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Happy 2010! Here’s to feeling the love!

January 1, 2010

On New Year’s Eve, two families raced down the hill to downtown Flagstaff to see The Pine Cone drop at 10pm when it’s midnight in NYC; it goes again at midnight Flagstaff Time.

Since we arrived right about 10pm, the small boy missed most of the drop and wasn’t positioned well to see the fireworks so he wanted to stay. Determined, he stood in the street, watching watching waiting waiting. Our friends took their toddler and teenager back home. The Big Monkey grew impatient and left also.

The small boy stood in the emptying street, gazing up at the Pine Cone, willing it to drop. The digital clock below slowly ticked off the seconds. Snow was piled up along the edges of the street. A young man in a suit told his friends he was going to stand right there until midnight then, when they looked at him incredulously, he laughed and they shoved off toward a bar.

Two police officers stood on the corner. I told the small boy I was going to talk to them. He stood there still, gazing up at the colorful Pine Cone, its LED lights racing. I explained the situation to the officers, and requested they talk to the small boy. They followed me into the street, and bending down, the officer with a toddler at home tried to convince my son that it would be better to return where it was warm and there was lots of cookies than to stand in the street when the temperature was in the single digits.

No luck.

I thanked the officers and asked where a good place to get hot cocoa might be. They suggested that the Orpheum Club might let us in and give us a free cocoa considering the circumstances, or we could try the Hotel with the Pine Cone but The Best Hot Cocoa could be found at the Downtown Diner.

Leaving the middle of the street wasn’t easy.

In fact, as he cried quietly, I picked him up and carried him into the diner. I don’t know if there was a line or not, but I carried him to the only empty booth and put him down there. No one came for our order so I asked someone and almost immediately a hot steaming cup of cocoa was there piled high with whipped cream. I let the boy have some then moved it away and told him he could have the rest but only if he agreed to walk home with me without any more fuss. He agreed and sipped at the hot drink.

We talked and I tried to explain how long too long is and finally I convinced him we could put a lid on the cocoa and walk back.  Then I realized that all I had in the way of money was a credit card and some loose change in the bottom of my bag.

I explained the situation to the young woman at the cash register. Fortunately I had enough to cover the $2.25 cocoa–no tax–plus some coins for a tip. Unfortunately, pressing down on the lid, the boy knocked over the cocoa, spilling some of it; tears spilled too. They topped off the cup and out the door we went–with the boy slipping on the wet, icy ground, and dropping the cocoa, spilling even more. This injustice was too painful for the boy and he started crying.

The young woman at the counter gave us a new one for free saying, “I’m sorry to see someone having a more difficult night than me!”

I carried the cocoa the few blocks to their house. The boy walked backward much of the street, hoping to catch the Pine Cone Drop. The moon was bright and the night cold. We made it back to our friends safely, hot cocoa intact.The small boy sat at the table near the fire and finished his cocoa.

It might not have been the type of New Year’s Eve they talk about in romance novels or fairy tales. It certainly was NOT how I might have chosen for the evening to go. But for my son and I, our bond is even deeper now. He can trust me even more to listen to him and try to meet his needs. In not forcing him to leave, but by helping him to understand that we had to go for a number of reasons, I think I showed him I respect his feelings and his desire to experience the New Year’s Eve Pine Drop as we had promised. And by leaving without a battle, he showed me respect also.

I imagine this post might be controversial, that some may disagree with how I handled this. I am sure many people think I should have just showed him who was the boss and dragged him away, that I was too patient, that my son was disrespectful. In the big picture, however, we created a loving and special memory out of a disappointment. When I feel impatient, I dig deep into the well of love I have for him and find more patience.

As we walked home, me carrying the hot cocoa, he in varying states of sadness at leaving and excitement to be out in the full moon and the cold night air, I asked him, can you feel the love? He said yes. And that’s what matters to me more than any Pine Cone Drop, any Ball Drop, any anything–feeling the love.

Here’s to feeling the love in 2010–in families, in communities, in nations…even between species!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. joyce permalink
    January 1, 2010 6:08 pm

    Really, really beautiful, and I’m 100 percent with you on your handling of the situation.

  2. January 1, 2010 6:11 pm

    Thank you so much, Joyce. Raising our children well is the hardest job there is. Often it is difficult to know what to do–and sometimes you never know if you made the right choice. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  3. Sena permalink
    January 1, 2010 9:53 pm

    So sweet! I still wanted him to be able to come back to see the pine cone drop, but you led him so gently through the realities of the situation, and gave him a wonderfully special start to the new year.

  4. January 2, 2010 4:26 am

    Oh, Sena, I did too! But being out there by ourselves at midnight and zero degrees and then walking home and getting him to bed just seemed way too much…As it turned out, by the time he drank his cocoa and was ready for bed, the adults in the house wanted to watch the ball drop in NYC on a TV where he was to sleep. So he did get to watch that with his dad–I went outside on the deck and listened to the event downtown and watched the fireworks then enjoyed the moon a bit before coming in and writing this.

  5. Sara permalink
    January 6, 2010 1:40 am

    Really, beautifully handled.

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