Stress boiled over into a blow out with my husband and eventually I wound up on the back step reduced to a pile of tears with my head in my hands and a pit in my stomach. It was a typical "how did I get here" type of moment.
It was then, at my lowest point, when I heard the sliding glass door slide open and my 4-year-old tentatively asked, "Mom?".
I turned around, trying to hide the tears and my puffy eyes. I forced a crooked (fake) smile and realized he was walking down the stairs clutching an Elmo doll. He handed me the fuzzy red monster and said, "here, this is for you...I thought Elmo could feel you better." Then he quickly disappeared up the stairs and back inside. *sigh.
Moments later, the door reopened and Alex reappeared. He clamored down the stairs in his bare feet and said, "I forgot this." He then hugged and kissed me and just as quickly disappeared inside again.
These "visits" continued for the next 15 minutes or so. Each time he tip toed quietly down the stairs, he'd offer me a feel good token of some sort, study my face for the smile he was desperately trying to earn, then disappear.
On one visit, he brought me the music box from his bedroom to play music "to feel me better". Then, he brought me two books (from which I could choose) - What Firefighters Do and Clifford's Apple Picking Day - only to leave them both for me anyway. He brought me his favorite fuzzy blue snuggie, then thought I could use a pillow for my head. Finally he handed me a notepad/giant pencil so I could "write a letter or sumfin".
Each visit was sweeter than the last. My heart swelled. My tears eventually dried. My heartache all but faded. My smile turned from forced and fake, to genuine.
While I couldn't help but worry that a child his age shouldn't have to feel that way, see me cry, or be responsible for making me feel better...I couldn't help but marvel at his empathy. His loving care. Just when Alex drives me to the brink with his bad behavior and current tenuous stages, he reminds me that deep down, he really is a sweet kid. A caring, loving boy with a heart of gold and a kindness unmatched by many ten times his age. Thank you, Boo, for showing me the unconditional love of a darling child. Thank you for being MY precious boy.