Not long ago, an old friend of my husband’s expressed his utter surprise that we have four children. In response to his thunderstruck query, I sent him a photo and the flippant reply, “See? Four!” Later, I remarked to that same friend, who is a veteran of the armed forces, that C4 is rather an accurate description of our tribe; they may be small, but pack more explosive power than a trailerful of old-fashioned dynamite.
My husband and I are always entertained by the morning fireworks of our four tiny people. Each of them has his or her own very distinctive style of awakening. Bugaboo is nearly always the first one up; she bounds out of the girls’ room, usually pantsless (she hates to sleep in pants because they catch on her fleece blanket), very excited to tell us what she wants to have for breakfast and do for the day. She bounces around the kitchen, collecting hugs, kisses, and a cup of milk before literally jumping into her chair at the kitchen table and inquiring whether there are any chocolate chip waffles.
Beanie, usually the second one of the children to be mobile, is rather the opposite of her big sister; we have long suspected that she would happily sleep until much later in the day if Bugaboo could be slightly quieter about greeting the day before she slams the door of the girls’ room behind her. Our resident human-powered-rocket-test-pilot-in-training generally shambles down the hallway, fists rubbing her eyes underneath the tumble of her tousled bangs, bumping into the walls at intervals, then trudges to her chair in the kitchen, flumps into it, and proceeds to stare morosely at the table. She wants no breakfast and no beverage, but invariably, after a few minutes of hostile blinking at the kitchen light, lets out a piteous moan to inform us that she lacks Pez.
Mr. Man and Baby Guy generally awaken together — well, the first one awake rousts the other one by setting off any musical toy his hands can reach. We have, via the baby monitor, been serenaded by Scout, listened to the soothing sussurrus of the ocean, and listened to a recitation of the colors of the rainbow. Of course, on some special mornings, the boys announce their arrival into the waking world with near-simultaneous, ear-splitting shrieks of displeasure that something interesting is going on upstairs, while they are lacking the basic niceties of bottle and sippy cup. The dogs, on those mornings, generally run to the back door, looking to escape the awful noise.
At any rate, once someone springs him from his crib, Mr. Man slurps quietly on his milk and surveys the boys’ room, looking to see is any of his toys look interesting enough to cause him to delay going upstairs in search of breakfast. He is very solemn first thing in the morning, and quiet; when I pick up Baby Guy and settle into the rocker to feed him, Mr. Man usually sidles over, gently pats his baby brother’s leg, then pads upstairs in search of Cheerios and, if he’s lucky, some pineapple or raisins. The first sound we hear from him after he gets his morning sippy cup is the piercing yowl of protest when it’s time to change his diaper (another sound that causes the canine contingent to head for the hills). It may amuse you to know that the only way to soothe Mr. Man during a diaper change is to sing “Your Personal Penguin” to him (if you have never heard the song, do click the link).
Baby Guy, upon waking, is a smiling bundle of snuggles; it is sometimes a challenge to get him to eat because he is so busy smiling his big, toothless grin, a grin that crinkles his entire face in fat, cheery lines. He squishes himself as tightly to me as he possibly can, and makes a little game of prying one of my fingers off his bottle, twirling it in a circle, then laughing around his bottle. As soon as he’s had all he wants to eat, he wants his floor time, so that he can practicing his emergent army-crawling and barrel-rolling skills. At least one friend of ours has described Baby Guy as “the most ridiculously happy baby I have ever seen,” and she is correct. He is constantly cheery, unless he’s hungry, stinky, or tired — and even then, he is judicious is his complaints about the service in our establishment.
This morning began much as most others, with Bugaboo bounding excitedly into the kitchen, Beanie shambling morosely after a few minutes later. Today, though, when Bugaboo saw Beanie trudging into the kitchen with downcast eyes and a throughly sour expression on her sleepy face, our oldest daughter ran to her little sister, hugged her tightly, then planted a kiss on her forehead before skipping back to her chair, calling, “I love you!” over her shoulder. The effect this had on Beanie was nothing startling, no trumpets blaring or angels singing, but she shuffled over to her own chair with a teasing hint of smile playing around the corners of her mouth. She was calmer today, and decidedly more willing to share her toys. She even offered Bugaboo one of her goldfish, and tonight, at bedtime, she gave her big sister a hug and a kiss, both unbidden.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for little blessings who, some days, teach me what I preach to them. Our oldest daughter reminded me today that no matter what conflicts I may have with people throughout the day, if I greet them and part with them by showing Your agape love to them, it’s more likely that we’ll find a way to get along with each other. Please remind me of this when I am tempted to take pride in my ability to snap off a cutting remark, instead of letting Your love work through my lips — or typing fingers. Your love is greater than my wittiness.