Here’s the song reference.
All four members of the tribe have had to learn a little more patience than I’d like lately, as I’ve needed to be on the phone for extended periods of time with Deedaw, Grandma, and the many friends who have humbled me with their generous offers of assistance with munchkin-minding and meals. Bugaboo and Beanie have risen to the occasion in grand and lovely style, and have started to show much more responsibility for their playthings and the house in general. It’s been far less of a war getting them to pick up their toys, even when Baby Guy cheerily dumps their ponies, Transformers, dolls and Care Bears out of their bins and throws them around randomly until he finds something that makes noise, and they have been very generous with their hugs and “I love yous” to every member of the family.
As for Manie and I, we have worried over balancing the lessons they’re learning from these past couple of months, and from what they will learn in the days and months to come. It’s important to us that they understand that this is what love looks like when the people who brought us into this world are near the end of their earthly days, but it’s equally important that they not develop the impression that they, themselves, are an inconvenience during such times as these, but great and beautiful blessings (even when they insist on having train-whistle concerts while I’m on the phone). We’ve made an extra effort to praise every small good deed, from Beanie remembering to tear the toilet paper off the roll before she uses it, to Mr. Man drinking his milk from a straw cup without launching any of it onto the ceiling, to Bugaboo remembering to ask before she takes things off the kitchen counter, even to Baby Guy putting stray blocks back in their bag without being asked.
I’ve been trying to grant Bugaboo and Beanie some small extra privileges, since they’ve taken on more responsibilities. It’s tough to keep those privileges age-appropriate and meaningful at the same time, and I had to draw the line at either of them doing crafts involving scissors without an adult being physically in the vicinity, but they’ve enjoyed being able to take showers instead of baths, lead prayers at mealtimes, and go into the pantry to select their own snacks (although they have lamented that the really good stuff is out of their reach).
One privilege both girls have long sought is being allowed to wear a particular kind of slipper, called Stompeez. Regular readers of this blog are aware that we have a very large dog who hasn’t quite left his puppyhood behind (in addition to our sweet and elderly Bo, who’s no slouch in the size department himself). Until recently, Bugaboo and Beanie had been pretty slack about making sure their toys were secured behind their closed bedroom door before we head off for whatever adventure a day may hold, with the result that more than a few ponies, bears, dolls, and stuffed animals became Smudgie’s toys, to the often tearful dismay of our daughters. In a quiet moment, I realized that I haven’t had to remind them to get their playthings out of the living room in a couple of weeks. A couple of hours later, I was picking up a few things at a local pharmacy when I saw two pairs of the sought-after footgear, both in the girls’ size, in the sale bin.
We gave them quite the heartfelt speech about how proud we are of how responsible they’ve become when we gave the slippers to them on Monday night, clarifying that these were not a Christmas present, but a privilege they’d earned by their conduct. The speech in no way diminished their utter delight at having “real big girl slippers,” which they carefully stow inside their closet any time they’re not wearing them.
While I was on the phone for an extended round of calls yesterday morning, the girls entertained Mr. Man and Baby Guy by parading around their house in their Stompeez, delighting Baby Guy in particular when the puppies played peekaboo with him (if you don’t know what Stompeez are, do click the link above, but don’t let your kids see or you’ll never hear the end of it). I took a purposeful break from the telephone around 9:00; no one had eaten a proper breakfast yet and I needed a break, since I’d been running since a little past 5 a.m. Upon hearing the sound of the kitchen phone being returned to its cradle, Bugaboo and Beanie piled into the kitchen to see what might be coming next in our morning.
I inquired, “What would you like for breakfast this morning, ladies? Thank you for being so kind and helpful while I was on the phone.”
The girls looked at each other for a moment, then Bugaboo piped up, “I want pancakes!’
That sounded pretty reasonable to me. “Okay, pancakes it shall be, then.”
Beanie had a further suggestion. “I want PINK pancakes!”
Bugaboo heartily agreed, “Yeah, pink pancakes, pink pancakes!”
Mr. Man and Baby Guy heard the commotion and came in to investigate its source, and in short order, I had three small people gleefully jumping up and down chanting, “pink pancakes,” two of them with pink puppy ears popping around their ankles, and a fourth clapping his hands and shrieking to his siblings’ rhythm. Laughing, I pulled the makings of pancakes from the pantry, retrieved the pink icing tint from the spice cupboard, and set about pancakery. A good breakfast was had by all.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for our full pantry and our full hearts. Thank You for little blessings who have the usual number of feet and hands, and who delight in being children. Thank You for the grace and wisdom to know the needs of their little hearts and souls, even as we look through the dark glass of our own trials, and for the many friends through whom You have shown us Your comforting face. Please keep our hearts soft and open to them and to the grace You send us through them, and grant that we may not forget that Your first and greatest commandment is to love You with all our heart, soul, and strength. In our moments of weakness, when we are tempted to surrender to anger and despair, let us turn to You and accept the help You send with grateful and humble hearts.