There are precious moments when my sweet seven year old comes up to me and hugs me and looks up at me with his deep brown eyes and says, "I love you mama." He then, already grasping around my belly, spoke directly to his sister and shared the same sentiment, "I love you, Violet." Those are the moments I cherish, the moments I cling to. The moments that make parenting worthwhile and remind us that what we're doing is rewarding. That was this morning.

It's not a secret, and this is certainly not a complaint, but Eli can be a challenging child. By far not the most challenging, and I count my many blessings knowing I was hand selected to be his mom.

This evening we enjoyed a wonderful meal where this usually hyperactive child of mine demonstrated just how obedient and well mannered he could be. It was a scene to make any mother proud and no doubt I must have been beaming at the sight of my angelic son. We decided to stop in a gift shop that was just down from the restaurant and I gave my well behaved son $2 to spend. He immediately found a basket full of trinkets, $1.99, and now he had to decide. My son is a hoarder, a collector of all things junk so this was like finding a treasure chest at the end of a rainbow where he could pick a pet made from seashells. 
This is the turtle he chose. Only this one was broken. He had only 3 shell legs instead of 4 and the glue was exposed on top where it used to be connected to a now missing hat. I pulled several other complete turtle shell pets out of the basket trying to convince him another one was what we needed. He was determined. Strong willed, yes, but with deep conviction he would not be convinced.

"No, mom, I promised this guy I would take him home."

"But son, he's broken," I reasoned.

"But I can't leave him behind. This is the one I want."

The clerk realized the obvious predicament and even opened a new box to reveal more shiny, unbroken, in-tact turtle shell pets. My son was not going to be convinced. We were now experiencing a full blown meltdown with me arguing and him crying in the floor. (Thank goodness we're on vacation and no one knows us here.) 

We walked out of the store, he with the broken turtle and me with a broken spirit. I was exasperated at his determination and confused in this moment of parenting about whether I should have stuck to my guns and remained firm to get MY way or let him keep his broken and incomplete pet. The clerk realized my predicament and had pity, handing one of the new and complete shell pets to my mom. I showed it to Eli and explained the man wanted him to have a complete one. His answer to me was simple but profound. 

"He's cute too...but not as cute as the one I picked." 

I asked him later why he wanted that turtle so much and he explained, "Because mama, I chose him and I promised him I would pick him. He was the only one without a hat and no other kid would have gotten him that way." My son doesn't usually fit into the "mold" and rarely is he the model kid while dining out but how could I deny that after both experiences this evening what makes me the proudest is knowing how he sees the world. 

In his mind that broken little turtle shell pet was beautiful. And even as I type I cannot contain the tears at how this simple yet challenging moment has so challenged me. Catching a glimpse of beauty through his eyes and realizing that Father God must look upon our brokenness and see the same. 

Here they are. Both turtle pets, one broken and one complete. I'm kind of fond of the 3-legged guy myself! 


  1. A genuine gesture towards the little turtle! Sweet boy.


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