I came across an article on snopes.com a few weeks ago that said that I'm more likely to be shot by a toddler than a terrorist.
I'm not that surprised.
I have never suffered as many injuries to my body as I have since I invited little babies and children to live here, and I'm not even counting the ways I've been hurt by them doing normal things, such as nursing.
I'm talking about all of the times they have dropped a metal can on my toe, stood up and smashed my chin with their heads while I was bending over them to zip up their jackets, tripped me and sent me falling down the stairs or thought it would be funny to throw a paper airplane at my head and hit me in the eye. There have even been times — many times — when my husband has been full-on punched in the gut by my daughter when a benign family wrestling match gets a little too exciting.
But I have a story to tell about these little terrorists that live in my home, and maybe it can apply to other areas of our communities because I believe in families. I believe families can be a guide to our past, a glimpse of our future and include people we have never before met. I believe families can be great and small — as big as a country, even.
In my family, I have a little 6-year-old boy. He's a paradox, as I've written before, and he never disappoints to show the depth and breadth of his character. For example, he does not like to hear the word "no." One time, he asked for some candy after school and I said no, and he screamed for no less than 20 minutes. Just the other night, I told him he couldn't have Arby's for dinner and he lost his mind over the idea that he would have to wait while I made him something else.
In his defense, he's not his best when he's hungry. Poor guy is as thin as anything, and when his stomach hits empty there's not much to tide him over. When he's hungry, he's hungry. When he's bored, he's bored. And nothing to him is more entertaining than pestering his parents, brother or sister, or breaking some poor unassuming toy. He has slashed his brother's cheek with his fingernails, talked back and said terrible things about how much I am the worst mom ever.
He's not perfect — nobody's perfect.
However, if you looked at my child, without knowing him, and decided that he is going to be a nuisance, that he shouldn't be allowed in some public place, or that he is going to ruin your dinner in some restaurant by being in your vicinity, then you are wrong. If you think that you have nothing to gain from being in his presence because of his age, then you are missing out. If you are annoyed by the mere sight of my son — and all of the 6-year-olds like him — and reduce him to a one-dimensional little terror out to ruin your day, then heaven help you.
My son teaches me about compassion daily. One day this week, we traveled somewhere that had a gumball machine. He knew it was coming. He started planning his visit to this gumball machine days in advance, and he just couldn't wait. He talked to his sister about how he was going to get a gumball — and she was sad to learn the visit would be when she couldn't go. So, when the day arrived, my son took two quarters out of his piggy bank — one for him and one for her. He bought her a gumball and gave it to me to keep it safe for her. He didn't even think twice.
A day or two later, my kids were sitting at the dinner table, eating dessert. My son had to finish all of his little bowl of chicken soup to get the chocolate cake — and he didn't like it. However, his desire for dessert overrode his distaste for chicken, so he powered on. He had taken a few bites of the cake when his sister started to get in a fight with her dad. She lost her dessert privilege. As soon as my husband removed her cake from the table, my son slid his plate over to her. He didn't even wait. He saw the tears in her eyes and he wanted to make it better; it didn't matter if it meant he wouldn't have what he wanted.
So, sometimes I don't want to let this noisy, disruptive 6-year-old into my room to sleep at night because I'm worried he'll wake me up. But my husband reminds me he's still a child, and he needs his parents. He needs love.
And that is what a family is for.