Grateful

“I’m going to visit Ms. Wendy this weekend,” I told him as we sat on his bed, straightening up his room a little.

And he looked at me, eyes wide and then downturned. “But I’m going to miss you!” he cried, tears instantly streaming down his face.

I hugged him tight reminding him that our time away would not be long.

“I know,” he interrupted, having already calculated the time. “It’s two days. But I’m going to miss you.”

“I’ll miss you, too,” I said and kissed his head.

And I felt grateful, so grateful for this little boy who lives with his heart wide open, who’s not afraid to show every emotion he’s feeling (regardless of whether or not I want to see every emotion he’s feeling).

And I’m grateful for his daddy who will watch three little ones without protest, knowing I need this time away, knowing how important it is to me.

And I’m grateful for a Nana and Pop Pop who will make one day pass quicker with Chick-Fil-A and cow costumes and sleeping bags.

I have so much for which to be grateful.

And today, I’m especially grateful for a friendship, a friendship which spans both joy and sorrow. A friendship which no distance can sever.

For what are you grateful? Linking up with the Gypsy Mama for her 5 Minute Friday before I head out for the weekend.

 

 

The Crazy Old Bat and Birthday Presents

The family gathered round the old woman in the now familiar den. She sat shoulders haunched over in her wheelchair in between the two green couches framing that side of the room. As her family had become accustomed, they looked on the unpleasant face of the old woman, a face which rarely smiled, her once hazel eyes now gray and lifeless.

“Happy Birthday, Mom,” her youngest daughter offered once everyone was situated on a couch or pulled-up chair, the young children on the floor.

A chorus of “Happy Birthdays” spattered off after Chloe took the lead, and she leaned over from her place on the couch to grab a brightly colored bag just ahead of her. She gently placed the bag in her mother’s lap, and the old woman looked down at her own reflection in the metallic sections that popped out at her. She slowly slid her hand up the top of the bag and fingered the shiny tissue paper that streamed out like the huge water fountains at the mall. And she gave one of her trademark “Hmphfs.”

“Tissue paper. It took days to clean up all that paper. I’d never seen such a mess,” the old woman grumped.

“What is she complaining about now?” her grandson whispered to his cousin from one of the chairs at the back of the party. “Grandma is the only person I know who could find a reason to be unhappy at her own birthday party.”

“Oh, who knows?” answered the teenaged girl, obsessed with twirling her long blonde locks. “Grandma’s just crazy.”

But Grandma was too busy remembering another birthday party to notice her grandchildren at the back of the room.

Yes, the crazy old bat was remembering a time when she wasn’t quite as crazy, wasn’t nearly as old, and was actually somewhat attractive. After five years of raising children she had thought she was going crazy but she was naive as to what was yet to come.

On this particular day in her memory, the young woman at the time was tired; she didn’t feel well and decided she wasn’t going to put the intentional effort into her parenting that she did on most days. Instead, she was going to lie on the couch with her feet up and trust, albeit foolishly, that her children could play nicely for a half an hour.

She heard little feet travel up the stairs, and she heard them travel back down again. She heard the sound that was akin to paper grocery bags, and she heard the rustling of paper. Yet she remained on the couch. There were no sounds of furniture crashing or screams for help, so the relatively speaking young and attractive mother decided to continue lying on the couch while her children played. But the time for her to get up arrived, and she gingerly stepped in the direction of the playroom.

She knew she had taken a risk. She knew she was probably stupid. But 30 minutes prior she hadn’t cared. She hadn’t cared, that is, until she saw every single gift bag she had owned covering the floor of the playroom. Tissue paper, the tissue paper she had carefully folded in order to reuse (that’s right–the crazy young bat hadn’t bought a bag or tissue paper in about seven years) came out of the tops of the bags in a crumpled mess. Wrinkled paper was strewn all over the floor.

“WHAT in the world?….” she trailed off, looking over the mess that overwhelmed even her sensibilities.

The three children turned around sharply looking at their mother.

“We’re having a birthday party!!” her daughter exclaimed with a smile that lit up her whole face.

“Yeah,” her son agreed while he reached down to grab one of the presents.

The mother looked and noticed that the bag was filled, filled with toys from the playroom. Her mind quickly calculated how long it would take her children to put away all of the toys that lined the bottom of each bag.

“Hurry up and have your party so we can clean up,” she said with the wave of her hand, her eyes slightly squinted from the headache that had now formed.

