A Simple Picture

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Typically when you look at a story, be it in a newspaper, a magazine or online, the first thing that catches your eye is the photo. If it’s engaging we will slowly look, examine the photo, mentally storing it in our mind. However, if it’s dull, we might just give it a mere glance. I wonder what your reaction was when you saw the photo that was attached to this blog post? Was it so obscure and unusual that it drew you in and made you curious? Or was it so uninteresting that you just skipped over it and started reading? My guess is the latter.

The picture is pretty unassuming – nothing all that interesting in content, no intriguing composition, poor exposure and no artistic editing. Just a “snap” of two rocks and a dandelion. But to me, the one who took it, it represents my son’s heart.

The picture shows a peace offering given to me by my son. I really don’t know how it all started, which I guess is probably true of most conflicts between children and siblings and/or parents. Something happened, I intervened in a way which my son obviously thought was stupid, and I was then rewarded with sulking and the bad attitude of an almost nine year old. Now, since this happened during lesson time, this sulking turned into uncooperative behavior. Like most foolish parents when their child is in a snit, I did try to reason with him. But since my son’s reasoning skills had seemingly flown the coop (as all children’s do during a snit) that didn’t work very well.

I then followed the traditional path of doling out a punishment, “That’s fine. You’ve just lost your xBox time for three days.” Well, we all know how well that went over, and of course it really only worsened the already poor attitude which I was trying to change. My own frustration was starting to get my temper simmering a bit. He sat there glaring at me, I sat there glaring at him. In an effort to take a second to cool myself, I looked out the window: I saw the blue sky, the green trees and grass, the stream glistening in the sun, the garden… to which I immediately remembered, “Oh yes, I need to start picking those rocks today.” And then suddenly pure, unadulterated parental evil genius struck!

I looked at my son, and said, “Okay. You obviously need some time to calm down, so why don’t you go put on your rain boots and head outside and enjoy the sun?” He looked at me for a second, still glaring, and then jumped up and ran for the door. As he opened the door to head outside, I dropped the bomb: “While you are outside enjoying the sun, you will pick the rocks out of the garden. You will continue picking the rocks until you feel that you can return to this house with a good attitude.” He mumbled something which I’m sure it’s best I didn’t hear, slammed the door and headed outside.

Knowing my son’s dislike of manual labor, I knew it wouldn’t take very long for a change of heart. I watched through the kitchen window as he stomped out into the garden, his face blacker than a thundercloud. A snail could have picked rocks faster than he did. But he did pick them, and he did eventually pick up the pace. And I could slowly see the change of attitude come over him. That built in curiosity that all boys have started getting the better of him, and he started examining the rocks he was picking. He picked a little faster, anxious to find some gems. I knew it wouldn’t be long now, and I turned away from the window, carrying on with my daughter’s lessons.

A few minutes later there was a knock at the back door. There stood my freckle-faced son holding out his hands which held two rocks and a dandelion. “Look what I found for you Mommy!” He showed me the first rock, a piece of shale, “I found this for you. Look, it looks like the Rocky Mountains, and you love mountains!” He then showed me the second rock, a sparkly white one, half covered in dirt, “I chose this one for you because it sparkles and it looks pretty, like you.” And then finally, the dandelion, “I know you love flowers. I’m sorry Mommy.”

Words can’t express the love that you feel for your child at a simple moment like that.  I knew that the rock would eventually break, the dandelion would die, and probably some day the memory would fade. So, I took a picture. A simple, unassuming picture that means so much.

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