25: The Red Jumper

25: The Red Jumper

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

The Red Jumper

The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway.

~Henry Boyle

I was four years old, standing with my arms crossed, my lips pressed into a thin line, and my brown eyes ablaze with indignation. There was no way Mom was getting me to wear that red corduroy jumper.

A good friend of Mom’s had passed down the jumper to me when her daughter outgrew it. She probably assumed I would be thrilled. I was far from it.

“It’s too red!” I shouted, as I stormed off to my room, trying to unbuckle one of the straps. My little fingers were not yet coordinated enough to unhook the metal from around the button.

My poor mother dropped her head. My tantrum was making us late for a family outing. She could not understand why I hated the jumper so much. The fabric felt stiff and weird on my skin, but my young brain was unable to express that at the time.

My mom, ever so innovative and smart when it came to dealing with my brother and me, came up with a plan.

“It’s so cute. I just don’t understand,” she said. “Tell you what. Just try wearing it for today, and I’ll never ask you to wear it again.”

That worked. I wore it that one day, and never again.

Almost twenty-five years later, my four-year-old daughter sat on the floor wailing in a corner of my bedroom. Her big, brown eyes dripped tears that soaked her face. Her hair stuck to her cheeks.

She was enraged by my attempt to dress her in the flowery blouse she had picked out herself for preschool graduation. Five minutes before it was time to go, she changed her mind, and decided to put on an old, stained, and ill-fitting T-shirt that belonged to her older sister.

If we were headed to the park, a friend’s house, or to the grocery store, I would not have cared. In that moment, however, all I could think about were the pictures we would take. This was her first graduation and she would care about those photos when she got older.

The rest of the family, including my mom, waited patiently in the living room for the clothing feud to end. We were at a standoff. I declared we were not going if she did not change. I stretched the flowery blouse out on the bed and told her she had five minutes to decide. Then I left the room.

“I’m so frustrated,” I whispered as I walked into the living room. “I don’t get it. I just don’t understand.”

I felt like I was not handling the situation well. I looked up to see my mom eyeing me from across the room.

“Hmm,” she said. “I seem to remember a young girl throwing a tantrum over a red jumper. Maybe she gets it from her mother?”

I stood dumbfounded at how correct she was. Our lives had come full circle. I also remembered how she had calmly dealt with that outburst.

I turned and went back into the bedroom. My daughter stood wearing the new blouse, but looked very unhappy.

“Do you like the way this shirt feels on your skin?” I asked.

“No,” she sniffed.

“I’d like some nice photos of you today while you graduate and get awards. I’m so proud of you that I want to take your picture. Is that okay?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said.

“I can help you pick out something else nice if you are not comfortable in this, or you can try out this new shirt and wear it to your graduation and then never wear it again,” I said.

She thought for a moment, and then answered. “I’ll wear this to graduation, but then can I give it away?”

“Absolutely,” I said. My mom was right, as usual.

Even though I am a mother, a college graduate, and a business owner, it’s clear there is still so much I have to learn from my mom. I am grateful I can pass her wisdom on to my children. Maybe in twenty-five years my daughter will turn to me when she’s a mom, and I’ll know just what to do to help her.

~Mary Anglin-Coulter

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