“Here, Hannah Grace,” offered her son. This present’s for you.”

The young girl grabbed the present excitedly, her eyes shining. She reached down and pulled out layer upon layer of tissue paper, throwing each piece on the floor, until she reached in and pulled out a princess Barbie doll, a worn, tattered princess Barbie doll whose hair she had cut. A worn, tattered princess Barbie doll that she had owned for almost a year.

“OOhhh…a princess doll! I love it!” she exclaimed as if she had never seen the doll before in her life.

“Here, Caleb. I got this present for you.” She handed her brother a bulky bag, the toy inside not quite fitting.

“Oh, wow! A football! Mom, look! Hannah Grace got me a football!”

The mother looked on in disbelief. The playroom was full of bags full of old toys that her kids were going wild over. If only the Academy were there to notice their performance.

“Well,” the moderately young mother stated matter-of-factly. “I’m so glad to know that all I have to do for Christmas is wrap up one of the toys that you already have.”

Now it was her kids’ turn to stare in disbelief.

*******************************************

The crazy old bat continued to finger the tissue paper that spew out the top of her bag, and if her children were paying attention, they might have seen the right side of her lips curl in a slight smile.

New to The Crazy Old Bat? Click here to read more of her stories. What’s a fond (or fond in retrospect) memory of your child(ren)’s play?

I’ll Never Trade

As my children take another step toward independence, I breathe a sigh of relief. I look back at pictures from just a year ago, and they each were noticeably chubbier, indelibly cute in their baby-like appearances, yet I can’t help but admit that I’d easily trade the cuteness for less craziness every day. I’d trade washing diapers for princess panties in a heartbeat, and I’d trade drawer and cabinet child-proof locks (which only seem to attract children) for the peace of mind that my new make-up will remain in its case or on my face.

But there are some things that I just can’t let go that easily….

His laugh. His most perfect laugh that starts in his belly and tickles him all the way up until he makes a sound of pure delight. I’ve never heard such a joyous noise, a sound that produces a smile on my own lips every time I hear it.

And their carefree spirits. Spirits that have them abandon their clothes before I have time to realize they’ve been summoned by the sprinkler watering the garden. Spirits that allow them to run through freezing water, screaming and laughing, compelling even me to run through a time or two fully-clothed.

And as I watch their play, I’m beginning to learn. I see my little girl, my child who wants to be in control, my child who causes me to pull out my hair every time she cuts her own, and I see that this spirit who compels her to cut hair and draw on walls and paint on carpet is the same spirit that allows her to run through fountains for hours without care for the coldness of water. A spirit that allows her to leap with abandon as screams and a never-ending smile come to her lips and water soaks her small body. A spirit that allows her to embrace life fully.

And, oh, how I hope she never trades that quality for anything.

I won’t miss tantrums and disobedience and time-outs and the knot in my stomach as the four of us venture out alone in public. But I know as they grow life will change; these times of craziness will become few and far between. But his laugh. Her spirit. Oh, how I pray I’ll never have to miss them.

What characteristics of your loved ones are the most charming? Have you ever had a moment of clarity when you realized the quality of your child or spouse that drives you crazy is the same one that makes him wonderful?

One Special Boy

photo via photobucket

We pulled into the parking lot, and I was immediately struck by the cars lining the curb. Every inch of asphalt was taken, in addition to the lined parking spaces. The lower lot was was blocked with orange cones, and the kids and I noticed the abrasive sound of machinery at work near the facility. Some sort of maintenance was taking place. I stuck out in the middle of the lot as I tried to create my own space as others had done.

A lady signaled to me from her car that she was leaving, and I watched as she backed out of her own impromptu space, a bigger home for a car than the one I had just created. I slid in next to the grassy curb, and Caleb immediately unbuckled and walked down to the front of the van. I came around to the kids’ side, washcloth in hand, ready to make clean the chocolate-covered hands and faces before me. Today was special, and I gave in to earlier requests for doughnuts, a treat that the kids had not tasted in probably over a year.

I unbuckled Hannah Grace and looked over at Caleb, already bouncing off of one foot and then the other. I began to regret my breakfast choice that morning, worried that mixing young children hopped-up on sugar with the elderly residents of a nursing home might not have been the best idea. As I lifted Chloe from her car seat and grabbed my purse, Hannah Grace skipped next to Caleb, and I took the opportunity to warn my kids about the behavior I expected:

“You guys cannot bounce around like that. You can have fun, but we have to stay calm. Some of the people here might not feel well, and they’re not going to want to watch kids who are acting all crazy.”

