It was after 3:00 on Sunday afternoon after a busier-than-usual weekend. Mr. Sunshine and I had spent Friday night, and part of Saturday celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary (thank you very much!). I had spent 4 hours volunteering with our church’s special needs respite ministry (LOVE me some fun with those kids and fellow volunteers!) on Saturday morning. Saturday evening, Sunshine Girl took a friend to the baseball game with us, followed by a sleepover. We all went to church Sunday morning (in two different vehicles because we were all going different directions at different times after church) where I volunteer in the Youth ministry (shout out to all my peeps!). After first service, Sunshine Girl and I took her friend home and returned to church for a meeting for a mission trip that both kids will be going on this summer. And let’s not forget that Sunshine Girl was leaving church with the Youth for a summer camp immediately following the mission trip meeting so we had to make sure she had packed her bags on Friday and brought them with her to church. Oh yeah, somewhere in there we were supposed to eat (Seriously, I kinda forgot to feed Sunshine Girl’s friend enough. I was obligated to apologize to her mom for returning her lighter than she was when she arrived.)
While Sunshine Boy and Sunshine Girl and I were all involved with the mission trip meeting and summer camp sendoff, Mr. Sunshine went home to finish never-ending repairs on this house that really is my little slice of paradise. When the meeting was over, and Sunshine Girl was delivered safely and with all accompanying bags to the Youth ministry folks, Sunshine Boy and I headed home about 2:30. I had plans to go out grocery shopping because there was no food in the house. Sunshine Boy said he had plans to work on a project he’s been working on for a week. Apparently those plans look like sprawling on the floor with the dogs the second you walk in the door. (We definitely have different approaches to tackling our To-Do’s.)
I was checking in with Mr. Sunshine to see if he needed me to pick up any Duct Tape or WD-40 while I was out grocery shopping, and getting my coupons and list together to head out the door. Sunshine Boy was sprawling on the floor. Still. Saying, “Mom, look at this.” And, “Mom, watch this.”
A neighbor walked up to the front door. I answered it while Sunshine Boy stayed sprawled on the floor. All 6 feet of him. Still.
The neighbor asked if either of my kids could come down and mow and trim her yard. She’s been working on getting it done, but migraines have prevented her from making any real progress. She offered to pay for the work. I told her that Sunshine Girl had just left for camp for several days but that Sunshine Boy was still here, and I stepped aside and turned toward Sunshine Boy, still sprawled on the floor, with a questioning look.
He didn’t respond, so I asked him if he was able to help our neighbor out with her yard today or was his project going to take too much time.
[Here’s where I have to put a little background into the story. My children are historically compliant. To me especially. They pretty much have always done what I have asked them without much complaint. That’s definitely a good thing. But as they get older, I’m encouraging them to make decisions independently of me, but with our beliefs, morals, and standards still intact. They have insight into their own lives that I don’t have now. They still tend to do whatever they believe I’m asking them to do, whether it’s the best decision or not. It’s a work in progress.]
So, Sunshine Boy says, “Sure, I can do the lawn.” While he’s still sprawled on the floor.
I left to do my grocery shopping, and on my way home as I passed the neighbor’s house, I noticed that Sunshine Boy was not out there mowing. Nor was he picking up the sticks in the yard (big oak trees drop a lot of limbs when tropical depressions come through, as one did this past Thursday). And it was clouding up and thundering, as it often does every day in summer in Florida.
When I got to the house, I was already getting mad picturing Sunshine Boy still sprawled on the floor, possibly asleep. Fortunately, he wasn’t .
I asked him why he hadn’t gone down to start mowing the neighbor’s yard yet, and he told me he had gone over to feed another neighbor’s cat (oh yeah, I forgot about the cat) and had eaten lunch (oh yeah, I forgot to feed people this weekend). While these were decent excuses, I informed him that he had agreed to do a job, and that his father (who had since left the house to go buy some Duct Tape or WD-40 or something) had mentioned he should do it while it’s dry, and that he was still lingering around the house. I told him that he needed to get his butt down there immediately and mow as much of the yard as he could until he saw lightning or heard thunder, then hightail it home. I was, how shall I say it? Not-so-nice.
So he did.
I unloaded the groceries and stepped out front to look down the street to see how much progress he was making. In that big yard. All alone. Building a 3′ tall pile of tree limbs on the driveway just to be able to begin mowing. And it was thundering. And he wasn’t coming home. He was defying me to finish the job he had promised to do.
So, I got my yard shoes on and grabbed the weed-eater from the shed and walked down there. And Mr. Sunshine came home and grabbed the blower and a tank of gas from the garage and came down and helped too. NOT to save him on this job. But because we want him to know we have his back and we support him for doing the right thing. Always.
Because this is a boy who sprawled on the floor and was disrespectful to another adult (neighbor) when she came to the door and he didn’t stand up and come to the door to talk to her. And this is a boy who didn’t do the work he agreed to do within the time frame we had strongly suggested he follow. This is a boy I have to constantly remind to do his chores.
But this is also a boy who is joining two missions this summer. This is a boy who keeps in touch by text with a teenage boy with special needs that he met last summer. This is a boy who friends any new young men visiting our youth services for the first time, taking them around and introducing them to his friends and making them feel welcome. This is a boy who just finished his first college class at 16 years old with an “A” and will be a full-time college student next year, before he turns 17. This is a boy who gets complimented by the general public for being polite and gracious and outgoing and friendly at his mall job. This is my boy. And I raised him. And that probably contributed to how he’s turning out. But I know without a shadow of doubt that I did not save him.