28 March 2013

Of Bedtime Kisses

It was a night to remember.

Not for anything glamorous.

It was a spaghetti-stains-making night.  A snuggle on the couch watching our favorite 90's TV show night.  A giggling with dinner guests night.  An "I don't like green beans!" night.  A put the baby to bed early because he's just plain grumpy night.

And none of these by themselves would necessarily be memories in the making.

But when it all culminates with bedtime stories on Mommy and Daddy's bed, passing kisses from left to right and right to left - with that oldest boy pulling his daddy's head down by his hair so he can kiss it just right, right on the top.  And head kisses turned to elbow kisses and elbow kisses were shoulder kisses and shoulder kisses were cheek kisses.  Sloppy kisses, giggling kisses, don't-want-to-send-them-to-bed kisses.

And who would want to forget a night like that.

Because it's how the day ends that makes all the rest of it make sense.

1,000 Gifts:
1117.  All. of. it.

17 March 2013

Of a Child-Like Faith

In flipping through a board book recently, Micaiah did as she typically does, recalls what she remembers of the story and makes up the rest based on the pictures.  As I fluttered about doing various things, preparing to head out the door to meet someone, I heard her declare, "And then Jesus died on the cross."

Looking over, I noticed this particular book was one about Easter.  She had turned to the illustration of three crosses on a hill and knew their significance.  She continued, "Jesus died on the cross, because . . . I don't know why.  Mommy, why did Jesus die on the cross?"

I love the beautiful curiosity God built in children that can turn a board book into an opening for the gospel.  Recognizing this wasn't an issue to be glossed over and had infinite importance, especially when compared with a simple meeting, I stopped in my flurry and embraced the moment.

"Do you know how we sometimes disobey God?"


"And when we disobey God, we need to be punished, right?"


"Well, God sent Jesus to die on the cross to take our punishment for us."

"But Jesus is God."

And with the simplicity only a four-year-old can muster, she speaks the truth of a King.

"Yes, Jesus is God. God became a man so He could take our punishment."

Oh, how precious the beauty of Easter and the vastly important job we, as parents, have to impress this knowledge on our children.  Knowledge with which they will someday wrestle to make it their own, but now, at this very young age, they accept as truth, without question, because we have told them it is true.

"At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?'  And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, 'Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'" - Matthew 18:1-4

Let us not waste these precious opportunities to speak Truth to our children, but let us also embrace this Truth as a child, ourselves.  Our faith is to worked out with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), yes, but at a certain point we will have to acknowledge it as faith and faith alone - we must accept it as True, because our Father has told us it is True.  And He alone is trustworthy.

13 March 2013

Of His Thumbs Up

"Look, Emmett," I said, pointing to his tokens on the Sequence for Kids board, "if you play Camille the Camel here, you'll have how many?  See, one, two, three.  And then you can use your Unicorn to get this spot and you'll win."

He grinned.  And in a brief flash, I noticed his left thumb go up while his right eye, no joke, winked at me.

When did this kid get so fly?

12 March 2013

Of Facing their Fears

While most children would jump up and down (pun so entirely intended) at Mommy and Daddy's surprise of spending the morning leaping on inflatable mazes and slides (albeit, not quite as exciting as Paris or the zoo, which were Micaiah's guesses), our children tend to be a little more anxious than most.  

In Emmett's defense, Saturday morning's excursion was his first experience with a bouncy house, so some trepidation is understandable.  But when a kid only the day before announced, "Look, Mommy!  I'm standing on the moon!" while perched on the arm of the loveseat, and proceeded with, "I'm jumping on the moon!" while flailing himself on the cushions, one might reasonably assume he'd more thrilled to be able to perform such actions with permission this time.  Apparently one would be wrong.

His sister took some warming up, as well, but by the time she discovered new "friends" (some legit, from church, and some brand new to her, but everyone is always welcome), she was running through the maze with the best of them.