After about three attempts, all four of us finally connected hands, and we proceeded to walk, with a little less bouncing, down the small flight of concrete stairs to the front of the center. We walked quickly as the activity hour had already begun. We reached the front door, and I opened it while looking down at my three helpers, doing my best to usher them in and keep them from running straight back to the large room where we had played parachute last week.

But before I had even looked up, a woman blocked my way.

“Can I help you?”

“Well, we’re here to help with the activity today,” I said while looking around, suddenly noticing people working in the dark, a lack of residents sitting in the front waiting area like last week.

“We’re closed,” the lady politely, but intent on making this conversation quick, replied. “The roof caved in the other day, so we won’t be open until we get everything squared away.”

“Oh my goodness!” I replied, wondering if I should’ve noticed a missing roof as I walked up to the building, suddenly understanding why the phone just rang and rang the two times I tried to call earlier to prepare them for our visit. I felt silly, wondering how long the center had been closed.”Where did all the residents go?”

The woman explained that they had been moved to various facilities in the area, and then she checked to see if we had family staying at this center.

“Oh, no. We’re just here to help with the activity.”

“Well, thank you; we appreciate that. But just try calling to check when we’ve reopened.”

She wasn’t sure when that day would be, and I apologized for just walking in to the closed center.

I ushered the three kids back out the door and tried, once again, to create a chain of all our hands. However, Caleb wouldn’t join in. He walked ahead quickly, his shoulders hunched forward, his head hanging down.

“Caleb, are you okay?”

He wouldn’t answer, and I knew from his posture that he was crying.

“Sweetie, do you want to talk about what’s bothering you?” He could’ve just been disappointed that he wasn’t going to get to play parachute that morning, but I sensed he was feeling more than disappointment.

He grabbed the van’s door and began pulling on it, willing it to open so that he wouldn’t have to look at me.

“Okay, you don’t have to talk, but if you want to, let me know,” I told him as I unlocked the sliding door.

He hopped in the van and went back to his seat silently, and I watched as the back of his hand moved up to wipe his eyes.

I know my son, and I know he was worried. He heard that the roof caved in, and when my first thought was, “How did I miss that?” his first thought was, “Are the people okay?” I found out later from my husband, always quick to do an internet search, that all the residents were, in fact, okay; none were present in the dining area when the roof, undergoing a renovation, collapsed.

I started the van and pulled out of the space we had made and drove around the circle. I looked in the rearview mirror at Caleb, who didn’t want to talk, and we headed toward home. And as we drove, with little talking at first, my heart warmed. When God made Caleb, he made one special little boy.

Contemplating this week’s sermon on ‘Being the Church,’ and am grateful for the example found in my children. When was a time you witnessed a young child sharing the heart of God? Linking up today with Michelle.

 

And now I need your help. For the last couple of months, I have written a blog each Friday for ‘Journeys,’ the last few weeks being devoted to the fruits of the Spirit. I provided the opportunity for others to link their own posts, but there really wasn’t that much interest. The ‘Journeys’ topics have been good for me, and, while this blog is mine, it’s also yours! You all have been faithful readers and commenters, and I am interested to know what you’d like to read.

Before I eliminate the link-up all-together, would you be willing to link up on a less specific topic, perhaps just an open-ended God journey each week? Do you have another idea for a link-up? Or would you prefer to just read my take on ‘Journeys’ each week but not actually participate?

I appreciate your feedback. Feel free to give your opinion in the comments below or e-mail me at jennifer at  matt dash davis dot com. Thank you!

The Baseball Tradition: A Love Story

My family didn’t make it into the city very much, as my parents weren’t fans of crowds and traffic. We watched the ’96 Olympics from the T.V., and I can’t remember ever spending a weekend viewing Atlanta attractions. However, there was one exception: a baseball game.

I grew up hearing my father’s stories of baseball history and his favorite players. The Yankees were his team, and their rich tradition was one I loved to hear him share. From my father I learned of Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak and his help with the war effort. I heard stories of DiMaggio’s undying love for his ex-wife Marilyn Monroe that caused him to lay flowers on her grave every day for years. The baseball players from years ago have stories that just can’t be duplicated.

