Out-Turn

Most mornings these days Wil wakes up happy and cooperative; he’s nearly sixteen years old now. We have a few morning struggles but nothing like his earlier years. He enjoys school, seeing his friends, and his independence. We talk about what day of the week it is, the month and the season. Wil keeps close track of the days and the month, but occasionally will get thrown off on the season (Mother Nature herself does the same!).

He picks out his clothes and what he wants for breakfast the night before so both are set in his mind. These choices, even made ahead of time, are what can make or break a morning.

One morning I made a ham, cheese & spinach wrap per his previous night’s request. Elizabeth woke him up as I was coaching. When I arrived home, Wil was seated on the Lazy-boy, still in pajamas, the ham, cheese and spinach wrap on a plate next to him untouched. There were only 10 minutes left before we needed to leave for school.

“Mom,” Elizabeth said, “he won’t eat it. I’ve tried offering other things but he gets more upset. So I’m giving him a minute. And I need to get ready for school.”

“Well, good! I’m starving!” I said and took a huge bite of his wrap.

“Mooooom!” Wil said. I was relieved to hear humor in his voice. I jumped on the opening he provided before he slammed it shut. I took another bite and danced around.

“Geez, mom!”

“What do you want to eat? I’ll make it quick. You need to get dressed.” I said.

Wil looked up at me; he contemplated.

A long time ago a sales manager commonly repeated an acronym: SUAL (shut up and listen).

It’s sound advice. Any further rushing or pushing takes control from him, and thus requires even more time for him to unravel.

I SUAL.

I SUAL.

I SUAL.

“Turkey hot dog!” He said.

I sighed in relief. “You got it! Go get dressed, quick like a tortoise!” (I used to say fast like a rabbit, and he’d reply slow like a tortoise, so this joke usually got him moving).

If this were a game of curling, I’d be the sweeper. Vigorously, patiently, tactically, I smooth the path for Wil to make his way — curving at times — successfully, independently onto the target.

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