Summer jobs do a few things for my kids. Jobs get them out of the house. Jobs get them out of their comfort zone. Jobs get their eyes off of themselves. Jobs pad their bank account.
Our thirteen-year-old works with a goal in mind,
a white convertible Mini Cooper.
I’m very much looking forward to her achieving this goal. Sentenced for the last fifteen years to the confines of a large sports-utility vehicle, I can’t wait to borrow her car!
Still, she’s thirteen. Although she has put every single penny she’s earned in her account, she can’t help but want to spend a portion today. Not only do I get that, if she wants to spend some today, she should. Enter:
an iPod Touch 5g
This child loves her friends, is incredibly artsy, and doesn’t have a phone that can send photos. (Since she pays for her phone each month, she wisely chose the least expensive addition to our plan – which means limited everything.) The camera and app that would allow her to text photos has been calling her name all summer. I didn’t know this until yesterday.
“Mom…” she solemnly said to me as I was watching some boys swim, “when you have a moment, I need to talk to you. It’s serious.”
“Alright,” I reply. “I can listen and watch at the same time. I’m an excellent multi-tasker.” I deserved the eye-roll response dished my way.
“Seriously, Mom. I want to ask your advice.” (“your advice” – music to the ears of any parent!) She went on to tell me her predicament – wanting to save for a car, but really wanting to buy the super cool iTouch.
“Honey, I think whatever you do is great.” Then, here’s where I well-intentioned messed up, “You know, though, you & I have problems with losing things. It’s a lot of money. Are you sure you want to spend your money on something that is so easy to get lost?”
I know I could have said it better. I just wanted her to consider the fact that she’s creative and tends to set things down with the greatest intentions of remembering where she put them, probably thinking “I can put that away later.” Let’s just say, she has some issues (like her mama) that tend toward the flaky. When she gets that Mini Cooper, I’m pretty sure half her time will be trying to remember where she left the keys.
But since it was her mother, rather than hear my comment as it was intended – advice, she she heard me maligning her character. She heard, “you lose everything, you’re terrible at what you do, you don’t deserve an iPod.” None of which I think or believe at all. I love her. She’s amazing. Truly. I just hate to see her in agony – which she is every time she loses her phone and other things.
My comment was a blip, though. She defended herself. Told me the old, “I’m not going to lose it. Look my phone isn’t lost. (She shows me the phone.) In fact, I haven’t lost anything for a LONG time!” And on we went.
Sometimes I wish she could know how much I love her. I wish she could hear me. I wish she could rest in the fact that I know her. I know where she struggles. Often, I share my struggles with her so she can understand that no one is perfect. We all have our issues. Life works better being honest about them and letting them roll off our back. Why let them weigh us down? Big deal, so she loses stuff and procrastinates. Let’s call a spade a spade and work on it.
So, when I looked up from my morning coffee to see this:
one of the items she hasn’t lost in a “LONG time!”
I wondered how long she has been looking for that retainer. And I was reminded, it’s the hardest to hear things from those closest to you in life.
Then, as I so often am, I was compelled to consider how many times I defensively pull away from the One who knows me best. How often do I indignantly deny shortcomings and struggles, all the while feigning offense taken at such a suggestion. It’s seemingly easier to ignore… less painful to pretend. That way I can go my merry way, acting like I’ve got it all together. And I, too, search for my retainer that I didn’t lose.
Here’s hoping I’m open to constructive advice. Bring it on.
Ever grateful that God gently returns my retainer, like I will my daughter’s, with a loving wink and a commitment to walk the road together.