Flat Stanley and the Coffee Spoon
Written and submitted by: Krystle S. of Founders in Real Life.
My husband and I have been married nearly ten years (together fifteen). Yes, applaud away. It’s no small feat these days. We’ve been together since I was 19 years old. Which, in retrospect, is an age that feels akin to infancy. We’ve experienced so much; we’ve grown, we’ve changed, and by the grace of some sparkling universe unicorn, we’ve done all those things together.
During our ten years of marriage, we have been blessed with three boys. These boys have taught us so much about ourselves by exhibiting their versions of our personality traits. We’re often caught saying, “Oh, he gets that from you” or, less politely, “that’s all your fault”. When children teach us things, it’s not in traditional lesson format. They don’t sit us down and prepare us for the knowledge they’re about to drop on us. They just drop it, like lead legos on your toes.
My oldest son, Eli, is now six years old. I’ve been told he’s quite a bit like me. My mother always wished (half-cursed) upon me a daughter who was exactly like me. Well, I didn’t get any daughters, but I think the universe served its purpose when Eli was born. He’s the first born. He’s sensitive, which can be both a curse and a blessing. He experiences the good and bad of the world with a higher intensity than most. He gets hangry, with a capital “H”. He likes things the way he likes things. All just like his mama.
When my husband and I got married, we received a traditional silverware set. It’s not actual silver, but some weight in stainless steel. It’s held up for us all this time. We chose a set with an understated design. The best way to describe it is that the handles of each utensil are rounded a bit. They allow us to eat food without dirtying our fingers, so I’d say they’re quite wonderful.
Over the years we’ve hosted gatherings with both friends and family and, inevitably, some dish, or Tupperware, or spoon gets left behind with no one to claim it.
Enter: The “Flat Stanley” Spoon
I don’t have a clue who left this spoon or when. It stands out from the rest because, you guessed it, the handle is flat in contrast to our otherwise rounded handles. Honestly, it annoys me because it’s not like the rest, and it messes up the stacking situation in the silverware organizer thingy. But, my six-year old became rather enamored with the thing and decided it was his *favorite* spoon. It’s THE spoon for morning cereal. He specifically looks for his “flat stanley” spoon and if it’s not in the drawer, he goes to the dishwasher that’s usually clean in the mornings if mom and dad were on their game the night before. If the dishwasher and flat spoon are dirty…. HOLY HELL. The day is automatically shot. We’re all going to hell in a handbasket. Life CANNOT go on. Queue the whining and, if it’s a particularly tough morning, queue the full-on temper tantrum.
It makes me insane. My immediate reaction is, “who cares, it’s a SPOON?!”. At first, I tried to coax him down by doing #allthethings. You know, I get down to his level, I acknowledge his feelings, I give him the hug, and I try to help him find alternative solutions on his own. After, I don’t know, probably three similar incidents, I now immediately launch into the “do you know how many kids have NO spoons and NO bowls and NO milk and NO cereal to eat before they go to school, IF they even have the privilege of attending school?!??!” You know that speech.
Anyway, he loves this freaking spoon and it annoys me. Because, spoons are spoons, right? Who freaking cares whether the handle is flat or round? It’s a SPOON. Get over it and eat your damn cereal.
Enter: The Knowledge Drop
It’s a Saturday morning, long after we initially realized that the flat spoon was a “thing”. On Saturday mornings, my husband is on duty which means I get to leisurely make my way downstairs when I’m good and ready. I have some time to actually get myself dressed, if I so choose. I have the luxury of making myself breakfast before anyone else and I get to drink a coffee while it’s still hot. I know, it’s so amazing that you’re thinking, is this a parenting story or soft-core porn? Hard to tell.
I take my coffee with almond milk and some form of sweetener (ugh, okay I put maple syrup in my coffee because I’m a snob and I’m weird). So, I get the milk, the maple syrup, my favorite mug and I head on over to the Keurig. I’m like one of Pavlov’s salivating dogs except my dinner bell is the blue light on this heavenly caffeine machine. The happiness is just bursting out of me like sunbeams. I hit the buttons and make my coffee and then realize, I forgot a spoon to stir it up before I imbibe. I open the silverware drawer and I don’t find what I’m looking for. Yes, I see spoons, but not what I’m looking for. So, I head over to the dishwasher, just as Eli would if he couldn’t find his flat spoon.
I ask my husband, “where’s my coffee spoon?”
He replies, “your what?”
“My coffee spoon. You know, the one that’s has the scalloped edges and is a little smaller than the rest? It’s THE spoon I use to stir my coffee.”
He gives me a markedly long blank stare followed by the slow curling up of a half smile and responds, “Oh, he gets it from you”.
Ah, yes. Like mother, like son. The affection my son shows for his flat spoon is equivalent to my love for my special scalloped coffee spoon. Did he learn it because he observed my behavior? Or was this a gift I gave him when I contributed to his DNA? Either way, in retrospect, I absolutely picked this up from my father with his intense affection for, of all things, miniature spoons (measuring spoons in increments of “dashes”, “pinches”, and “smidgens”). Whatever it is, it’s a family trait. An heirloom, if you will, passed down from generation to generation (my mother is rolling on the floor laughing right now).
Since my enlightenment, I’ve changed my tune a bit. If Eli’s flat stanley spoon is dirty, I’ve taught him to wash it himself. We like what we like, and I’ve learned to appreciate that other people may like things that I would otherwise deem inconsequential. In return, he’s learning that he can have his spoon and appreciate the cereal he’s eating with said spoon. We agree that we can express gratitude and still maintain our preferences. The best part about all of this, is that every single time I see either of our spoons, I smile. My heart is quickly warmed by the fact that some sparkling universe unicorn gave me a little human who is just like me.
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