Let me back up a bit . . . .
As children, I would guess most of us heard of “Aesop’s Fables”, for example, the story of “The Tortoise and the Hare” and “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. As children, who doesn’t remember hearing about Hans Christian Andersen and his many awesome life lesson stories, such as, “Thumbelina” and the ever popular, “The Ugly Duckling and the Swan”. All great stories with a powerful lesson and always a “the moral to the story is” ending. Well, not only did I learn from those stories in my childhood, as an adult, I also learned from Tyler, my son. Yes, I was indeed the parent, and a pretty good one too he tells me, but now that he is 25 years old and I get to look back, it was amazing how often Tyler was the teacher – however – please remember I was newly sober and really teachable! (By the way, one can be “newly sober” for many many years, such as myself.) Yep, my own live-in, real life experiences of, “Tales of Tyler the Teacher”.
But I digress. So – let me to get back to the “really loud whisper“. . . .
Tyler had long been able to climb out of his bed when ever he felt like it. He had become my built-in rooster as he started to stir every sunrise. On one such morning, when he was about 3 and a half, as I was in my deep, deep, hard-working-single-mom slumber, unbeknownst to me, Tyler had tip toed up to my bed.
He whispered loudly, “MOM?”.
Nothing from me.
He whispered really loudly, “MAAHHHM?!!”
He then gently squeezed and slightly pulled up on my entire left eyebrow in such a way that he was able to pull my skin and eyelid up with it, just enough to completely expose my entire brown eyeball. “MOM??!!!!” he whispered really loudly again.
Finally – mission accomplished.
In my flatline daze, I said to the beautiful little boy with curly blonde hair looking down at me, “What is it Tyler?”
“I don’t know what I should do Mom.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know if I should color, or play with my Legos.” The expression on his face was incredibly serious and he appeared quite torn over this decision that he must make as soon as possible.
“Well Son . . . How ’bout Legos first, and then color?”
“Okay! Thanks Mom!” And off he went.
By the time I got up, shook off the cobwebs and went to my son’s side, he was coloring in his coloring book.
“What did you make with your Legos?” I asked as I looked at the small red pile of dinky scattered plastic bricks, windows and Lego men.
He kept coloring with his favorite blue crayon and finally said to me, “Nothing. I don’t yike ’em”. (Why he could say, “Legos”, and not the word “like” at that point in his life, is beyond me.)
Through asking a few investigative questions about his Legos, I had come to the realization that he had outgrown this type of Lego style “age group”. Perhaps it happened during that week he had outgrown his shoes, a favorite pair of shorts, and a particular tiny yellow flashlight. All needed to be “bigger” please.
It hit me like a ton of real bricks – suddenly I felt guilty and hopeless as I dropped Tyler off at his daycare that morning. We hugged good-bye and I told him how much I loved him. And off he went to play and off I went to work. The mounting pile of things we needed was growing each and every day. I was mentally under attack as I thought about the mounting pile of money I was owing. I had just enough money in my checking account so it would not be closed. Some how I made it through my endless work day and I went straight to the toy store. I found myself standing in the isle with all of the different sizes of bright-colored Lego boxes. Picking each box up, one at a time, I tortured myself as I looked at the different kits they offered from farms to spaceships. Not stopping myself from my self-inflicted pain, I started to feel worthless, my self-hatred engulfed me as if I had thrown myself into an oven full of hot coals in an engine room on an old steam ship. The “ism” of my disease of alcoholism grabbed me by my hair and tossed me around like a wild fish on a line as I wished I could burn and vanish into ashes. But it wasn’t me that I hated – it was the disease of my alcoholism that I hated. At the moment, I could not tell the difference. I believed my own lie that the only way I’d feel better is if I wrote another bad check for a bigger and better box of Legos for my son. I stood there in my self-pity. . . . Then I remembered! . . . . I put the box of Legos down, price tag and all, and I quickly went outside of the toy store and practically ran up to the pay phone in the parking lot and threw a quarter in it. I called someone I met in my AA meeting and spoke of my moral dilemma.
She bluntly asked me, “Did you drink today?”
“No.” I said.
Then she asked me, “Is your rent paid for the rest of the month?”
Then she asked me, “Is your son healthy?”
“Sounds like a good day to me.” She said. “Now stay away from that toy store and go pick up your healthy son.”
I thanked her over and over.
The darkness vanished from around me and the goodness and blessings of my true reality settled back into my heart and mind. So easy – but so difficult.
As soon as Tyler saw me walk into his day care, he smiled his big perfect smile at me and his big brown eyes sparkled. I noticed he was wearing a brown head band made out of construction paper and stapled to the back of his head band were three cut out feathers, one red, one orange and the last one was blue, Tyler’s favorite color. It was an Indian headband. I had completely forgotten that it was the day they were going to study Indians. He hugged me around my legs. All the kids had on their sweet and adorable hand-made Indian headbands. Love and fun oozed out from every one and every thing. I allowed it to spill on me as I soaked it all up. I had not realized that I was in need of love and fun. As Tyler and I said our good-byes and we walked back outside together, I went to hold his hand. He lifted his hand and opened it to show me 4 tiny rocks. He could barely hold all four rock in his little perfect hand.
“Look Mom!!” He said out loud. “Indian rocks! I painted each one of them a different color just like how the Indian kids did! These are just like the toys that the Indians used! Did you know Indians used rocks as their toys?! It was so much fun today! Look Mom, look!”
I stopped and kneeled down at my son’s side and looked at the Indian rock toys that he had made that day. One purple, one gray, one orange and one green. They were exquisite. A sight to behold. All sitting in the palm of my son’s hand. I almost had to sit down on the sidewalk to get my composure. But I didn’t because Tyler grabbed my hand as he started to pull me and said, “Come on Mom, let go home and play with the Indian toys!”
He had completely forgotten about the Legos – and I learned from Tyler once more that –
the best things in life are not things at all.