Pulling the door closed behind her, Rosie entered the house. Never so glad to see the workday come to an end, she could feel the tension flowing from her body. The house was noticeably quiet, and wondering what was up she listened for the carefree voices of her children, but only heard the ticking of the Grandfather clock as she passed it in the hallway.
Halfway up the stairs she met eight year old Jordan coming down. “Hi, Jordan. Where are your sisters? What’s going on?”
Slowly the young boy looked up at his mother, his brow creased with confusion, and said “Something’s wrong with Gracie. She won’t come out of her room.”
Concerned, Rosie made her way to the bedroom door. At Gracie’s muffled assent, Rosie entered the room and saw her eldest child sitting on the floor, hugging her knees to her body. Emily sat next to her, rubbing her back and offering comfort, but the look on her face was one of helplessness.
“Mom, she won’t say anything, she just keeps sobbing!”
“I see. How about you go help Jordan with his homework now and I’ll sit with Gracie”. Emily slowly got up from the floor. As she walked out the door Rosie squeezed her hand and gave her a quick smile of appreciation. Taking Emily’s place on the floor, her arms went around Gracie in a gentle comforting hug.
Within a few minutes Gracie lifted her head and said, “Mom, it was awful! I’ll never be able to look him in the face again!”
Rosie waited patiently, knowing there was more to come.
Taking a deep breath, Gracie leaned back, exhaled and wiped the dampness from her face. “ I tried so hard to make a good impression. Tom is the cutest and nicest guy in my class! I couldn’t believe it when we got put in the same research group.”
Recalling the past 2 weeks, Rosie nodded as thoughts of Gracie’s excitement and hard work on this project came back to her.
“Today was the day we had to make our presentation. Tom did his part first and he did a great job, but when I opened up my folder, all I had was Jordan’s spelling list. I must have picked up the wrong folder from the table last night. I tried to remember the information and give my report anyway, but I got everything mixed up! Now we’re both getting a bad grade and Tom will never want anything to do with me!” she sobbed.
“Oh, Gracie, how terrible for you. I know you really did work hard. Tom must be very upset about getting a bad grade but if he is the nicest boy in class maybe he will understand if you just explain.”
“I don’t know, Mom, that would be pretty hard. And even if he does, I still won’t be able to look at him without wanting to fall through the floor.”
Continuing to listen and encourage when the opportunity arose, Rosie’s thoughts went back to her own 13 th year and realized words of comfort would not be enough. She quickly prayed for a way to give her daughter some focus and direction.
“Sweetie, I’m so sorry this happened and I know you must feel horrible, but I’m very glad that you have only been embarrassed. You didn’t mean to let Tom down, but sometimes things happen that we can’t do anything about. It happens to all of us at one time or another. If you had not been able to give your report because you had neglected to do the work or had no regard for your responsibility to Tom, that would have been shameful. I’m so glad that you are the kind of girl who understands the importance of not letting others down. It happened this time, but it was an honest mistake. Maybe Mr. Smart will even let you have another opportunity to give your report if you talk to him about it, but whether he does or doesn’t, there will be other reports and I’m sure things will turn out better.”
Quieting, Gracie listened closely to her mother’s words and knew they were true. Though she was still shaken, she could feel the tension flowing from her body and hope building within her. Maybe some day she would actually be able to talk to Tom without feeling miserable. Like Mom said, he is the nicest boy in the class, isn’t he?
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