When my family moved to Georgia 25 or so years ago, my dad needed a team to root for, so we became fans of the Atlanta Braves. To say they were horrible when I was a little girl doesn’t even cut it, but my father always said that anyone could root for a winner. We weren’t going to be fair-weather fans, and we cheered for the Braves when they were in last place. During the summer, our T.V. nights were spent watching baseball on TBS, and the love of baseball even brought us to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium from time to time.

While my dad loves watching the game, he has his own history playing. He got a taste of his dream when he tried out in Yankee Stadium, but he wasn’t called to pitch for them. The Chicago White Sox had his name. They picked him for their farm team, but when dad threw out his arm, there was nothing more he could do. The fastball was his pitch, and not having the expert medical care that athletes have today, that injury ended his career.

And for years, the closest my dad came to passing on his knowledge was at a few seasons of my sister’s softball games. I spent ten years living my own sports dream as a gymnast, and so my dad cheered on stuck beam series and high-flying double-backs. The season of the fastball and homerun were no longer a part of his personal life.

Until he was given a grandson.

When Caleb walks to the on-deck circle, I know my father gets a little flurry of excitement. He gets to share some of his knowledge of the game with someone who can finally use it. But I have to wonder, as he looks on across the field, if it’s hard to cheer for the Mets after all his years as a die-hard Yankee fan.

Somehow, I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.

Mama's Losin' It

What love of sports does your family carry? And don’t forget to come back tomorrow and link up your own Journeys post on gentleness!

Light Sabers and Smiles: A Poem for My Son On His Fifth Birthday

The sky was clear, the sun was warm,

his excited friends came to see

the little boy born five years ago

who made his family three.

His mother had held him with one arm

in a ball against her chest,

she marveled at the quickness of time,

her ‘baby,’ a boy full of zest.

His daddy was eager for this moment,

his son now interested in these

relics of his own childhood

chocked-full of  memories.

The air was full of laughter,

children in boisterous play,

sword fighting, ice cream, and plenty of cake

all made for the perfect day.

But for his parents this day was for giving

thanks to God up above

for with this child born five years ago

they learned the true meaning of love.

Happy Birthday, Caleb! We are so proud of you–your compassionate heart, your thirst for knowledge, and your infectious laugh. You make our hearts smile!

Faithfulness

Every Sunday afternoon, I would rush into church, typically with one child hanging off of me, another sprinting ahead, and one more holding my hand, trying to break free. I’d rush over to the computers to print my children’s name tags, hating that I was always late, trying to contain the three that wanted to take off as soon as I let go.

Mr. Michael witnessed this routine every week, and, eventually, he began to look for us. As Caleb walked with me hand-in-hand to the four-year-old room, Mr. Michael would open the door to take him from me before I even had him signed in. And when I’d pick up the pen to write Caleb’s name, it was already there.

Every week, like clockwork.

When Matt stepped down from leading the tech team so that I could try going to church without arriving in a bad mood, we decided to go to the 9:00 service instead of the one I had been attending at 12:30 (and, yes, I was still late every week when I went at 12:30). When we first made the decision, I was reluctant to give up the afternoon service. After all, Caleb wouldn’t have Mr. Michael as a teacher, anymore.

Normally, Caleb looked forward to church, but there were those occasions when he cried. But Mr. Michael had the key to Caleb’s heart–he’d whip out his phone and let Caleb play games until it was time for the kids to put away the toys and learn the lesson. Caleb expected Mr. Michael every week, and I took comfort in the fact that every week at least one of the volunteers was the same, someone who was actually growing to love and care for my son.

And then my admiration for Mr. Michael grew. That first Sunday that we attended the 9:00 service and walked up to the four-year-old class, who was there to meet us? None other but Mr. Michael.

Yes, there are many individuals who volunteer every Sunday, giving their hearts and time to our precious children. For all of them, I am so thankful. Crouching down on the floor with a bunch of preschoolers every week, dealing with crying and elusive attention spans from toddlers, changing poopie diapers so that Daddy and Mommy can attend church–these men and women truly are special people.

Yes, there are many individuals who volunteer every Sunday…

…but not many are only 17.

I remember when I was 17. I was a good kid, and I loved to help others, but you wouldn’t find me arriving early for a 9:00 service so that I could care for kids every week. And you definitely wouldn’t find me spending my entire Sunday at church, volunteering for two services and attending a third. I wasn’t immune to the narcissism that tends to run through the veins of many teenagers.

But, apparently, Mr. Michael is.