The slides were an issue, which was sad because it was a large part of the experience overall.  So, the second time I accompanied our daughter down, I pointed to the warning sticker at the top of the hill, indicating tandem sliding as a taboo.  "See," I told her, "You're supposed to go all by yourself."

"Yeah.  But let's go anyway."

That's my little rule-breaker.

After that, it was all about the law - only because it gave her leverage over her brother. 

"See, Bubba?  It says to go by yourself."

And that was all it took to convince the little guy we had to push and pull onto the inflatable in the first place (the one who had spent the majority of the past hour stepping gingerly toward a bounce-house before hurrying away before we could talk him into it) to declare, "I have to do it all by myself!"  And off he went, scurrying up the rubber-covered ladder/stairs to throw himself down the nearest slide (nevermind the fact he had never even been interested in the activity with accompaniment, let alone by himself).

Before we knew it, we had a sliding fool and a social butterfly scurrying hither and yon among the growing crowd.  

Oh, and their little brother? It was all we could do to keep that guy from climbing the ballooned sides himself from moment one. This little man knows no fear. "They don't want to play?" he seemed to say, "Don't worry, I've got this!"

Oh how different children can be.

05 March 2013

Of Saying Good-Bye

"Guys, come here, I need to talk to you."

Micaiah started inching her way toward me, a sly grin on her face.  She's right, usually when I bring her and her brothers close to talk to them I'm telling them about something exciting that's going to happen - we're leaving that afternoon to go to Nenaw & Papaw's, we're going to pick up the toys so we can paint, we're going to the store (it doesn't take much, when you're four or less, to garner excitement).  It broke my heart knowing how out of place her current grin of anticipation was.

"Annie won't be coming home."

It was the sad news I had hoped not to have to share when we found the lump in our cat's abdomen on Sunday.  I had hoped making them say good-bye to her yesterday, while she moaned in her cage just before being shuttled off to the vet, was just a silly precautionary measure - more like a, "Have fun at the doctor; we'll see you soon!" kind of good-bye.

But it wasn't so.

At first the pronouncement that Annie wouldn't be returning from the doctor was a little bit of a shock to the two older ones and I debated whether to leave it at just that.  These are the tough calls a Mommy has to make when Daddy is at work and real life is unfolding before us.  So I decided to push through and be honest (well, as honest as a four-year-old and a two-year-old need).

"She's very sick and she's going to die."

At this my tears broke forth, indicating to Micaiah this was the proper response.  Thus, imitating me, she, too, wept for Annie.

For about ten full seconds.

And then, through the sobs, "Mommy, maybe we can do an activity."

"What kind of activity, Baby?" Was her soul more sensitive than I had anticipated? Was she already planning some sort of memorial?  Or was it simply-

"You know, an activity from The Box?"  Yep, just as I suspected. "The Box" being a cardboard box in which I keep craft kits for she and her brother to do on occasion.  Nothing cat or funeral-related there.  Just a fun thing to do now that we're done crying.

"Okay, Baby, sure."

Apparently these kinds of things are just easier on the young.

To be fair, they did ask a few more questions intermittently as the morning progressed and I did overhear this sweet conversation:

Emmett: "Why is Annie going to die, Sissy?"
Micaiah [in her most sweet, heartfelt voice]: "Because she's sick. Sometimes people, and animals, get sick."
Emmett: "But they don't die."
Micaiah: "Sometimes they do."

I know we'll still be answering questions in the most unexpected moments, as kids are known to have, but for now I'm glad this early brush with death was slightly less traumatic than we'd feared.  If only I could promise them this would be the last time we'd ever have this conversation.

Sometimes life gets hard.  And sometimes it's even harder than that.

Here's to the girl who wore her heart on her fur.

1,000 Gifts:
1110. A chance to say good-bye
1111. Simple understandings of not-so-simple things
1112. Understanding care-takers
1113. The way Joey's head rests in my lap as he sucks his thumb, tired from playing 
1114. Singing lullabies
1115. Learning to play the piano as I teach her
1116. Listening to her read