Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Happiness Is A Chicken Biscuit
He wakes up and crosses the hall into my room wearing a mischievous, knowing smile. It is mischievous because he is going to ask me for something; it is knowing because he trusts I will say yes. His request is simple. He has woken with a hankering for a Chick Fil A chicken biscuit. Will I go and get him one? Please? He even offers to pay for it with the last bit of his birthday money. He turned 12 a few weeks ago.
I look into his not-11-anymore eyes and see desperation mixed with dependence and, though I am perfectly comfortable right where I am at that very moment, I answer the only way my heart will let me as I take in that face: Yes. Yes I will leave my perch and drive to the nearest Chick Fil A and I will get you your heart's desire. It will cost me $4.15 and you will be happy.
I wish it were that easy all the time.
The price tag varies on my children’s happiness. A new iPhone, acne medication, mint chocolate chip ice cream, family movie night, a birthday party, a new bathing suit, summer camp, pita chips and hummus-- all range in price and yet have bought happiness at different times in our house. But sometimes there is no price tag at all. A broken heart, hurt feelings, rejection, uncertainty, a careless, unkind word finding its mark-- these can't be remedied, save for the balm of soothing words, nearness, listening, promising that time does heal and this too really shall pass.
The waiting costs me more than I ever knew it could.
When they were born I walked the floor and whispered promises into their tiny, seashell ears. Promises to protect and provide. Promises to always, always be there. I meant those promises with all of my fierce, naïve heart. I believed I could protect them from all harm and provide them every happiness. I did not realize that they would not always stay where I put them. That I would not always be the gatekeeper of their lives-- that circumstances and people would slip past me and there was just no way I could always, always be there. I would have to let go. I would have to trust.
Later, he walks by me, the biscuit gone, a smile on his face. "Thanks, Mom," he says.
"Are you happy?" I ask impulsively, the question surprising us both. It is not something I ask very often. It is possible I have grown afraid of the answer.
He nods, gives me another grin, and saunters away. I watch his back, retreating. The leaving is something I have grown accustomed to over time, a grudging acceptance of the process of growing up. But just for a moment I am that young, new mother all over again, believing with all her heart that happiness is a chicken biscuit; that it could possibly be that simple.