Don’t hand me no lines and keep your hands to yourself


Here’s the song reference.

Bugaboo and Beanie both awoke on the pugilistic sides of their beds yesterday, which made for something of an eventful morning.  Nothing either of our daughters did made the other happy, and there was a great deal of complaining along the lines of “she did this,” and “she said that.” This is slightly nerve-wracking on a normal day, but on a morning when Deedaw is in the hospital (for the record, if you have a stomach bug that lasts more than three days, call a doctor), it’s positively maddening.

After the morning phone calls were finished and all four tiny people had eaten breakfast, it was time to go to the farm to pick up our week’s share of produce.  Since yesterday brought a sullen rain and ominous skies, we did not  have recourse to our usual Wednesday diversion of playing on the farm, which usually de-escalates the tension between Bugaboo and Beanie.  Bugaboo prefers to hang out in the playhouse pretending to be a baking talent fairy, while Beanie prefers to play in the sandbox.

As we drove towards the farm, I could hear them in the back of the van, arguing over what kinds of clouds filled the sky, whether they were rain clouds or the innocently lovely kind, whether that small patch of sky was a hint of blue to come or just a bluish cloud, whether there would still be clouds when we arrived at the farm.  It was one of those funny arguments where each girl took both sides of the argument — as soon as one got the other to concede the point, she immediately assumed the opposite position in the debate.  I’m hoping this presages great accomplishments for both of them in forensics.  Yesterday, it reminded me of the parable about children arguing in the marketplace.

I must admit I was hoping that the disputes in the van would get the argumentative spirit out of them; sometimes, if they can just spend a half hour disagreeing with each other, they remember that they actually do like each other and work on finding ways to play together, so I limited my intercessions to gentle reminders about appropriate tone of voice.  They seemed to be recovering from their discordant moods on the way home, so I started a spelling game with them on the way back.  The game’s very simple, really — start with a two-letter combination like “ab” and run through the alphabet, asking, “So how would you spell ‘cab?’  What about ‘dab?'”  Bugaboo is an expert at it, Beanie sometimes chimes in, and Mr. Man parrots.  It’s a fun time-passer while driving, and if you’re not driving, you can add in the ASL signs for the letters or write the letters in the air with a finger while you’re doing it.

I could see Beanie writing letters in the air with her finger in the rear view mirror, but she opted not to call out the letters.  This gave offense to Bugaboo, who stridently informed me, “Mommy, Beanie’s not playing!  She’s not saying any of the letters. She’s making me do it ALL BY MYSELF!”  Stifling a chuckle, I reminded her that sometimes Beanie learns by listening to her big sister, as do Mr. Man and Baby Guy, and that one of Bugaboo’s frequent complaints that morning had been that Beanie kept interrupting her.  “So, sweetheart, do you think maybe she was paying attention when you said it made you mad when she talked at the same time as you?”

“No.  She just wants me to have to say all the letters myself.”
“Hm.  Well, do you want to keep playing anyway?”
“Yes, I do.  But Beanie should help play the game.”
“We’ll see what happens.  How do you spell ‘jab?'”

You know, I  should have chosen a different letter combination yesterday.  I saw Beanie’s hand dart sideways in the rearview mirror, then kept my eyes riveted to the road before me as Bugaboo shrieked at her younger sister.  Mr. Man’s giggling made it even harder to concentrate on driving.  Beanie, of course, had chosen to demonstrate the word rather than spell it.

“You can’t say I didn’t play with you no-o-o-o-w!”

Once I had choked back my laughter, I reminded Beanie that the automotive version of the spelling game involves saying or writing the letters, not acting out the words.  Fortunately, we were stopped at a red light when she responded, “But you said it was okay to use our fingers.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for four little blessings who are sound of body and nimble of mind.  Please help me teach them that You would have us dwell joyfully with one another, and to play kindly with one another.  There are such things as arguments that nobody wins, and that leave everyone dissatisfied and angry.  Help me teach them to save the fighting for things that are of true and lasting importance, and even then, to do it with love for You and for each other uppermost in their hearts and minds.

And Lord, please send Deedaw Your healing mercy.

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