This is typically a wonderful thing. Simon gets extra rest, I have one less kid to worry about as I get Michael off to school, and everyone is happy. One particular Friday, I was struggling to get Michael's lunch packed and the baby fed and I didn't end up going downstairs to wake Simon up until after 8:00.
I knew something was wrong the moment I opened his door. "Good morning, buddy," I said.
"What's the matter?"
"I don't want to tell you," he said.
I sat on the edge of his bed and put a hand on his shoulder. "Are you sick?" "No." "Did you have a bad dream?" "No." Then he started to cry. Sob. "You forgot about me," he wailed. "I waited, and waited, and you never came."
All of my hugs, kisses, and assurances that I thought he was asleep and that I would never forget about him had little impact. I had let him down. Strike one.
A couple days later, Patience was napping, LH was visiting his mom, Michael was at school, and Simon was still at the table trying to finish his lunch. It was slow going for him, due to the elaborate daydreaming taking place in his mind. I needed to run to the neighbor's house to pick something up so I told Simon I would be right back. "Okay," he said.
At the neighbor's, I picked up what I needed and then got to chatting. Five minutes turned into ten, and when I finally got back to my house, I found Simon collapsed in a miserable heap on the couch.
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"I thought you left us forever," he sniffled. "I couldn't find you anywhere."
Apparently, he not only didn't remember that I told him I would be right back, but he also couldn't believe it had only been ten minutes. He was certain at least an hour had passed. Strike two.
A couple more days passed. Christmas Eve arrived. After the kids were in bed, I pulled out the goodies to fill up their stockings. Michael and Simon had green ones and Patience had a red one. I went to bed exhausted but happy, sure the kids would like the gifts we'd bought.
In the morning, Simon approached our makeshift mantle with anticipation, eyeing the stocking he believed was his. "I can't wait to open it," he exclaimed, poking at the stocking in which I had placed Michael's gifts.
"That one's not yours," I said, pointing at the other green stocking. "Yours is this one."
His little shoulders drooped. Disappointment descended upon him like the weight of the world. His eyes grew wide and his lip quivered. "But, this one was supposed to be mine."
"I'm sorry, buddy," I said. "Here, I'll switch them right now. It'll be fine."
It wasn't fine. "I told you a million times that I wanted this one," he said, heartbroken. "And you didn't listen."
There was nothing I could say. He had, in fact, told me that. Once. A couple weeks ago. In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I had forgotten. Swing and a miss - Steee-rike three! You're out!
Here's hoping 2017 is a year of success, forgiveness, and second chances. Happy New Year everyone!