Today was like any other day. The kids came home, dumped their backpacks, kicked off their shoes and socks, smelling of fresh air and looking tired, hot, and a little disheveled. After bathroom trips, washed hands, and offered snacks, we settled into the couch for the run-down of what they did today: papers, events, funny stories, etc. When Boo went around the corner to make a sandwich, Yaks, who was sitting by my side, took a deep breath and said quietly, "Mom? I have something to tell you." I looked at his little face, and saw him blinking back tears and quivering lip. It was something bad, I could tell. I scooted over to face him and smiled and asked to please tell me. I knew this took every ounce of courage he had, and I didn't even know what it WAS yet!
"I think I ruined my library book, " as he released the choked sob that was caught in the back of his throat.
That was all?
Oh, but this was something big for this 6-yr-old. I had to bite the side of my mouth to not cry myself, as my eyes welled with tears. I was hurting for my sweet boy, who had just made this really difficult confession. How brave. In his mind, life as he knew it was over. We'd ruined another library book, and this time it was HIS fault. From where he sat, the fine to replace it would ruin us. After the lectures that both I and the librarian have given our kids about the cost of lost and ruined library books, I can see where he got that idea! Our library is notorious for HUGE fines and replacement fees ($10.00 for a Lego magazine that now gets delivered to our house FOR FREE!). I felt so bad.
Yaks explained that he didn't know HOW the book got ruined. He thought maybe he had put his book on something sticky, and it got on the cover. His fists flew to his eyes, as I saw tears rolling down his cheeks.
I told him thank you for telling me. That it was OKAY. School library books aren't as expensive to replace as our public library, and we'd figure out a way to pay for it tomorrow. Not to worry. "Could you bring me the book so I can take a look at it?"
He ran to get it, sniffling as he went, and when he brought me the book, I wasn't sure if he had grabbed the right one. "Where is it ruined?"
He points to a small slightly sticky smudge, probably the size of a dime on the back, shiny board book cover. I heaved a sigh of relief for his sake. I could have cleaned it with some spit and my thumb!
I told him this was something we could fix, and instructed him to go get a damp towel, and I let him wipe away the smudge. His face was priceless, as he gently rubbed it dry, then ran his fingers over the cover, marveling that it was as good as new! The smile that spread across his face was a moment I will never forget.
I gave him a hug. Told him thank you again for telling the truth, even though he was scared. I was so proud of him. Off he went with a huge weight off his shoulders.
So many reminders from that little experience: The importance of telling the truth, and how hard it can be sometimes. How I must react when my children come to me for help. A smile at the title of the smudged book, "Save the Galaxy", and the irony that Yaks' little world was saved with the power of a damp cloth, and a mother's gentle words. And on a deeper level, the power of repentance, and Christ's ability to wipe not only the tears from our eyes, but the mistakes from our past. We have only to bring them to Him. I'm so grateful for that little reminder today.