Tag Archive | redemption

Not quite right

One topic of conversation that never fails to generate lots of laughter at our parish moms’ group is the hilarity that often accompanies growing vocabularies. Kids really do say the funniest things, and the reason they are funny is because the children uttering the slightly askew words or phrases are completely innocent of the meanings of their mispronunciations.  Heaven knows our tribe has had, and continues to have, its share of anguished English, with occasionally uproarious results.  For example, all of our children have had a dreadful time properly pronouncing the word, “sit,” which is unfortunate because that’s quite the oft-spoken word around here.  So far, Bugaboo, Beanie, and Baby Guy have all managed to holler, “shit, shit SHIT,” at a sibling who refused to remain seated in a chair or shopping cart.  It is, I believe, a law of nature that small children will only do this when there is a large crowd of people present, each member of which is ready to extend a glower at the (apparently) cursing child.

Mr. Man’s current bon mot is “snake” for steak, while one of his buddies has finally mastered the pronunciation of “truck.”  Bugaboo, who has always loved to sing, used to proudly belt out “Jesus Wants Me for a Zombie” to any audience, and Beanie once reduced the entire checkout section at Wegmans to helpless laughter by pointing to those helium-filled objects that are the objects of most small children’s desire and loudly asking, “Mommy, wan’ some big boobs pease?”  I will never forget the sweet, octogenarian lady who turned to my little girl with a merry smile and said, “Sweetie, so do I.”  Then there was Bugaboo, who strikes up conversations with anyone who stops to say hello when we go shopping, responding to the question of an elderly gentleman who inquired of her what she was helping Mommy find at the big store one day with, “My Daddy needs some new panties.  He uses the potty, you know.”

Then there was the beat-all that emanate from Beanie.  My stock answer to the “I wants” used to be, “Hey, Mommy wants a Maserati, but that’s not happening either.”  One day, Beanie was striking out on all fronts with her “I wants,” and when I employed my standard reply, she burst into tears, wailing,  “I don’ WANNA mommysnotty!”  It took me almost ten minutes to compose myself enough to call my husband to relay that one.

Mr. Man is a huge fan of all the Bill Martin, Jr. books.  The example above is the only one that still has a photographable cover.  After a dinner that involved four pasta-coated faces, followed by a rowdy hour in the yard, Mr. Man wandered upstairs, grabbed a stack of books, and clambered into my lap for some storytime.  I absolutely love that he calls Baby Guy over to join him when he decides it’s time to read.  At any rate, we read through several of his favorite board books; when we had finished his initial selections, Mr. Man meandered back to the bookshelf to choose a couple more, since he didn’t have to take turns with his sisters and Baby Guy hasn’t yet figured out how to crawl while carrying a book.  Seizing his favorite (and the best-known, I suspect) Bill Martin title, he ran back to me, waving his trophy in the air and merrily shouting, “BOOM CHICKA WOW WOW BOOM CHICKA WOW WOW!”

I couldn’t help it.  I laughed so hard tears squirted out of my eyes.  When I recovered myself, two little boys were sitting in front of me, staring at me with puzzled smiles on their faces.  Gathering both boys and the book into my lap, I started up a rhythmic chant of “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” until Mr. Man was saying it correctly and clapping his hands to the beat — which had the bonus effect of getting him to clap his hands every time the phrase “chicka chicka boom boom” came up in the book as we read.

It occurs to me that moments like those are the ones the Lord sends to remind us that teaching and learning are both pretty enjoyable if I have the right attitude, and that the proper response to making and correcting errors is taking the moment to recognize the humor in our mistakes.

Incidentally, I’d love to read any stories of mangled language any of you care to share.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for laughter, for Your blessings who are learning to speak, and for the abundance of ways You have provided for them to learn new words through books, music, and playing with friends.  Remind me to always keep a light heart when correcting them for even serious errors, and to teach them to enjoy the moment of levity when they realize a mistake.  Please, Lord, teach me to enjoy that same brief laugh when I err, as I often do, and to make my corrections with good humor and gratitude for the opportunity to fix my errors, so Your blessings will see that, while we’d rather not make mistakes, we will because we are not You, and You will grant us to wisdom to laugh at our own folly if we ask it of You.

