Bugaboo and Beanie are both big fans of Roger Hargreaves’ “Little Miss” series, and since the books are quite inexpensive, I periodically order a few to add to their library; usually, I tuck them into the top shelf of the bookcase in their room and await the squeals of delight when they’re discovered. Today, while Mr. Man and Baby Guy were napping, I invited the girls to bring me some stories and we could have a special “big girls only” storytime.
As it happened, this was the magical day when they realized Little Miss Princess, Little Miss Giggles, and Little Miss Sunshine were the newest members of their formidable book collection. Two delightedly chortling little girls came pelting over to the couch, their treasures in hand, and tried to simultaneously leap into my lap. Since they are both over three feet tall now, this resulted in a fairly spectacular mid-air collision and subsequent thudding to the floor of a tangle of flailing arms and legs.
Once we sorted out all the body parts and ascertained that the worst injuries were to their dignities, the three of us snuggled up on one couch cushion to enjoy a little lighthearted reading. We saved Little Miss Sunshine for last; Beanie has been asking for that one for some time, as that is one of my nicknames for her. It also happened to be the one out of three stories I had never read.
I will not ruin the story for those of you who have not read it, but there’s a salient line that the King of Miseryland utters near the end of the book, to wit: “But I don’t know how to be happy! I’ve never tried it!”
Well, now. I went through a period of my life where I wasn’t trying to be happy. I was trying to find reasons to take offense, reasons to be angry, reasons to resent and to hate and to blame. For that matter, I still have days when I do that. Being happy really is a choice, and I put the book’s lesson to good use later in the day when Bugaboo was rebelling against her math assignment. She exclaimed, in a wretched tone, “I’m very unhappy!” I gently replied, with the ghost of a smile in my voice, “I’m sorry you’re so unhappy. Have you tried being happy? You have a nice sturdy kitchen table, good schoolbooks, a freshly sharpened pencil, and Mommy right here to help you if you have a question. Plus, the backyard is waiting for you as soon as you’re done.”
That earned me a sour little scowl, but she did the assignment, and was giggling at it (she had to draw 20 arrows on a target) by the time she was halfway through. After she had finished, she cheerfully claimed a hug and kiss from me before cavorting off to join Beanie in ravaging the clover population in the back yard before supper.
Today’s prayer: Lord, You’ve been making it pretty obvious lately that You choose what messengers You will. For many years, I disregarded those You sent to remind me that I can choose joy at any moment, and reject it at any moment. Help me teach Your blessings that we can bear even irksome tasks with a happy heart, or choose to listen to Your adversary’s exhortations to resentment and anger. Thank You for Your reminders, for Your blessings, for my soul that chooses to sing so loudly my mouth must repeat the song.