowed this to continue for a minute without interruption before my son finally responded to this “intrusion” of his regularly scheduled programming with the following comment, “Momma, you’re driving me . . . “ I am certain his plan was to tell his mother she was driving him crazy, but as we all know, that would not be the wisest choice of words to utter, even if they are true.

Now, you’ll notice he showed some wisdom and did not finish his comment. He stormed into that sentence with a lot of confidence, but as he worked his way through the actual words, he quickly trailed off until he was quiet. The room was silent and you could tell by the look on his face that he had realized what he was saying and who he was saying it to. My wife and I just stood, staring in silence, watching closely for what would happen next. You could almost see him thinking through his next move carefully. He was probably already concerned that he had gone too far, but by our lack of immediate response, he must have figured there was a small window of opportunity to recover from this near blunder and his mind started strategizing.

This moment seemed to stretch on as his mind searched for a word or sentence he could insert into his wayward bound comment that could potentially save the day. After a few seconds of searching, stumbling over unintelligible words and coming up empty, he went to his go-to, feel-good comment, “I love you Mommy!” Now, play that phrase through your mind in the voice of a 4 year old boy, while he adds a little extra sugar in an effort to play up his cuteness. After a momentary pause, my wife and I could do nothing except burst into laughter. The sense of relief that spread over my son’s face when we started laughing showed he understood he had dodged a bullet. He understood he found the right words at the right time and it was clear he also understood he had almost stumbled upon the absolute wrong words at the wrong time.

His re-evaluation of his commentary gave me a sense of pride. Obviously I am not proud he was about to tell his momma she drives him crazy. I was proud in that at only 4 years old, he is already assessing the value and impact of his words. Ideally, he would have done this assessment prior to the words leaving his mouth. To his credit, he trailed off before his tongue landed on the key word, “crazy” (and probably the word that would have landed him in the most trouble). Now, the challenge is for me to apply this lesson learned to my own life the next time my wife is driving me . . .

“I love you!” Maybe that will save the day if I say it in a cute voice.

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