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A Tragedy Of Minor Proportions

Earlier this year, B created a terrarium in an old, clear, plastic coconut oil jar. He filled it mostly with soil from the woods, then added a few baby ferns and a couple of interesting moss specimens.

Lately, he found a small pretty fungus (it’s like an orange-spotted beige ball) he found on a tree and a dead butterfly. He’s really got quite the eye for décor; those items add exactly the right splash of color.


Usually, this jar sits below one of the kitchen windows. But in the morning, somebody needs to put it up on the table so that when the rats take their morning jaunt around the house, a fern will not get nibbled (we learned this the hard way). The somebody who usually does it is J. And its rightful place on the table is on the fourth placemat where our invisible houseguest sits (Jesus?).

This morning, I was doing something at that mat for a few seconds, so J put it on B’s placemat. Not knowing whether he intended to leave it there for the duration, I said, “You need to put it over here.” I pointed to where I had been working.

I may have used a sharper tone than necessary. And I may have implied that I thought his brain had gone on vacation because, you know, what the heck are you thinking, putting it there? You know darn well it goes over here!

No matter that B wasn’t going to eat until after the rats returned to their cage and the terrarium was returned to its place on the floor. Oh, no. There is a place for everything, and everything must be in place, or Control Freak Mama has to have a cow.

So I scolded J. And he picked up the terrarium to move it.

And bumped his arm against the back of the Windsor chair next to the table.

And dropped the terrarium.

“Oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god!”

That was my grown-up, rational reaction to the sight of ferns, moss, and dirt going everywhere.

I am thankful that B happened to be outside. Behind the house. I knew where he was, because he had announced a minute earlier that he had to poop.

No, we don’t have an outhouse behind the house. Not anymore. He goes into the woods somewhere, squats, and feeds the dung beetles.

Aren’t you glad your kid missed that phase?

Aren’t you eager to come take a walk through our woods?


The point is, I knew we had five to ten minutes to clean up the mess and get the terrarium back to a semblance of its former self. We must have done a fair job, since B has not said anything about it looking differently.

But next time, I need to do a fairer job. Of thinking before speaking. Of realizing that if J is doing something out of routine, it may possibly be because I am standing in his way of staying IN the routine.

Of extending to others the grace that I so desperately and constantly want from Father.

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