The other day, as I was rounding the corner of the Chick-Fil-A drive thru, I saw a young man coming out the back doors with a huge trash can heading for the dumpster. It was Michael.

“Hi, Michael!” I yelled through my open window. “I didn’t realize you worked here!”

“Hi! Who else do you have in there?” he asked smiling, trying to peer through the windows to see what kids filled the car seats.

“Just Chloe. Caleb and Hannah Grace are in preschool.” “You know,” I went on to add, “Caleb is really going to miss you. We just started attending the Saturday night service.”

Michael went on to explain that he actually wasn’t helping anymore. He had started working with another church plant in the community. But he promised he’d visit one Saturday night to see Caleb.

As a teenager, Michael had probably spent more hours volunteering in church, sharing his time, effort, and heart for the glory of God, than most adults. And now he was helping with a church-plant in the hopes of teaching another community about the love of Jesus.

I’m so proud of him, but, selfishly, I wish I were going to see him every weekend, walking alongside us as we teach Caleb our faith. But I realize that just as I’m watching my own son grow, over the past two or so years I’ve watched Michael grow from a teenage boy of 17 into a young man. And this young man’s path is taking him in another direction.

As I’ve walked my own journey, I’ve learned that many people have great intentions but few follow through. Witnessing the faithful example of Michael has been refreshing, and he’s shown me that when a heart is turned toward God and filled with His love, commitment to His work is a natural result.

Michael during Superhero Sunday

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, New International Version, 2010). Emphasis mine

JourneysWhat examples of faithfulness have you witnessed in others? How have you seen the Spirit of God working in young people in your own church?

I’d love for you to join me in this week’s journey on ‘faithfulness.’ If you have a post that relates to this topic, enter the link below. Thanks for joining me this week!

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The Cookie Test

Yesterday, I left church not dwelling on a specific scripture, but agonizing over whether or not my children had any shred of self-control. As a tie-in to his sermon on the faith of Abraham and the need for those with faith to wait, our pastor showed a video on “The Marshmallow Test.” In this experiment, children were brought into a room without distractions by themselves and given one marshmallow. They were told that if they resisted eating the marshmallow, at the end of fifteen minutes, they would get one more marshmallow.

In the original Stanford study from 1972, follow-up studies were performed on the children who participated, and the results showed that children who resisted eating that first marshmallow grew up to have happier, more successful lives.

Immediately, visions of my children hiding under the dining room table, scarfing down homemade cookies came to mind. I saw the lollipop stains I had to clean off the carpet as they tried to devour their Valentine’s candy under that same table without Mommy noticing. My heart was filled with dread as I came to the realization that my children were doomed to a life of failure. There was no way they would resist the marshmallow. So, naturally, I had to recreate the test to see just how bad a parent I really am.

Since I don’t have hidden cameras, I performed the test in my kitchen where I could watch my children, and I had them take the test together. And since I didn’t want to have to buy a bag of yucky marshmallows for this test, I bought a box of Back to Nature Classic Creme Cookies. I did my best to not converse or actively engage with them once I started the kitchen timer, and I did not encourage them to hold off on eating the cookie. I simply stated the rules at the beginning of the test: “You may eat your cookie now, but if you wait until the timer goes off, I’ll give you another cookie.”

Four seconds into the test, my three-year-old daughter looked at me with a resigned look on her face.

“I’m going to eat my cookie now.”

Clearly, the last four seconds were the longest of her life, and her bright blue eyes dulled a little, conveying the inward struggle she had to endure.

I didn’t dissuade her and was ready to accept the fact that she was doomed to a life of failure, that I had failed as a parent, when she said, “No, no, I’m going to wait.”

I took to cooking a quick dinner while the children waited in their chairs. As I spread the tortilla chips across the baking sheet for the nachos we were to have, I happened to look up as Hannah Grace was putting her cookie to her lips, quickly bringing the cookie back down. I wasn’t near the timer, but I think we were about a minute into the test.

Caleb, my almost five year old, found his Leapster video game to occupy his time, and I’m pretty sure playing video games is against the rules and would’ve invalidated the results. However, I quickly snatched the Leapster from him and instructed him that he had to stare at the cookie from his chair–without any games in hand.

I looked up again at four minutes into the test, and Hannah Grace, once again, had the cookie to her lips. A couple of minutes later, the cookie was gone.

“Hannah Grace, did you eat your cookie?”

“No, Caleb gave it to Chloe.”

“What?!”

