Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tank Talk (P.S. I Love You)

There had been a great deal of dialogue with Gabe. Through the bathroom door.

“Gabriel, you okay?”

“Yes, Mom.”

“Do you need help?”

“No, Mom.”

“Call if you need me.”

Gabe had been in the bathroom. Quite a few times. For extended periods. But he insisted he was fine. Just a little tummy upset. In retrospect, I should’ve opened the door. But I’ve gained some wisdom as the mom of a boy brood. I don’t enter their bathroom unless I’m summoned.

We had company over for dinner, and Gabe’s tummy turbulence got better. In fact, I forgot all about it. Until the next day.

“Mama, can you help me in the bathroom?” Zay called. “I can’t snap my jeans.”

“Sure,” I said. A summons. “I can get that.” I opened the bathroom door and knelt down to help Isaiah. But when I did, I noticed something on the floor. Way back. Behind the tank.

Samuel’s Nintendo DS. And a pair of ear buds.

Then I remembered Gabe’s tummy business.

At first I was angry. Sam’s DS was off-limits. Then I was sad. Gabe had been dishonest. And sneaky. Ear-bud-sneaky. Then came a wave of compassion. All my friends have a DS, Mom. Nonetheless, the Gabester was in trouble.

I retrieved the game from behind the tank and pushed it deep into the closet, behind hand towels and boxes of soap. Then I went to the kitchen for a Post-It and black Sharpie. I wrote a note, to my son, in bold, kindergarten print:

Gabriel, Come see Mom.

I stuck the note behind the tank, where the game stash had been.

There would be a lot more talking with Gabe, and not through the bathroom door. We’d talk about character. About honesty. About a man’s word. About a consequence. But as I thought about all the things I’d talk about with my little son, I wanted to be sure he understood one thing…

So I went back to the kitchen, grabbed the Sharpie, and retrieved the note from behind the tank.

And I wrote, in the same bold print:

P.S. I love you.

This post is for Mary R., who always tells her boys that she loves them. I learn from watching you.


  1. One of the hardest things for kids to learn, is we discipline them because we love them. They won't understand it until they are parents themselves, but until then, all we can do is remind them. And SHOW them. : )

  2. I agree, Jenny. Sometimes it's just tough - the discipline thing. Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. Just like our Father, you discipline with love.

  4. Thanks, Peggy.:) You know, the thing I'm always struggling with is knowing what the appropriate discipline is...what's appropriate for sneaking brother's ds and hanging out in the bathroom while claiming a sick tum-tum? Wish I knew.Hmmmm. Grace, grace, grace in parenting!