The Girl in the Red Dress (and an Epic Fail Moment)

It had been a long day, complete with a child having to get her her nose cauterized due to a severe nose bleed, and rounds of unexpected company.  I was struggling to stay awake while The Boy With A Cat Named Webster showed no mercy. The Scrabble score was 257 to 173. Not in my favor.  I should’ve been snuggled under the country comforter lovingly stitched together by a Vermont aunt, the comforter that was still crumpled at the foot of the bed because despite my best intentions I hadn’t managed to catch up on a week’s worth of laundry or  other mundane but necesssary household tasks.

Should’ve been in bed. Except the The Girl in the Red Dress was still out and no matter how difficult it is to keep my tired, puffy eyes open, I always, always stay awake until the daughters are home.

It was homecoming night. She looked far too grown up in the red dress with the spaghetti straps. I told her to put a trench coat on over it. She laughed. I was serious.  She and her two girlfriends were soon piled into the Outback and on their way to the school where a DJ was  setting up.

The dance lasted for only two hours and as soon as it finished my phone buzzed. Hey we’re gonna go eat Pho.  Is it okay if I go?  We’ll be home by – and she named a time that I quickly deemed unreasonable.  After getting the details of who was going and who was driving and which Pho they were going to, I countered with another curfew time, and then set about finding ways to stay awake. Watching documentaries alongside The Boy With A Cat Named Webster probably wasn’t the wisest idea.

My phone vibrated an hour and a half later. Hey, we just finally got here.

 Was the dance fun? Did you see Lonnie? (not his real name) I asked, thinking of one of the Special Education students I work with who had shown me  some dance moves he planned to make on the big night, and how he was going to fix his hair for the special event.   Lonnie is a large boy with both physical and intellectual challenges, but he is one of the happiest young men I’d ever known, and is often in his own world grinning, singing, snapping his fingers or dancing.

Yeah, I danced with him. He said to make sure I told you.  I could see her grin even though she was halfway across town, and it made my heart grow in Grinch sizes to know that she was such a kind girl.

Aww, you are so sweet.

I try. She added some little smiley face thingys and I went back to the documentary on over medicated children.

Well over an hour later I forced my fingers to find letters on my phone’s keypad.  You are supposed to be home. I’m so tired.

We are on our way. 

Then a little later Ugh. They are still dropping other people off. I’m one of the last.

I let her know that I wasn’t too happy. It was now the time that I had deemed unreasonable earlier. You are going to lose your phone for a while. I told her. It’s not acceptable for you to be this late. My displeasure was evident.

When she burst through the door a short time later, I stuck out my hand. She placed the iPhone she had purchased herself in it and I made some comments about the red dress being a bit too  immodest and how very tired I was and how difficult it would be to get up for church. Then I went to bed.

Epic Fail.

I woke up about an hour later when an almost physical pain pinched my heart. It hit me.  I had let that beautiful Girl in the Red Dress go to bed without a hug or a verbal praise for her kind actions. Discipline and sleep had been the only things on my mind. I found myself sobbing. Noisey, bed shaking sobs. I love that girl so much. What if the last words I said to her were criticisms about keeping me awake?  I thought about all of the missed opportunities with my own mom and how now she is too weak to even talk on the phone and the opportunities won’t come around again. Sadness blended with grief and I hiccuped and swiped at my cheeks. I fumbled in the dark for the tattered robe I thought I would give up when I got a new one, and slipped it on. I shoved open the door to The Girl’s room and stepped over blankets  and clothing.  I knelt at her bed and whispered her name.  She sort of opened her eyes and tried to focus.  “I love you so much, girl.  I’m sorry I didn’t ask about the dance. We’ll talk about it over coffee in the morning,” I told her, and her dazed expression turned to a sleepy smile. She mumbled ‘kay before pulling her worn Broncos blanket up to her elfin chin and rolling over to her side.  I went back to bed. And slept through the time I should have been up for church.

I still kept her phone for awhile. It’s okay to discipline our children; in fact it’s necessary for there to be consequences when they step outside the boundaries we set for them.  But discipline needs to be framed with grace and love.  It would’ve been an epic fail parent moment except for the fact that God continually fills my heart with His grace to pour out, and my children the grace to receive it.  My sweet daughter woke up the next morning and did indeed have a rare (for her) cup of hazelnut coffee with me while we talked a bit about the night before .She completely understood and even agreed with the loss of her phone privileges.

And once again I marveled at how God’s grace, God’s love, always manages to fill in the holes my parenting mistakes create.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,      1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Grateful for this wonderful life,

Marie with a 🙂