Mothers have so many positive traits, like empathy, sympathy, patience, unreserved love, etc. It would take until next Mother's Day to list and explain them all, so I'll just cover "understanding" this time around. It doesn't just mean they know what their children are thinking and/or feeling. It also means mothers respect those thoughts and feelings, and are prepared to take them into consideration before making a decision. In order to fully explain this trait, I have to tell you a story about rock-throwing:
When I was eleven years old, I got into a little trouble at school. Actually, I got into a little trouble at every age I was associated with said institution, but we'll just talk about this particular time.
Out on the playground during recess, my friends and I were playing a made-up game which, for creativity's sake, we will call "stick-rock". Loosely derived from baseball, one person pitches a small rock (about the size of a fifty-cent piece), and another tries to hit it with a stick. Here's the kicker: Once the rock is struck with the stick, the pitcher cannot move. Not even a flinch. Losing an eye is preferred over losing your honor.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, from the perspective of age and wisdom), hitting that tiny rock with a stick is not that easy. After wasting fifteen minutes of valuable recess time swinging and missing, the game lost its luster, making room for newer (and stupider) ideas. When I spotted a kid wearing a red shirt about 65 yards away, an evil little light bulb came on and then burst above my head, and I said "Watch this!"
Being a moderately skillful center-fielder, I was pretty good at calculating trajectories of flying objects. So by the time the projectile reached its apogee, a mumbled "Oh, shit!" escaped my lips. We could actually hear the thwack as the rock bounced off the poor kid's skull.
Even back then, that was a fairly serious infraction. But the teacher who was in charge (that day) of the inmates was sort of an Old Testament kind of guy. Or maybe a Libertarian? Whatever, his solution was to make me stand rigid, without moving (ironic, considering the earlier stick-rock game), while the victim of the crime hurled a brick-sized rock from about ten feet away, which hit me right behind the left ear.
In his defense, the teacher had apparently briefed said victim beforehand, and the kid was only supposed to wave the rock around a little bit to scare me. The jury's still out on whether the kid didn't hear that part or simply chose to ignore it. But the teacher freaked out and apolgized profusely, probably envisioning the end of his career or worse.
Now we get to the "understanding" part. When I got home that day, and my mom noticed blood on my shirt an a bandage on my neck, she (of course) demanded an explanation. Before I even finished the story, she grabbed her purse and was headed for the door, and I knew somebody was about to lose his job. It took me about fifteen minutes to bring her rage down to a manageable level, and make her understand that I was satisfied with the outcome and nothing more needed to be done. The world was in balance. She didn't like it, but she finally put her purse down, placed her hands on her hips, and said "Don't just stand there. Go get cleaned up before your dad gets home."
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