Monthly Archives: June 2009

David and His Chocolate Lab—Consummate Teachers

Tommy’s been getting over his fear of dogs, but he’s not there yet. He still cringes at the sight of a puppy, even a tiny one.

We’ve just walked over the bridge in the big park, enjoying the sound of our footsteps on the wooden planks, when we see a young man and his chocolate lab. The dog is chasing a stick, and we go over to watch.

What a pair! David is calm, speaking to Coco in a firm but gentle voice. Coco loves his work—bounding down the little hill into the creek to retrieve a stick.

Would Tommy like to throw the stick? “Will Coco try to take it from him?” I ask, envisioning the dog knocking my grandson over in his enthusiasm.

David and Coco have competed in dog shows, and they’re pros. David shows us how Coco waits, not only until the stick is thrown, but until he has permission to fetch it. And Coco stops on a dime, on command.

We walk a couple of feet away and David stays with Coco just to be sure (or just to assure us). Tommy throws the stick and Coco, on David’s command, fetches it.

What’s this? If Tommy holds out his hand, Coco will drop the stick into it. This is fun!

I hold Tommy’s hand and we go down near the water. A big throw, and Tommy gets the stick right into the water. Coco fetches it and shakes himself, giving us all a shower.

David’s wife calls, and he has to go and pick up her and the baby. I thank him and tell him how much he’s helped Tommy. As he leaves, I wonder—does he really know how much this has meant to me? God bless you both, David and Coco. And may you continue to be a blessing to others.


Ants, a Sweet Little Girl and the Book of Ecclesiastes

Tina and I are reading a library book about ants. Her 3½-year-old imagination takes over, and she gently scoops the ants off the page and into my hand. “Put them back,” she says.

I deposit the small black garden ants back into the ground. “Thank you for working in the garden,” I say. The fire ant goes on the facing page. “You could have killed me,” I tell it. “Thank you for not biting me.” I release the flying ants into the sky at the top of the page, and thank the rain forest ants for taking care of the trees.

Page after page, the ants are replaced with a comment about their work or a thank you for not biting me. “God made you,” I tell the little creatures.

I excuse myself to use the bathroom. Moments later Tina comes to the door, concerned. “Where did you put the ants?”

“On the couch,” I tell her.

We come to the ant enemies page—the armadillo, lizard and giant anteater. Tina is troubled. She has bonded with these little creatures who do important work and now sees them being devoured. The giant anteater can consume 20,000 at once. “That’s okay because God made him that way,” I tell her. She sees five ants at the bottom of the page, deep in the earth where the anteater’s tongue has not yet reached.

“Get these ants,” she says, and I scoop them into my hand. Five little ants live to see another day, safe from the devouring tongue of their six-foot long enemy.

“He hath made everything beautiful in his time . . .” Ecclesiastes 3:11

I dream about a bathroom sink full of ants and two toys that have sprouted wings.

Kind Girl, Jealous Girl and a Lesson from the Book of Proverbs

At a year and a half, the Duchess of Toddlerdom has vast wealth. Tina’s holdings include, but are not limited to, her mommy, her cousin Tommy, her Auntie Lisa, and her grandma and grandpa. She also owns her toys and Tommy’s toys.

So what’s she to do when one of her possessions decides to cuddle with another one? Sometimes she gets nasty (no one, including royalty, likes to be robbed!), but she often comes up with kind, creative solutions.

She brings Baby Tommy a soother and a cell phone as he sits on my knee. Or she pats him gently on the head and talks to him, arm around him. Another day she comes up to me while I’m holding Tommy and laughs. That will always get my attention!

“ . . . he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” Proverbs 11:25

A Mind of Her Own

The children are dismissed for children’s church. Tina’s two, and children’s church is for  three- to five-year-olds. But I think she’d like it. Should I go down and stay with her? As I think and pray about this, a polite little voice asks if she can go. “It’s just for the big kids,” I explain.

“Tina big kid,” says the little voice.

We go downstairs. Tina doesn’t know the songs, but she enjoys the music. Then the children play with play dough. I’m not very artistic, but I try. “I’m making a ball,” I announce.

“Tina ball,” comes the response, and we both make balls.

I grow bold. “I’m making a snowman,” I tell her, piling up three balls.

“Tina snowman,” comes the response.

I must be an artist! I have a protégé.

Now she’s three, and I no longer have an apprentice. Tina operates entirely on her own.

We’re in the bathroom brushing our teeth, and she notices an owie on my hand. Ever so gently, she rubs some of her own cream on it. I’m impressed.

“You’re so gentle,” I say. “Maybe you’ll be a nurse when you grow up.”

Tina’s back stiffens. She’s just thought of an idea, all by herself. “I’m going to be a nurse!” she announces, eyes flashing with determination.

If only she’d listen . . . .

I Scared Car Wash!

We’re not sure why, maybe it’s a tendency to claustrophobia, but two-year-old Tommy’s terrified of car washes. “I scared car wash,” he tells perfect strangers at the big park. “I scared car wash,” he says as I drive him home from day care. Ditto on the way to the pet store to see the fish.

Today is Saturday, and Lisa’s washing cars to raise money for cancer research. I have a plan. “I’m going to take you to see Mommy,” I tell him, “and you won’t be scared.” 

He doesn’t want to go.

I shake his hand and say, “We’re not going inside.” Pretty safe, I think, since Lisa and her friends are washing cars in a parking lot. “I promise you we won’t go inside.”

I shake his small hand to seal the promise. Have I gone too far? I remember the admonition in James: “ . . . swear not, neither by heaven, nor by the earth . . . but let your yea be yea and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” I haven’t made an oath, of course, but maybe I shouldn’t be making promises either.

On the way, he repeats and repeats “We’re not going in.”

“We’re NOT going in,” I confirm and confirm.

His fears vanish when he sees the “car wash.” Lisa and her friends are laughing, the music’s playing, and the kids are helping to wash cars OUTSIDE. Tommy gets a sponge. He and the other littles scrub wheels, doors and bumpers while the grown-ups operate the hose and scrub roofs, windows and other high parts. It’s a party.

Lisa’s delighted. They’ve made over $150. I’m delighted. Tommy sees me as a promise keeper, although from now on I plan to state my case without making promises.

Flushed with victory and wanting to celebrate, I take him to the big park. After I’ve parked the car, Tommy sees an elderly gentleman walking by. “Hi!” he calls out the window.

The gentleman turns our way. “Hi!” he calls back.

“I don’t like a car wash!” Tommy informs him.

Rome wasn’t built in a day . . .

Little Laundry Lady

It’s been said that most children have the spirit of inquiry spanked out of them before they enter school. Not so with Tina. The spirit of inquiry lives on, and so does her initiative.

At a year and a half, she’s Mommy’s little helper. When Mommy washes the floor, she gets her baby wipes and washes the floor too.

But what if Mommy’s not doing her job? Surely the clean socks on the shelf need re-washing. Hmm . . . what does Mommy use? Oh yes—dry cat food.  Mix with water, add socks and scrub till clean.

I love how Tina’s mom, Maria, doesn’t get after her for things done in innocence.

Perhaps God has taught Maria to look on the heart, as He does.

“ . . . man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”  I Samuel 16:7