There are a lot of moments in life where we’re faced with a barely-conscious decision. We’re tired and saturated with the world, and what’s happening isn’t that big of a deal, but there’s an opportunity to punch through all of that and create a wonderful moment. And the more we do those, the easier they are to see and do.
This week’s my youngest (5yo) son’s first week of full-day summer camp. His older brother’s attending as well, but in an older class. When LittlestGuy came home on Monday, he was bouncy and happy, until he realized that the sticker with his name on it (and Mommy’s name blacked out due to a clerical error), the one he had decorated with coloured pencils at camp, had come off AND had a tear starting. As he started to melt down, it got accidentally crumpled up and that made things, as you’d expect, far worse.
On top of having hit his limit with newsness, and being tired, he takes great pride in his art. I can often get him to pull himself away from screens by asking the simple question, “Hey, do you want to do some crafts?” He’ll arrive like Barry Allen (Flash). The great day at camp had suddenly turned into The Worst Day Ever. I tried talking to him, but ultimately, he was upset that Mommy wouldn’t get to see it how it was supposed to be when she came home from work.
I listened, tried to make him feel better, told him they would have more stickers there, worked at distracting him, and we made it through to bed time. But when he got up in the morning, after breakfast was done and I said they needed to get ready for camp, his eyes went wide. He was certain they wouldn’t have more stickers (and it later would turn out he was right). Rather than just telling him to suck it up, I looked at the clock (we had 10 minutes until we had to leave) and I came up with a creative idea.
We got the crumpled up sticker, laid it flat, and I took a picture. Then I edited it in a really basic photo app, then printed it on photo paper and cut it down. Using some duct-tape, I put on his chest. He wasn’t certain about it, but he held it together. When we arrived at the camp, he asked for a new sticker and they revealed, to my surprise, that they didn’t have any more. The counsellors, told my Littlest Guy how much they loved his. He proposed that I go to Staples and buy a pack of the stickers, but knowing that nothing could ever replace the original one (I’ve learned something over the years), I told him to try this one out for the day.
When I picked him up at the end of the day, he said that some kid wasn’t going to invite him to the kid’s birthday because my son didn’t have a proper name sticker. Though I talked with him about the kid being jealous, he listened and accepted it after Mommy talked to him. The next morning, Daddy made a new and more amazing one. Well, he was impressed and willing to wear it. Even that kid who bugged him the day before said how cool it was. Even his big brother (7yo) was impressed and a bit jealous. So today, I created one for each of them.
And I made another one, a variant of Littlest Guy’s for his best friend at camp (who isn’t the kid I mentioned). So now, there’s two Bat-boys in one class and a Flash in another. Thank goodness there’s only one day left of this camp, because otherwise I’m going to run out of their favorite super heroes. I’m certain tomorrow’s either Superman or Spider-Man day.
The best part was my Little Guy realizing that what started as a sad thing had the opportunity to turn into a wonderful opportunity. His Big Bro got to see that there was a moment to make a difference, despite knowing that I had a million things on my mind. And me? Well, I learned that sometimes it just takes a moment to breathe in order to change someone’s world.