Bubbling up

As regular readers of this blog know, lessons don’t always go according to plan — and that often, what the Lord has in mind is more effective than what I had written in my notebook.  I’ve been trying to get Bugaboo to try assignments that challenge her, and that I’m pretty sure she’ll only get about half right, so that she will learn that there is merit in making mistakes and learning from the process of correcting her errors.  She has a habit of getting a mulish little look on her face and saying she just can’t do it without help.  Since we have four children, this is problematic, because I absolutely cannot sit right next to her for the entire duration of her academic work and hold her hand.

Yesterday, one of her assignments involved a page covered with bubbles, each of which contained a number.  She was to color numbers 1-25 red, 26-50 orange, 51-75 yellow, and 76-100 blue.  Since I was still in the middle of morning check-in calls when she got to that particular task, I helped her read the instructions and asked her to try her best to complete it.  Fortunately, I received a welcome assist from Deedaw (with whom I was on the phone at the time), who told Bugaboo  she was sure she could get at least half of them right.  I have to remember that “I’m sure you’ll get at least half of them right” line — it erases the “not gonna” line that often furrows our eldest daughter’s brow!

As it happened, she didn’t quite get half of them right on the first try, but she did at least attempt every one, and she only used the four colors called for in the instructions.  I went over the assignment with her and marked all the correct bubbles with little check marks (it’s a philosophical thing — I’d rather give her the visual reminder of what she’s done right than what she’s done wrong).  Bugaboo promptly asked me to tell her the correct colors for the unmarked bubbles.  I declined, but explained that I would give her some help.  In the same math workbook, there is a grid with the numbers 1-100.  After tabbing that page with a sticky note, I outlined the number groups with the appropriate colors, put another sticky note on the page with the bubbles, and showed her she could use the sticky note to quickly flip back and forth to check her answers.

The “not gonna” line started to darken Bugaboo’s forehead, so I paused in my instructions, knelt beside her chair, and asked her if she remembered the story of the prodigal son.  She told me she did, and I asked her if the son had made mistakes.  She said he had, and I asked her if he did his best to fix his mistake.  She said he had.  I explained to her that just as the errant son had to admit a big mistake and do what he could to fix it, we make little mistakes every day and do what we can to fix them.  Bugaboo replied, “You mean like when you tried to slice the bread with a spoon and then had to go get a knife?”

I replied, “It’s exactly like that.  And what I learned from that is that I need to watch what I’m doing when I put my hand in the silverware drawer.”  With a little, “oh!” Bugaboo started flipping pages.  I checked her for the first couple of corrections, then asked her to tell me when she had done two more, then three more, and before long, she had the whole thing fixed; we did a good amount of giggling along the way, and making fishy noises when she got one right (because Tot’s favorite thing to do is blow bubbles).  We talked a little longer afterwards, and I’m optimistic that she got the point that every error we make is a gift, because it gives us the opportunity to grow in both knowledge and wisdom.

Baby Guy wore out just from watching his oldest sister’s hard work.  Yes, this is a completely gratuitous photo of a sleeping baby.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, Your apostle, Paul, exhorted the Colossians, “whatever your work is, put your heart into it as done for the Lord and not for human beings, knowing that the Lord will repay you by making you His heirs (Col  3:23-24).”  Thank You for those apostles, who risked their earthly lives to make sure Your Good News would survive, for their hard work and their staunch faith.  Thank You for the book of love letters you left for us, to encourage and instruct us, and for Your blessings, who listen to Your parables and draw wisdom from them.  You instructed the little children to come to You, Lord, and when we read Your parables, we are drawing them near to You, for You are wiser than we.  Help me raise children who, when faced with difficult or tedious tasks, joyfully dedicate their labors to You — and please, Lord, mold me into an example I’d want them to follow.