” ‘I love you,’ I said to a spotless face. No milk mustache. Each strand of hair in its proper place. ‘I’ve signed your report card. It’s lying on the counter so you won’t forget it. I’m proud of all those A’s. Mrs. Harmon should be proud, too.’
I gave him an extra hug before he raced out and hopped on his red ten-speed. It glistened as much as his face that morning. ‘Your bike looks so clean. You must have worked hard to make it shine so much.’
He waved good-bye, his new blue jacket billowing behind him. He looked handsome. The gray in his plaid shirt perfectly highlighted the blue-gray of his twinkling eyes. He had even chosen the right pants. Gray cords with a blue and gray striped belt.
‘Yes, I do love that little guy,’ I said to myself as I turned to the morning clutter. Even his blue cereal bowl and plate were rinsed and stacked neatly in the dishwasher. So easy to love him when he’s doing things right.
That was yesterday. Today he wants to help me in the kitchen. He has on dirty football pants, the ones with a big rip in the knee, and the old yellow football jersey that I had hid in his bottom drawer. It has stretched so much it is several sizes too big, and besides, yellow makes him look jaundiced.
He volunteers to help unload the groceries. As he climbs onto the countertop–football pants and all–the flour falls off the shelf, shattering my glass coffeepot in a thousand pieces. The can of frozen orange juice, intended for the freezer, misses its mark and hits my foot instead.
‘Sorry, Mom. Didn’t mean to do it.’
I massage my little toe. ‘It hurts just as bad either way, you know.’ He doesn’t seem to know.
Dinner is next on the agenda. My volunteer hangs around, and I put him in charge of the spaghetti. The water begins to boil, but the noodles slide out of the wrong end of the box as he carries it to the stove. He heads for the broom again.
‘Out. Please. Out of the kitchen.’ His shoulders slump as he walks out the back door.
Then I think of the One who loves me when my face is dirty, hugs me when I’ve broken more than coffeepots, keeps His arms around me even when I’ve caused Him pain. I go to the picnic table where Nicky sits with his head down. I encircle him in my arms.
‘Honey, I love you.’ That was all I needed to say. His arms went around me and his dirty cheek rested against mine.
‘Lord, keep me giving him hugs, especially when I think he least deserves them. Because that’s what you do for me.’ ”
Source: Ruth Senter “Startled by Silence” (Daybreak Books-Zondervan)
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