“Caleb gave Chloe my cookie!”

I looked at Caleb with disbelief written across my face. Did he really ruin this test by giving Hannah Grace’s cookie to their baby sister?

“I accidentally gave Chloe Hannah’s cookie.”

“You gave Chloe the cookie?”

“Yes, I accidentally gave Chloe Hannah Grace’s cookie.”

Caleb actually had a slight look of remorse and embarrassment.

“How do you accidentally give someone a cookie?!!”

I quickly reached into the box and set another cookie in front of Hannah Grace. Yes, these results were definitely invalidated. However, a couple more minutes into the test, Hannah Grace had the cookie in front of her lips again. The end result would be the same.

I have to admit that I felt surprised and disappointed at the same time–surprised that both children made an effort to not touch the cookie but disappointed that Hannah Grace couldn’t hold out.

Or could she?

Finally, the timer went off, and I immediately walked to the table. Caleb’s cookie was perfectly intact. He exceeded my expectations, more than proved me wrong by not even showing the least bit of temptation from that cookie.

But then I was perplexed. As I looked at Hannah Grace’s cookie, expecting to find chunks missing from the round chocolate disks held together by creme goodness, I noticed a cookie broken in half, but not eaten.

But I saw her put the cookie to her mouth, and she had a chocolate rim around her lips!

“Hannah Grace, did you not eat the cookie?”

“No,” she said with a smile conveying the victory she thought she achieved.

“But you have chocolate on your face. I saw you put the cookie by your mouth….” I trailed off waiting for her explanation.

“I licked the cookie!”

And licked it she had. She must’ve licked the cookie with all the force her little tongue could muster, tasting every bit of that chocolate and creme that she could without technically eating the cookie.

I didn’t have it in me to disqualify her. After all, I didn’t give her any rules except to not eat the cookie, and a full cookie she had in front of her. Never mind the fact that the cookie was moist with saliva.

As I walked over to the counter where I had set the box of cookies, I pulled out the plastic tray and grabbed two more of the promised treat. I set one cookie before each child, giving them the grand total of two, and pondered what kept these children, prone to sneaking every sweet in the house, from eating the first cookie that I laid before them. All I could figure was that they believed the promise of one more cookie to follow, and that promise was enough.

“Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6, New International Version, 2010).

I smiled as I looked at my two children, enjoying their cookies, chocolate crumbles around their lips, a trail on the table, and I let out a sigh knowing that they were not doomed to a life of failure and that I had managed to teach them some self-control. And I marveled at the lesson that they had helped bring home for me–that I, too, have a parent who will deliver on what He has promised. Temptation might encourage me to take a bite, but if only I can resist! Because, after all, everyone knows that two cookies are much better than one.

A combination of staying up too late watching a bad 83rd Oscars and having three children wake up a tad too early prevented me from linking up this post yesterday. So here it is! Just a day late…and for any of those following my weekly Journeys, this week I will ponder goodness. I would love for you to join me and link up your own post on Friday!

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, New International Version, 2010).

Lesson Learned!

From the time my daughter was old enough to have a conscious will, she has loved beautiful and girly things. From jewelry to makeup–she loves them all–and the more colors and glitter, the better!

I was not surprised to find her one day sitting on my bathroom floor, makeup smeared all over her face, mascara wand in hand as she painted her toes. I was not surprised when I found the missing necklace from my jewelry box adorning my daughter’s neck. Nor was I surprised when I found evidence of her princess stamp set marking a trail along the bannister. My daughter believes in spreading beauty and color throughout her world, no matter if she is wearing the beauty and color or her parents’ furniture.

I was never surprised at any of my little girl’s antics. I was, however, surprised at her brother’s.

I wasn’t completely naive–I knew better than to leave little kids alone with scissors–but the combination of trying a recipe for dinner that was taking too long and a crying infant left my attention divided. Way too divided. And in a brief moment, I learned that my son would make his own attempt at beautifying the world:

I just wish he wouldn’t have made this attempt the day before his sister’s second birthday party. And I really wanted her first haircut to be, well, a good one.

I thought I learned my lesson; I figured my son was just young. He was just doing what three-year-olds do. Heck! I cut my own bangs, to my mother’s horror, when I was three. Except that he tried his hand at hair design again when he was four. In exactly the same place that he cut his sister’s hair the first time.

