"I broke this. Hey guys...I broke this! My mistake."
Before I could make my way out to see what he was talking about, they retrieved whatever they had come for and the door thumped shut behind them. I watched the reflection of their skipping forms gallop across the kitchen window.
One day a week I have the privilege of caring for my Connors grandkids the whole live-long day. I get to pour milk on their cereal, draw pictures and strap little dollies into pretend strollers. I kiss boo-boos and change diapers and wipe little noses when they're sick. I get to make up stories; get to read stories; get to live stories that can be told at the dinner table on Sunday evenings when we recount the charming moments of our week.
When John and Ashley decided that Ash would take the job teaching at Knowlton Elementary School this year, we all agreed to do what we could to make it work without too much disruption. Sophie is in first grade and loves having her mom right there with her. This morning she scratched her leg and wanted a band-aid. The box in the cupboard was empty.
I offered to take Thursdays as my tending day. After a few weeks of tending at my own house I decided I needed to re-think things. When I'm at home I hear my home-work screaming at me. Things I have to write, create, fix, cook, mend and clean. They are very loud and obnoxious voices there at my house. And since Ruby will consider napping if she has her own crib, I decided to let go of my own tasks and completely give Thursdays (and occasional Fridays) to my little ones.
The tiny angel who sits on my shoulder whispered reassurance to me, telling me this is a good thing, everything at home can wait. I knew from the start that the Lord had led me to this decision. Because I decided to let this day be a gift my grandkids and I give each other, I can feel the seams of our family fabric cinching together, tightening our sense of devotion, comfort, mutual respect and pure love. I'm not just tending. I am building a family.
I remember driving one of my Young Women home one night after Mutual. "You have anything fun planned this week?" I asked.
"Ugh. Not really. We have to go to our grandparents."
"Isn't that fun?" I asked, somewhat surprised by her negativity.
She shrugged her shoulders and gazed out the window. "They never have liked us. We were always a bother when we were little. So now that we're teenagers they want us to have this warm fuzzy relationship with them and it just isn't there."
I hear that conversation over and over in my head.
I heard it at 3 am last night when I was just not sleeping well and I knew I’d be handling little ones for eight hours as soon as the sun rose. Its a different stewardship when you're not the actual mom.
It re-sets my brain to the starting place, reminding me what matters most in this old world. I am grateful for such voices in my head.
Right now I look around at these scattered toys while I tell myself to finish writing so I can clean up before Ash gets home... but what I hear in my head is that little interaction at the front door a few minutes ago. I hear Parker stretching his four year old voice to be heard over the first graders he's playing with. I hear him call out,
"I broke this. My mistake!"
It's kind of funny to hear a pipsqueak say "My mistake."
Funny and beautiful. It tells me that someone in his life has said it enough times for him to imitate. It makes me sort of weepy, sitting here on a typical sort of day, doing the sort of stuff I had done for decades in my own home.
I pause and close my eyes, thanking the Lord that these children have people in their lives who will acknowledge their mistakes; who will stop long enough to even notice them, who will admit them but not wallow in them. You can tell a lot about a kid's regular environment when you spend real chunks of time with them.
I glance at the colorful pleasures gifted to these little ones, spread across the floor beside me, bestowed on them by people who love them. And I am assured that the truest treasures are uncollectable. One nestles safely inside that little boy who can comfortably acknowledge: “My mistake,” and then happily go off to play.
|The First Graders- Sophie & Henry|
|Park and Rubes|
|Parker, Sophie & Ruby|