“Mom, I don’t think I’ll need my books this weekend, dad and I are roughing it.” I lightly tossed my ten year old son’s hair surveying the piles neatly organized on his bedroom floor for his camping trip with his dad.
Tommy had been counting the days and marking them off the calendar for the last month and now the weekend to Lake Thunderbird was here. “Why don’t you take just one book to read by the campfire,” as I grabbed a copy of The Silver Chair and tossed it in one of his piles, “just in case.”
An hour later, Tommy was dragging his old army duffle bag to the front porch, it was his grandfather’s from WWII and he cherished it. He checked his watch for the umpteenth time and even though his dad would not be there for another 15 minutes, he didn’t want his dad waiting. Yep, 6:00 was the designated time.
Clearing the dinner dishes my thoughts went to Tommy and how happy I was for him to spend some really quality time with his dad. The divorce had been hard on everyone, but it was the hardest on Tommy. He missed his old house, his old friends, and his old school. His visits with his dad had been minimal and always with a promise to spend more time after each visit.
Drying the dishes from dinner, I noticed the clock-6:15, “hmmm.” I checked both my cell and home phones to see if there was any messages-¬¬nothing. I silently prayed that Tommy’s dad was caught by a train, or a flat tire, “please Lord, don’t let this little guy’s heart be disappointed.”
Tick, tick, tick, it was now my turn for the umpteenth time to check the clock on the wall. I pressed his dad’s number on my cell, still no answer. How could he forget, how could he possibly forget to pick up his son for such an important trip?
Tick, tick, tick, it was now seven o’clock. I slowly opened the door and sat down next to Tommy. “I’m sure something happened that he just can’t get a message to you. Perhaps he forgot to charge his cell.” Holding back the tears, Tommy knew, this wasn’t the first time his dad forgot.
We sat in silence for awhile. With a blank stare he slowly got up and dragged his army duffle bag into the house. His sadness was turning into anger and I could hear him unpacking and throwing things around in his room. Going toward his room I prayed for guidance, for words, for something to help his pain?
“Tommy, I know how hurt you feel…” “Forget it mom, just forget it!” “Tommy, look at me, I need you to do something.” I handed him a sheet of paper and pen. “Please?” “Sit at your desk and draw a line down the middle.” He shook his head but reluctantly sat down and drew the line.
“On the top of one side, write Pro’s and the other side write Con’s.” “Mom, come on.” “Tommy, do this for me. Whenever I find myself in a situation where I need to make a decision or I’ve been treated unfairly by someone, I do two things; I pray and I make this list.”
“On the pro side, write a list of everything about your dad that you love and everything he has done for you. On the con side, write all the things you don’t like and things that he hasn’t done for you.” It only took a second, picking up his pen he began with the con side. One..., two…, three…; a pause, four..., a pause again, five…, a long pause.
He slowly went to the pro side, still holding on to the hurt and anger he needed a little nudge, a little reminder. One…,a pause, two…, three…, four-a little smile, five…, six…, “oh yeah”-a laugh, seven…, eight…. I spoke softly, “looks like his pros outweighs his cons.”
The ringing of the doorbell startled us both. Tommy charged for the door and as he flung it open, there stood his dad. At that moment it didn’t matter why he was late but that he was there. Tommy ran into his room throwing everything into the duffle bag. He gave me a huge hug and in words that did not need to be spoken shoved his list in his pocket and ran off with his dad to Lake Thunderbird.
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