If I hadn’t learned my lesson before, I learned it now. Scissors were no longer put up high–they were put away all together! The only time cutting was a part of arts and crafts was when the kids’ baby sister was napping and dinner preparation had not yet commenced. If Mommy had to use the bathroom, the scissors came with her! She would not make this mistake again.

So it’s really embarrassing that this story continues….

In a quest to save money and prove that I had skill, I took my son outside to cut his hair. I really didn’t know what I was doing, so the haircut took three times as long as if I got it done in the salon. My plan to cut his hair while the baby was napping was a good one. His other sister was playing outside. And when the baby woke up, I took the scissors with me to get her.

Unfortunately, I forgot that there were clippers in my little haircut accessory pouch. My son, however, didn’t. In the thirty seconds I was gone, he found an electric outlet outside, plugged in those clippers, and took a chunk out of his hair–right in the front. And for good measure, he took out a section from his sister’s hair again–in a slightly different place from the last two times. I guess he was starting to learn about symmetry.

So, while others might see a cute picture of a boy and his father, I see that a chunk of hair is missing from his bangs.

Clearly, I do not think fast enough for my son. My tears at lost hair do not have an effect, nor does punishment. And, frankly, I’m not sure any of those things can persuade a person with a passion.

So why fight it? I’ve learned my lesson–I’m enrolling my son in cosmetology school.

I’m linking up today with Mama Kat for her writer’s workshop. I combined two of her prompts–a lesson learned and a time my toddler got into something he shouldn’t have.

Don’t forget to come by tomorrow and link up your own post on kindness for this week’s ‘Journeys!’

Our First Date

We hadn’t gone on an official date before, at least, not that I remember, just the two of us without a sister tagging along. Time alone is difficult and precious to come by, but Valentine’s Day afforded the perfect night for dates with Daddy and the girls and Mommy and her little man.

And a little man you were. I chuckled inside every time my little 4-year-old acted more like 40.

“Do you have enough gas?”

“Yes, sweetheart. We have a full tank.”

And off we drove to Zaxby’s, apparently a sacrifice on your part, your daddy bribing you with candy while I was in the bathroom. We had moved up a slight step from Burger King.

With each bite of my chicken finger, I couldn’t help but study your face. Your sweet smile, your perfect eyes and long lashes. You’re my little boy who isn’t quite as little, anymore.

And you were happy and hungry. Our date was prolonged as you requested more food, and we talked about preschool and your day as you wiped the grease off your fingers onto the booth in which you sat.

You helped yourself to three quarters in my wallet and bought bouncy balls out of the dispenser, one for you and your two sisters. And your night was made.

My night was made a little later.

It wasn’t when you came back to your seat and noticed Mommy was without a toy. You helped yourself to my money again and bought me a necklace, a silver star hanging on a silver string that took us 15 minutes to get out of the cheap, plastic ball in which it came. You eagerly waited the rest of the night (and part of the next day, too) to place that necklace in my jewelry box.

No, you made my night, this already perfect night, on the car ride home. After we crossed the parking lot, hand in hand, you climbed over a pile of fast food bags toward your booster seat.

“Why is Daddy’s car so messy?”

“I don’t know. I guess it just doesn’t bother him the way it does you and me.”

“Why does he just throw his stuff all over the floor?…I guess he must be really busy.”

I smiled.

“Mom, I don’t want icing on my birthday cake.”

I was caught off guard by the quick transition and the request to limit the sugar on your cake.

“I don’t want the icing–I don’t like it. You can just make me a cookie cake, but no icing.”

But I don’t like icing.

I took in your words and savored them, for they gave us another connection to share as mother and son. In some ways you are like me–you worry, and people hurting breaks your heart–but we have many differences. Yet, my little man who can smell sugar in the air, has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar more times than I can count, doesn’t like icing like his mommy, either.

And for some strange reason, my heart warmed as I tucked that little detail into the storerooms of my heart.

My memory isn’t very good, but I won’t forget our first date, at least now that I’ve written about it. And while your memory is amazing, one day this date might slip from your mind, as first loves and heartaches fill the spot where it once sat.

Yet, my hope is that as you go from birthday party to party, scraping icing off the top of your cake, something inside of you will tug at your heart, reminding you of your Mommy.

I’m joining Mama Kat for her Writer’s Workshop today.

And don’t forget to come back tomorrow! Have you looked up the definition for ‘forbearance,’ yet? That’s our topic for this week’s ‘Journeys.’ Click on the tab at the top of this page for more information.