This morning dawned grey and rainy, so our playgroup remained indoors today. Fortunately, one of the moms brought a couple of riding toys, and we had a new mom with her baby twins today, so there was plenty of excitement to be had for our midget minions, and abundant good conversation among the moms. Fisticuffs were kept to a minimum, and, since every baby had a lap when he or she wanted one, we had a lovely, relaxing couple of hours of fellowship. Every mom should be so blessed, to have a playgroup like ours.
While we were thus diverting ourselves, the skies cleared and another clear, sunny afternoon greeted us. Although our backyard was a bit marshy, it was sufficiently warm for me to accede to the tribe’s request for afternoon outdoor playtime. A little mud never hurt anyone, and Smudgie and Bo are considerate enough to leave their land mines in out-of-the-way corners, generally.
Bugaboo has entered that phase of girlhood where she wants to wear dresses constantly (my own mother assures me that even I went through that stage), so she traipsed outside in her red sweaterdress and black boots with furry lining. Of all our children, she is the only one with a prissy streak, so I suppose her semi-hysterical re-entry into the house shouldn’t have come as any great surprise.
“Mommy, I have MUD ON MY DRESS!”
Looking up from the article I’d been reading, I saw that there was, in fact, a speck of mud approximately the size of Baby Guy’s pinky nail on the cuff of one of her sleeves.
“BEANIE AND MR. MAN PUT IT ON ME!”
Some time ago, I posted about not laughing, because it’s not funny . . . I had a moment of deep regret that I chose a v-necked sweatshirt today, and thus could not rapidly drop the lower half of my face into my clothing. My traumatized preschooler stood, stricken, before me, her swollen face nearly matching the hue of her dress, tears streaking the (more abundant) dirt on her face (remember Newt from Aliens?), chest heaving, and I was busily chewing on the inside of my face to stifle even the semblance of a smile.
“I NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS DRESS! I NEED A BATH!”
“Bugaboo, you are welcome to put on a clean shirt and wash your hands and face. We’re having dinner soon anyway, so that’s probably a good idea. Do you need help finding a clean shirt?”
More hysterics. Screaming, crying, crumpling to the floor, asserting that her pretty dress was ruined, arms flailing, feet stomping, dogs and cats living together — oops, sorry, wrong movie genre. You get the idea. If you have, or have spent time with, kids, you have a pretty good mental picture at this point.
I have been valiantly, albeit unsuccessfully, attempting to instruct Bugaboo and Beanie in the concept of “proportionate response.” This is a difficult idea for a preschooler to understand, but the general gist is that it’s unwise to scream bloody murder over having a speck of mud on the cuff of one’s sleeve. It’s almost a given that we will go through this at least once, per child, per day. Mr. Man has turned in some truly Oscar-worthy dramatic performances over the loss of a cracker crumb. While it may seem a little callous, my approach to overly dramatic responses to ridiculously small problems is to ask if the overreactor is bleeding or missing limbs, then to explain to whichever child is temporarily insane that their behavior would be appropriate for those situations, but not the current one. After that, I usually suggest responses that would be more constructive (in this case, going to the sink to wash the speck from her sleeve with a washcloth or a wipe).
Whether Mr. Man and Beanie actually, with malice aforethought, put a speck of mud on Bugaboo’s cuff, I could not say. Probably not; they’re not usually mean little kids, and the more usual circumstance is that when untoward things happen to my darling oldest daughter, she immediately blames her younger siblings for it. In this case, she did calm down after she got a clean shirt and a big plate of pasta. It’s comforting to know she’s still at an age where spaghetti can fix what ails her.
Today’s prayer: Lord, You teach us to be slow to anger and slow to take offense. Help me teach Your blessings to spare their indignation for the occasions when they are confronted with real evils, instead of minor inconveniences. Your Son bore immeasurable persecution and suffering for the sake of teaching us about love, forgiveness, and Your infinite mercy. I need to show them patience so they will learn it for the days when they face trials of genuine consequence.
And, Lord, thank You for four blessings with healthy lungs, limbs, and brains. Help me teach them to use them to glorify You and Your ways.