The final countdown


Here’s the song reference.

The tribe slept in a little yesterday morning, which I attribute to the later sunrise times of late August.  Mr. Man was, once again, the last one to the kitchen for breakfast; by the time he arrived on the scene, Baby Guy had already hauled a fire truck onto the kitchen table, and Beanie and Bugaboo were just about done with their seatwork for the morning.  Beanie, for the record, is setting the world of first-grade math afire, and is on track to start second-grade math before the end of September.  Bugaboo has finally gotten it through her head that she, too, can let her natural math aptitude run wild, and is now racing to catch up with Beanie.  My criterion is strict; they must get at least 90% of any given exercise right on the first attempt, and be able to correct it to 100% accuracy.  If they’re going to accelerate, I cannot have any margin for error when it comes to assessing their skills – but I digress.

Upon his arrival into the kitchen, Mr. Man tugged open the refrigerator door that generally holds his cup of milk (I fill four cups before any of them awaken, so if I’m otherwise occupied, each child can at least sit down with a cup of milk until I can get food that constitutes acceptable breakfast fare in front of him or her), fumbled his cup out of the caddy, then turned to me with a hopeful grin.

“Mommy, I see biscuits.  Can I cook some biscuits, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease?”

Every so often, I’ll buy a can of refrigerated biscuits – the really cheap kind.  They’re sort of my emergency lunch plan, since I can throw just about anything on top of or in the middle of a little biscuit and have it deemed positively ambrosial by the tiny people; while I prefer to bake my own, there are those days when time is short and appetites are large.  It doesn’t hurt that I happen to like them, too.

“Sure, why not, Mr. Man.  You get the can out and put it on the table.  Make sure you don’t put it down near Baby Guy, please.”

As Mr. Man clapped and chortled over his gastronomic victory, I got down the faithful ceramic pie plate, incubator of many a batch of canned biscuits, and turned on the oven.  Turning from those tasks, I turned to see a grinning Mr. Man waving the blue cardboard tube triumphantly.  “I got da biscuits out now, Mommy!  Now YOU have to make it go POP!”

I do believe that one of the kids’ favorite things about canned biscuits is the little explosion when the tube is breached.  Mr. Man joined me in a shouted countdown before the biscuits made their obligatory racket, then settled into his chair to arrange the biscuit dough in the pan.  As he worked, he glanced at the stove, where the timer was counting down the minutes and seconds until the appliance finished preheating.

Mr. Man loves numbers and counting, and he will count any object or read any number in sight.  The sight of the numbers ticking slowly backwards was irresistible to him, and he turned his gaze to me, eyes full of wonder, and inquired, “What’s that, Mommy?  Is not a timer, biscuits are still here, not in the oven.”

“Actually, big dude, that is a timer.  It’s the timer that tells us when the oven will be hot enough to cook the biscuits.”  As I offered my explanation, the time remaining crossed into “under a minute” territory.  “When the third number goes away, it means there’s less than a minute left, and we can count down the seconds until the oven is ready to bake.  See?  Fifty-four, fifty-three, fifty-two . . .”

Mr. Man was awestruck by this new discovery, and joined in the countdown.  “Fifty, forty-nine, forty-eight . . .”

It’s not that I didn’t have a thousand things to do yesterday morning, but I don’t know that any of them would have given me the joy that counting down forty-eight seconds of a day with Mr. Man did.  At around the twenty second mark, Bugaboo and Beanie joined in what had become a singsong chant of backwards counting.  I was almost sorry when the stove beeped to signal the end of the preheat cycle.

“Timer dinged, Mommy, you set the timer and it’s done now, can we cook the biscuits now, the oven is ready!”

“Well, we could, but we were having so much fun counting we forgot to finish putting the biscuits in the pan!  Here, let me help you.  Remember, we make a circle with them, with two in the middle, and make sure they’re all touching so they can snuggle up to each other while they bake.”

“Yeah, we make a BIIIIIIIIIIIG CIRCLE!”

august 2013 016 august 2013 014 august 2013 012 august 2013 011

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for reminding me seconds of time matter, and an instant can loom large in the eyes of a child. Thank you for the opportunity to teach Your blessings time can pass joyfully, and even waiting can be a happy task if we choose to make it so.  Please grant us the wisdom to recognize that while we know neither the hour or the day, You call us to rejoice in each moment of each day You grant us, and the grace to never become so busy we are unable to recognize the small miracles of children learning.

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