So, there I was, walking my 3-yr-old son to class, as he drank milk from his baby bottle. Unlike, my daughters, who even at that young an age, would have never been caught dead at school with a bottle in their hand, my son had absolutely no qualms.
In fact, he was walking rather proudly. Sort of like the self-assured man who drives a beat up old car and says to himself, “Women are going to have to like me for who I am and not what car I drive.” (Only in this case it was more like, “Girls, I still drink from a bottle, and do you have a problem with that?”)
When we arrived at school that morning, I attempted to take the bottle away and he fought me off like Frodo, fighting off Gollum, when he tried to take the One Ring away in The Lord of the Rings. Therefore, I let him keep it momentarily, hoping that he would hand it to me as we got closer to his classroom. Yes, the pediatrician has told us that he should already be off the bottle.
My son has a bottle of milk in the morning, which he usually drinks during morning Mass (friends always compliment me on how well he behaves in church), and one at night. However, on this particular day, I was running late. We didn’t make it to morning Mass, so I gave him the bottle as we headed to his school, which is about five minutes from our house.
As we walked across the parking lot into the school, I started feeling a bit self-conscious about what other parents might think (many kids start to wean off the bottle anytime after their first birthday). Again, I tried to take the bottle from him, and he gave me a Frankenstein-like groan with his bottle in his mouth, as he pulled his head and torso away from me to put distance between the bottle and me.
And, as we turned the corner of the hallway, there she was, my son’s Pre-K teacher, who is a woman of Irish-descent in her late 50’s. “You’re still drinking from a bottle?” was the first thing that came out of her mouth, as she looked at me and rolled her eyes (C'mon.. we're Cuban, I thought. We probably coddle our children a little longer and he might still be living with us into his late 20's, but did she really have to roll her eyes at me?).
As if that were not humiliating enough, another well-intentioned mom, with a son in my son’s class, tried to give me advice on how to take my son’s bottle away. “We gave our son those nipples full of dimples, and he wanted nothing to do with them.” (Oh the shame, I thought. Here is, probably, a first-time parent schooling me on how to do my job). "My son insists on his morning bottle," I pathetically offered, throwing my son under the bus and trying to shift the blame on him (He's only three!).
Fortunately, at that point, I was able to pry the bottle from my son’s hands as he went into his classroom.
As I reflect on this episode, I realize a few things.
Sure, I will never show up again at school with my son sucking on his bottle and we really do have to make a consorted effort to get him off it, but, the most important thing I learned is that this had nothing to do with my son, who was oblivious to what happened that morning. It had everything to do with me; my ego, my self-esteem, my insecurities and my pride. It was a simple lesson on the subtle way sin creeps into my life.
Forgive me, Lord, and thank you for the lesson.