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Originally written on Jan. 28, 2020

It’s a bad setup. Again.

I remind Wyatt “Hey, buddy, it is 7:30, we gotta get moving to be on time.”

Movement begins slowly. (And then…noise begins in the background as the two magnets known as Wyatt (11) and Sawyer (7) start their daily routine of attraction and repulsion all within a few seconds.)

Sawyer has become enthusiastic in showing off his 7-year-old “8 pack” and strength as the smallest one in the house. Wyatt tolerates it…barely…most of the time. Sawyer tried to prove his strength walking out to the van with both his backpack and Wyatt’s. While I was locking up the house, I heard more commotion and as I walked up the two magnets began with attraction and quickly switched to repulsion as the backpacks were caught in a tug of war.

As the metal water bottle clanged to the ground in our very quiet and still neighborhood, it led to Sawyer screaming, me threatening something (who knows what in the moment) and tensing up like the Hulk, and Wyatt shutting down. Wyatt mumbled “sorry.” The sound of it is telling. I know where he is going. He is sinking. Fast.

This is our “template” and our default. This could be an awful 15 minute drive to school.

“Wyatt, can you look at me? Can you see my eyes in the rear view mirror.”

“Why? I suck.”

The discussion ensues. “You don’t suck.” “Yes, I do.” That’s familiar too. Both Sawyer and I assure him we don’t think that about him. Then for some reason I said “Buddy, even if you do suck, remember Jesus died for our suckiness. Mine, yours, Sawyer’s.” I assume this is theologically accurate as suckiness probably fits into the “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” category pretty neatly.

“Wyatt, remember that song that Mom always plays? ‘Be Kind to Yourself’? Remember how it says something about us being our own enemy sometimes?”

“Yeah. Would you play it, Dad?”

“How does it end when the war that you’re in is just you against you against you? You’ve got to learn to love, learn to love, learn to love your enemies too.”

We played the song once. We played it twice. We started it a third time, which angered Sawyer. I let it play anyway. As we finally pulled up to school and dropped them off, Wyatt wouldn’t stop hugging me as we walked up. Sawyer still pushed forward, brooding. I walked up behind him, hugged him, and told him “I know you’re not happy with me, but I love you.” His teacher signaled that he was smiling even though he was trying to conceal it.

I didn’t get it all right this morning, but maybe I’ll be kind to myself too.

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