Here’s the song reference.
All the tiny people were awake and active before Manie left for work yesterday morning, a somewhat unusual happenstance, as the boys usually sleep until around 8:00. This posed certain logistical challenges, since I generally use the time between Manie’s departure and the boys’ awakening to make the morning phone calls in relative quiet. I’ve never been entirely certain exactly what it is about the appearance of a telephone at the side of my head that causes the volume dial in toddlers’ heads to automatically crank up to ten, but it’s always been the case. Perhaps one of the tiny people will become a neuroscientist and answer that one for me.
In any event, Grandma had a busy day on tap, so our call was short. Once she and I had finished our chat, Bugaboo and Beanie were ready to start their math lesson. Just as they settled in with their books and pencils, Deedaw called me before I could call her, as she had errands to run and wanted to get an earlier than usual start to her own day. We had just started to discuss Manie’s building project for this weekend when Baby Guy ambled into the kitchen, arms laden with toy cars and trucks.
The little fellow climbed up into his daddy’s chair at the kitchen table, as he often does during the day, and started to arrange his load on the table. Bugaboo and Beanie loudly complained at him, since he was shaking the table with the force of his parking the cars on the wood. Still talking with Deedaw, I started to gather up Baby Guy’s playthings and gently return them to the living room; we discourage the playing of Demolition Derby on the kitchen table during seatwork time. Mr. Man was having a morning romp with Smudgie in the back yard, having already devoured a waffle and about a quarter of a pound of cheese.
This turn of events greatly displeased Baby Guy, who alighted from his perch, stomped into the living room, loudly insisting upon the necessity of having toy motor vehicles in the kitchen as he went, wagging his wee finger at me and scowling as he intoned, “Babababad!” Deedaw, being on the other end of the phone line, could laugh. Apparently the audio of the scene made it pretty easy for her to get the visual.
We repeated our little dance, with Baby Guy slamming his toys onto the table and me gently gathering them and returning them to the other room. His complaints finally became so loud and continuous, and were so augmented by Beanie and Bugaboo’s warranted lament that the racket made it impossible for them to concentrate on solving math problems, that Deedaw and I agreed to cut our conversation short.
After hanging up the phone, I remonstrated with Baby Guy about the principle that if books are on the table, cars and trucks should not be, gave him a kiss on the head and a cup of milk for his hand, sat down at the table between our daughters, and opened up my laptop to order American Heritage Girls uniforms for Bugaboo and Beanie, figuring we should have at least ten minutes of peace.
This being the fourth time since 2009 we’ve had a two-year-old in the house, one might think I’d know better. However, our children come by their thick skulls honestly. As I typed in all the shipping information, Baby Guy returned to the kitchen, fire truck in hand, and proceeded to clamber back up into Manie’s chair, gleefully shrieking, “I da FIYUH CHEEF!” as he did so.
Beanie put her head down in her math book. Bugaboo started twirling her hair around her pencil, glowering alternately at her youngest brother and her mother.
“Baby Guy. This is schoolwork time. We cannot have trucks on the table during math lessons. Take it back into the living room please.”
His wee face crumpled, his little chest heaved, and he started to cry big, fat, sad tears as he wailed, “No wivig woom! Fiyuh cheef! Bump twucks on tabuh!”
I picked him and his fire truck up, set them both gently on the floor, and gave him a little pat on the back to indicate that he did, indeed, need to head for the other room. “Go on, sweetheart. We’ll be done soon, and then we can all play fire chiefs together.”
Baby Guy collapsed on the floor in a shuddering, sobbing, heap.
His sisters stared – not at him, but at me. No mathematical equations were being solved. The problem at hand only tangentially had anything to do with books.
“Hey, girls, put your pencils in your books and close them for a minute.” I scooped up Baby Guy and snuggled him against my chest. His tears made wet tracks down my shirt front as he tremblingly pushed his red face into my chest. “I think maybe Baby Guy is sad that he missed when we did our morning prayers. Would you mind if we did them again?”
Beanie jumped on that lifeboat with a cheerful, “That’s a great idea! There’s no such thing as too many prayers!”
I cradled Baby Guy’s little hands between mine as we repeated our morning devotions, feeling the hitches in his breathing slowly diminish, then stop, as he calmed in my embrace. The words of the prayers, and the promises they contained, washed over me, particularly “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” As we finished praying together, Baby Guy’s countenance having settled into a contented smile, I whispered into his hair, “I’m sorry, baby.”
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for the reminder that Your blessings inherited many traits from me, including the tendency to be a little thick-headed. Please grant me the grace to have as much patience with them as You have with me. Please open my eyes to their need for comfort and attention, and keep me mindful that however important whatever I’m ordering on the computer at that particular moment may seem to be, it pales when compared to the significance of spending that same time with one of Your little blessings. Engrave it upon my heart, Lord, that what may appear to be an inconvenience is, in Your eyes, an opportunity for me to teach Your blessings that love means my to-do list can wait.