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Here’s the song reference.

This morning found the girls and I sitting in the kitchen, after the morning calls to Grandma and Deedaw, after teeth and hair had been brushed, but before Mr. Man and Baby Guy made their snarky morning way up the stairs.  I had books spread across the table, and my trusty, yellow plastic, three-ring binder full of college ruled notebook paper open in front of me, with hundreds of pages covered in lesson plans written in black PaperMate ink.

Bugaboo and Beanie, surveying the pile of pages with sparkling eyes, cozied up to me, and Beanie hopefully inquired, “Mommy, is it time for us to start schoolwork, real schoolwork, again yet?  I really like schoolwork.  I like learning new things.  Can we have our new school year yet?”

I had told her and Bugaboo, when this question arose just over three weeks ago, that I needed a month to get everything together, whereupon Bugaboo helpfully informed me that would mean our new school year would start the first of August.  Still and all, while this year’s math texts have a little too much review in them, they contain a bounty of pages designed to improve numeric penmanship. Since they both need some work on forming their numbers properly, I grinned, pulled the books of the shelf with a flourish, and asked, “Would you settle for getting started with one new schoolbook until I get everything else together?”

“YES!”

I am surprised that the ensuing clatter of chairs did not awaken the boys. It certainly sent a disgruntled Bo shuffling into the living room to find a more peaceful napping venue.  Two new, glittery pencils through the sharpener later, and Bugaboo and Beanie were happily settled in at the table to practice writing their twos, threes, and fours, and to giggle over the exercises that required them to count to five – which, I should add, they completed anyway, just for the joy of showing off that they already KNEW the first few things in this math book.

They tired of practicing their number writing around the same time I came to a stopping point in my planning, so, after we stowed all of our books, we decided to take a few minutes to pray together.  We offered up our  prayers for all of the people who would need water and shelter from the day’s heat, for the people who were working to provide those essentials, and for gratitude that we do not lack them.  As we finished, Baby Guy and Mr. Man came snarking upstairs, looking for milk, food, hugs, kisses, and clean britches.  The boys settled in for peaches and French toast, the girls grabbed their jigsaw puzzle books, and the five of us sat companionably until the boys’ stomachs were sated to the point that they resumed their usual resemblance to perpetual motion machines.

That also happened to be the point at which they started plaguing Bugaboo and Beanie for access to their puzzle books, which the boys are absolutely not allowed to touch at this point.  To head off what appeared ready to become a battle royale, I sent them all into the living room to pull the little table and chairs out from under the couch, tore a handful of pages out of a coloring book, and tossed a box of crayons into a basket for easy sharing.  With great enthusiasm, I proclaimed it children’s coloring time, and strewed the table with the coloring pages as the four of them scrambled to unfold their little chairs, giggling as they went.  Bo took this opportunity to complain at me as he shambled back into the kitchen, his nap disturbed once again.

We have three small chairs and four small people, which generally means that child who lollygags ends up either standing at the table or using a full-sized folding chair at a half-sized table. Yesterday, Mr. Man was the odd man out, and his displeasure resulted in the particular sort of temper tantrum that deafens anyone within the blast radius.  Bugaboo, Beanie, and Baby Guy completely ignored him.  They were busy coloring (well, Baby Guy was busier trying to eat the crayons, really).  I pulled him aside and gave him his options, one of which involved using the big chair, on of which involved using his feet, one of which involved asking his siblings politely to switch chairs with him, and the last of which involved going downstairs to play by himself in his room.

He didn’t like any of those options.  I’m pretty sure the neighbors eight blocks away can confirm this.

Half an hour later, Mr. Man finally settled down, just as his siblings tired of coloring.  Bugaboo and Baby Guy headed off to go play with superhero action figures and trucks, and Mr. Man happily helped himself to Baby Guy’s chair, which had been the original object of his desire.  Beanie decided to stay at the table for a few more minutes, talking to her little brother and helping him find an unused coloring page.  When she got up to leave, he decided to accompany her instead of staying at the table by himself.  As the two of them decamped for the girls’ room to play with the dollhouse, I inquired, “Mr. Man, was it more fun to scream and yell by yourself, or to color with Beanie?”

“Color with Beanie.”

“Remember that, please.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for little blessings who rejoice in the new, even when it’s really something old or ordinary with a new cover or unmarked pages.  Please help me teach them that even if you’ve done a thing a thousand times, and can do an adequate job of it, practicing the talents and gifts You have given us until we perfect them gives honor and thanks to You.  Grant me the grace of mindfulness that no matter how badly I want to join in with what a group is doing, I should approach it, and them, with Your love in my heart instead of envy and wrath for the seemingly inferior seat I am offered at the table; let me show Your blessings that accepting the least of places joyfully makes me a vessel for Your greatness.

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