One of the more challenging parts of being a mom is mastering the art of not laughing. I can’t speak for anyone else’s blessings, but our children are completely hilarious, usually without meaning to be. On any given day, at least one of them is bound to do something that sends me scurrying out of the room so that I do not encourage repeat performances of whatever just happened.
Bugaboo and Beanie, our daughters, are rather protective of their room, since it houses all of their “big girl” toys; the toys in question are the ones with a million little tiny parts, like Strawberry Shortcake, Zoobles, and My Little Pony playsets. However, both of them very much enjoy being able go into their brothers’ room and play with all the baby and toddler toys (for which, I might add, they deemed themselves too mature until said toys moved into the boys’ room). Thus, we have a house rule, to wit: if you want to go into your siblings’ room and play with their stuff, you have to let the same siblings come into your room to play, and if there is stuff with which they should not play, you would be well advised to put it in the storage drawer under your bed, which is where each child stores the toys she or he is not required to share. Got that? Good.
Yesterday morning, Beanie and Bugaboo were having a lovely time playing Strawberry Zooble Pony Shortcake. Part of this game involved rolling Zoobles like bowling balls into the Strawberry Shortcake dolls, whereupon Fluttershy from My Little Pony would remonstrate with the Zoobles about the importance of being kind to one’s playmates. If I had video of this, I would post it; however, since at that point I had no need to conceal my amusement, I wasn’t really inclined to leave the room long enough to grab a camera. After a few minutes, though, Mr. Man started calling from the kitchen table, as he had finished his morning Cheerios and was ready to explore the chaos-causing potentials of the day.
I let him down from his high chair, checked Baby Guy to make sure he wasn’t log-rolling close to the steps and hadn’t manager to get himself stuck under the living room furniture, and started what seems like the Sisyphean task of cleaning the kitchen table.
Shortly after I had secured my washrag and soap, I heard a wail coming from the girls’ room that had the particular vocal character of a little boy who has just been mistreated by his sisters. Now, Mr. Man’s definition of “mistreatment” has been known to include such things as his sisters not giving him their Oreos after he has eaten his own, so further investigation was necessary on my part. I called out, “Okay, what just happened in there?”
Bugaboo, ever the helpful eldest child, shouted back, “Mommy, Beanie just shoved Mr. Man, and he fell down. He was trying to open a Zooble.” Well, at least my fears of a hitherto-unknown stash of Oreos were allayed, but now I had to repeat the often-heard instructions about how to treat other people, especially smaller people. Into the combat zone I marched.
Mr. Man flung himself, sobbing, at my knees. I gave him the quick check to make sure his limbs, hair, and teeth were all accounted for, smoothed his hair, kissed his forehead, and wrapped him up in a hug, then turned my attention to Beanie. “Beanie, did you shove your brother?”
“Yep.” She was gathering her Zoobles into the middle of a protective circle of Happytats. She will be my military tactician.
I got down on one knee. After all, every good source of parenting advice tells you that if you want to talk to a child, you should get down to the child’s eye level. “Beanie, we’ve talked about this before. Is it ever okay to put your hands on someone just because they want to play with your toys?”
This beautiful child, with her enormous brown eyes and her tousle of brown curls, looked up and favored me with a thousand-watt smile, then gave me her singsong reply . . .
“It is no-o-o-w!”
You know, my mother and mother-in-law are genuinely patient women. I have lost track of the number of times I have grabbed the phone and locked myself in the bathroom, gasping with laughter as I dialed one of their numbers to relate a tale, and choking out, “Help . . . I can’t laugh . . . it’s not funny!”
Today’s prayer: Lord, I thank You for blessings who have a sense of humor, and use it liberally. Thank You for the laughter which brightens my days, even if it does sometimes make teaching them how to treat other people a bit of a challenge. Lord, I would ten times rather have to control my laughter before dealing with childish misdeeds than have to quell my anger. Thank You for children who are generally good, bright enough to understand how You expect them to treat their brothers and sisters, and who are unstinting in the hugs and kisses they offer in their apologies to one another. Please, can You help me learn to apologize, and forgive, as easily as they do? I’m beginning to understand what Your Son meant by “the faith of a child.”