May 15, 2014 4:32 pm A Little Miracle
“Come on Quinn, let’s get the show on the road. Eat something. No more just staring at your broccoli.” Carrie Griffiths was clearly out of patience with her son.
Dod Griffiths came over to Quinn and patted his dark curls. “Quinnie, have a little nibble. It is bath time and you’ve barely eaten.”
“I am not hungry tonight. I’ll just get in the tub now.”
“Quinn, have you been snacking?” Carrie asked. “Sometimes I wonder why I go to the trouble to make good food.”
“I didn’t have a snack. I’m sleepy. I just want my bath.”
Carrie coldly removed Quinn’s plate. “Let’s get this over with.”
Quinn put his napkin down and left to go upstairs. Derian, Quinn’s baby brother was asleep.
“Remember, be quiet, Quinn. The baby is sleeping! We don’t want him to wake up.”
Quinn did as he was told. His father ran the bath and put his little boy in it.
“This feels good,” Quinn said sweetly.
“Try to not get any water on the floor, okay. Mommy really doesn’t like that at all.”
Carrie appeared, holding a blue and white striped towel. “Bath time is over.”
“I just got in. Please can’t I stay in a little longer, Mommy?”
“All that dawdling at dinner used up your bath minutes. It’s bedtime. Out now.”
Quinn knew his mother wasn’t kidding. She was never kidding. He was dried off very quickly, his warm bath becoming a vague memory.
“One book tonight, Quinn. I’ll choose it.” In minutes the lights were out.
His little yellow duck nightlight kept him company. He wished his mother were more fun and nicer. He thought of how Billy’s mother always hugged him too, when she picked Billy up from their house. He thought of Daisy’s mother, who always had treats when she picked Daisy up from school. “Maybe if I were better, Mommy would be too. I wish I had eaten my broccoli. I will be quicker at breakfast.”
Derian made a little sound and Quinn heard his mother and father coming upstairs.
“As soon as I start something, I have to stop.” Carrie sounded exhausted.
Dod spoke softly. “Let me do this, Carrie. You go and finish your emails.”
“I can do them later. Try not to direct me, Dod.”
“Okay, I’ll be downstairs.”
“Great, perfect. Leave me with all the work.”
Dod turned back. They realized the baby was still asleep. Dod put his arm around Carrie but she shrugged it off.
Dod peeked in at Quinn who pretended to be asleep. He pulled up Quinn’s covers, kissed his head and gently left.
Quinn felt sad for his father. He knew Daddy would be happier too, if Mommy were nicer. His last thought before falling asleep was that he would try to be better tomorrow.
Quinn woke up happy. He got up and dressed for school. He was in the kitchen, helping himself to cereal when his father walked in smiling.
“Wow, how great, Quinnie. You’ll make Mommy happy.”
“I hope so Daddy. I really want to.”
Dod put coffee beans in the red grinder and then started the coffee. He helped Quinn clean up a little milk spill. Dod could sense what Quinn was hoping for.
Carrie came into the kitchen. “Really am I only one who cleans up around here? Shoes everywhere. Dirty clothes in piles. Sometimes I wonder…”
“Hi Mommy. I’m ready to go to school right on time today. I remembered a story for Tobey and Liz to read and put it in my bag.”
“Good. Keep it up. Try not to make it just a one day thing, okay?”
Dod handed Carrie a cup of coffee but she shook her head. “I’ll get it when I want it.”
Quinn again felt sad for his father. “I like your shirt, Mommy. Is it new?”
“I’ve had it for years. It’s old actually. Be careful not to spill your juice! It’s too near the edge. ”
Dod reached over and moved Quinn’s glass back on the counter. “Carrie, he’s just four. You’ve got to lighten up a little.”
“Okay, Mr. Nicey Nice,” Carrie answered. “You don’t have to deal with him all day.”
Quinn picked up his school bag and stood by the door.
“Quinn, don’t rush me. I have to get Derian up. It’s not time yet anyway. Find something to do. Don’t just stand at the door.” She went back upstairs.
Quinn sat on the bottom step feeling sad. “It’s not working. I can’t make things better.”
Carrie came back down, carrying Derian. “Quinn, you’re in my way. Off the stairs.”
“Carrie, I can take Quinn to school today. I’ll take the later train.”
“Mr. Mom, once a month?”
“Not at all. I’m trying to pitch in. Anyway, he’s ready. Come on, Quinnie.”
In the car, Quinn opened up. “I love my friends and teachers. It is sunny out. I feel happy because you are driving. Mommy never smiles. I wish I could be so good that she’d be happy with me.”
Pulling into the school parking lot, they saw Billy and his mother holding hands. “Billy’s mother’s nice, Daddy. She hugs a lot.”
“Quinnie, you’re a great little boy. Mommy and I love you very much. I know Mommy can be crabby right now but she still loves you.” His heart ached for his little boy.
“Does she love you, too, Daddy?”
“Yes. I’m not quite sure what is upsetting her. We’ll figure out ways to cheer her up. It has nothing to do with you. She might be very tired. She might wish she could still design houses. This is not your fault. You’re the best little boy.”
In the classroom, they hugged goodbye and Quinn went into the block area with Billy.
Back in the car, Dod called his wife. She answered in an annoyed tone. “What? Did he forget something? If you had let me…”
“I’ve been thinking, Carrie. We should hire a babysitter a few mornings a week. Grace, the Johnson’s babysitter has free time. She needs the work, and you can use a break. Then you could still work on designing or do anything you’d like.”
Dead silence. “Carrie, are you there?”
Still not a peep. “Carrie?”
“I like it. Let’s talk about it. Thank you.”
Dod realized that for first time in months his wife’s voice sounded normal rather than annoyed. He was as happy as he knew Quinn would be. Instead of going right to the station, Dod decided to stop at home and talk about this plan right now. He was stunned when he opened the door and heard Carrie whistling.
“Dod, you’re right. I do need some time to do other things. I have been so horrible and mean and just awful. I know it. Quinn deserves more patience and happy times. He has been so good about my dreariness and so have you. A babysitter is exactly what I need. I haven’t been able to stand myself. I don’t want to be short tempered and critical all the time.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t think of it earlier,” Dod replied. “I should have realized you needed a break.” He looked at his watch. “I’ve got to get going. Let’s have a cookout tonight. I’ll pick up burgers on the way home. And we’ll call Grace.”
Everything changed for Carrie. Even the thought of a babysitter made her feel less anxious and more relaxed. When she picked Quinn up from school that afternoon, she brought a snack and hugged him the second she saw him. It felt like magic. Quinn buckled himself into his car seat smiling happily.
“I love you Quinn. I’m sorry I’ve been so crabby.”
“I love you too, Mommy. Mommy, I’m so glad you’re happy again!”
Children often feel a parent’s negativity is their fault. The worry can weigh heavily on little hearts and minds. They try to do all they can to cheer things up. Carrie’s unhappiness was ruining Quinn’s life. Luckily, his father felt his little boy’s sadness as well as his wife’s, then cared enough to come up with a perfect solution.
Written by: Anne Martine Cook, Managing Partner & Mom, with 35+ years experience teaching nursery school children.
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