Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Prayer for the Mom of a Forgetful Child

Dear Lord:

I stand humbly before you - though it may be a little hard to see me among the clutter in my child's room - to ask a favor. You see, my child is forgetful. No, let me rephrase that. My child has elevated absent-mindedness to an art. He can look at a list of five homework assignments in class and come home with nothing in his backpack but an old permission slip, a granola bar wrapper and a GoGo toy. He has yet to see a winter soften to spring with a matching set of gloves to show for it.

And yet he is your beautiful creation, and in your wisdom you made him this way and (for reasons yet unexplained) chose me to be his mother. So I'd like to ask you for a few extra tools for my parenting kit to help me with the job. Here goes:

Grant me the eye of a decorator to appreciate the wabi-sabi - you know, that whole "imperfection is beautiful" stuff - of a floor strewn with pajama pants, random socks and a Clone Wars comforter. Instead of thinking, "Why can't he remember to put his stuff in the dresser or hamper?", let me exclaim, "He's the Jackson Pollock of bedrooms!"

Give me the fortitude not to flinch or faint when I open my child's lunch box on Sunday night and find the sticky, rotting clump that was an orange on Friday before he tasted it, found it too stringy and spat it back into the bag to remain through the weekend.

Grant me the patience not to jump to conclusions. When I see a pungently full toilet bowl and a wet seat, it may indeed, as my child insists, be the work of an ill-mannered phantom pee-er who drops by to use the facilities without lifting the seat or flushing afterward.

Give me the clarity to understand that my child's forgetfulness is not a weapon. He didn't get up this morning thinking, "I bet if I leave my hat at school on the coldest day of the year, I can get Mom to really freak out!" Then again, he does get a kick out of seeing my eyelid twitch...

Bless me with the strength to resist the temptation to "fix" every problem that results from my child's absent-minded ways. How will he ever learn to double-check for his school supplies if I'm always running back at 10 AM to deliver a forgotten recorder or pencil case? More to the point, how will I ever finish a hot cup of coffee?

Grant me the humility to accept my own failings in this area. It's hardly fair to criticize a child for forgetting a simple task when you've been carrying around an unreturned rental DVD in your purse all day.

Infuse me with the insight to understand that when my child sighs, "Here comes the lecture," it means "You've become the Lecturing Mom you always swore you'd never be." Then nudge me to be grateful for a husband who can come up with brilliant solutions like a supply checklist notebook and a Gryffindor House points system.

Give me the wisdom to remind myself that forgetfulness can actually be a sign of intelligence and creativity. The "absent-minded professor" is a well-known stereotype because it has the ring of truth. "Absent-minded burger flipper," not so much. When he's accepting his Nobel Prize, I'll gladly overlook the fact that he's not wearing socks.

Most of all, when I'm at my most exasperated, please help me see that my child's mind may not be fixed on the mundane matters we grownups harp on so often because so many other thoughts - far more fascinating ones - are running through it. Such as plans for a birthday four months away. Or new LEGO-based inventions. Or "Mom, did you ever get the sense that, even if red is your absolute favorite color, every painting still needs a little bit of green in it?"

That should about do it, Lord. Thanks in advance for the help - and for blessing me with my brilliant forgetful offspring. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to clean the bathroom. The sloppy phantom's been here.


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