My favorite slacks were a well-worn pair of khaki capri’s purchased on sale at the Gap. They were casual and comfortable and often became my default weekend-wear.
One weekend when my son and I enjoyed breakfast at a greasy spoon, the black crayon he used to play tic, tac, toe ended up in his pocket, and eventually found its way into my dryer. In the heat, it melted into chunks of black gunk. The lovely black glue adhered itself to every piece of clothing in that load, including my favorite khaki capri’s.
When I discovered my khakis covered with melted black crayon, I had a melt down of my own. I threw an adult-sized temper tantrum and yelled at Cameron for being irresponsible and spoiled. I stomped around the house, carried on about the tragedy and ranted about how impossible it would be to replace them.
Cameron apologized for the crayon, but I was too upset to notice his grief and regret until his sobbing jolted me back to reality. I saw the reflection of my rage in his eyes and realized how my words were impacting his world. I felt awful. I scooped him up, hugged him, and apologized for being mean spirited. I asked him to forgive me for my temper. I was still upset, but promised to find another way to express my anger. We agreed to look for a solution together.
We scrubbed, soaked, bleached and purchased every creative concoction that promised to remove challenging stains, but nothing worked. Every failed attempt sunk Cameron’s hopes and sparked guilt for my human, but horrible reaction. When we exhausted our resources, we acknowledged defeat. My favorite pants had become black-wax khakis and were destined for the dump.
With the heart and wisdom of a child, Cameron timidly told me he liked my khakis better covered with black gunk. He thought they made them look interesting and unique. He’s a sweetheart optimist, but I recognized it was his attempt to make everything ok and realized the distinctive flair of our hand-made pants provided a unique opportunity for me to be a better mom.
Later that week I volunteered at Cameron’s school and showed up in his classroom wearing black-wax pants. When I walked in, Cameron noticed my pants and instantly smiled his precious smile. Later I overheard him whisper to his buddies that my outfit was unique and hand-made. He said they made me look pretty. I secretly celebrated our crayon-stained story had a better ending than its beginning.
A regrettable reaction gave me the opportunity to create a new and powerful perspective with my son. I don’t wear them anymore, but I’ve kept the crayon-stained pants to remind me that some things are more important than pants and story endings can be re-written.