Thursday, November 12, 2009

Neither Rain, Nor Snow, Nor Sleet, Nor a Heart

We've lived in our house at the end of the cul-de-sac for over four years, longer than I've lived anywhere since shacking up with my parents for 23 years. We've enjoyed our nice little life here -- safe neighborhood, nice neighbors and a mailman who's like clockwork.

Until now.

Our reliable, punctual, pleasant mail carrier Rafael had the nerve to up and retire on us. In his place, a disinterested youngish woman who we're lucky if she shows up by the time the street lights come on -- huge bummer. But the late delivery and indifference is nothing compared to today.

Let me rewind...

Jacob locked himself away earlier this afternoon, working diligently on a very important project. Out he came with a smile wide across his face, a homemade letter in hand. He had written a note to a new friend he played with this week. "I sometimes like you," was scribbled across the paper. You've got to love a man who's comfortable with his feelings.

"Daddy, can we walk to the mailbox?"

Out they went to drop Jacob's art project into the box. That was the end of the story.

I completely forgot the letter was out there, figuring I'd just grab it later and hand-deliver to my friend's son. Because our new carrier shows up at the crack of sundown, we were outside riding bikes and the letter was still sitting in the mailbox when she arrived. 

Jacob skipped down to the end of the driveway, proud as a peacock to watch his letter be taken away. Of course the mail carrier doesn't know this and leaves it in the box, considering it's not actually addressed or stamped.

I'm helping Lucy on her bike and have no idea there's a conversation happening until I hear the mail carrier bark, "It's not a real letter." It quickly occurred to me that Jacob had just questioned why she didn't take it out of the mailbox and she wasn't about to waste her time playing games with  a kindergartner. 

I look at Jacob and I swear he was shrinking. He was so hurt, dejected by not only having her skip something so important to him, but disregarding his feelings in such a callous -- and a bit harsher than I think is appropriate -- way.

I stormed down the driveway like a mama bear ready to pounce. I pulled the letter out of the box and handed it to her. "You forgot this," I informed her politely but in a way where she would understand that this was important. She looked at me like I was crazy. Hey I get it, it's not her job to engage in our family reindeer games. While she may not have understood what was happening, she reluctantly agreed to take it, perhaps even knowing it was the right thing to do.

Jacob smiled and turned back to his bike. It was clear all was back to being well with his world. As the mail carrier moved to the next pair of mailboxes next door, I quickly walked over and grabbed the art project back from her and shoved it between our own bills and junk mail.

Next mission: Getting it into his friend's mailbox before they discover what I'm up to!

What sneaky moves have you pulled to make your kid happy?