Monthly Archives: January 2011

Plastic Bags, Babies and Tina

“You broke a health rule, but you didn’t know,” I tell Tina. “But we’ll have to tell Mommy.”

Tina’s not to blame for what she doesn’t know, but this is serious. Maria has to be told.

When Maria gets home, I explain that Tina put a plastic bag over her head but she didn’t know she was breaking a rule. It was a heavy plastic garbage bag, not the filmy plastic that can smother a baby, but what an opportunity for a safety lesson!

I love Maria’s reaction.

“Ask Grandma why it’s wrong,” she instructs.

I explain that sometimes people can’t breathe when they have plastic bags on their faces.

“Sometimes people can’t breathe,” Tina repeats.

Then Maria goes on to explain that we can’t put plastic bags on babies or old people or kitties or anyone else, and has Tina give her the reason again.

I love the way Maria enters Tina’s world to teach her this important lesson. I’d thought of babies, and the soon-to-arrive baby in Maria’s home, but I hadn’t thought of old people and kitties. Fluffy Kitty and Kendra Kat are a big part of Tina’s life.

Tina understands this is serious business, and she listens respectfully.

That brings me back to a scolding that put a smile on my face.

We’ve had a happy playtime and it’s time for me to go. Or at least I think it’s time for me to go. Tina blocks the door, arms folded. “I’m getting so tired of you going home!” she scolds in her best annoyed grown-up voice.

I humbly explain that I have to go home to Grandpa. Tina forgives me, and sings me a little two-line song–made up on the spot–to sing to Grandpa when I get home.

“Teach me Thy way, O LORD”  Psalm 86:11


Black Sheep, White Sheep

Tommy mortifies Lisa at a coffee shop by announcing, quite loudly, that he doesn’t like black people. And not just black people in general, but very specifically the black people in the line-up. And why doesn’t he like them? Because they’re black.

Poor Lisa! She handles it the best she can. Then one day when we’re out for dinner, she asks for advice about books that might help Tommy.

“I have a story to tell you,” I announce to Tommy and Tina.

Once a little white sheep went down to the river to get a drink. “I don’t like black sheep,” he thought to himself. “I only like white sheep, like me.”

But he didn’t know that there was a hungry lion looking down on him. “Mmm,” thought the lion, “a delicious little sheep. And he’s all alone. There’s no one to help him.”

The lion crouched down, ready to jump on the little white sheep and eat him.

But what happened? A little black sheep was watching. “Quick!” he called to all the other black sheep. “Come and help our brother! He’s in trouble!”

All the black sheep got together and raced toward the lion. When he saw all those sheep racing toward him, he ran away.

“I can never, never eat any sheep,” said the lion, “as long as the black sheep and white sheep are friends.”

The story gets scarier as Tommy and Tina get into it. Soon it’s not a lion that’s the villain, but 15–yes, 15–monsters!

But the ending is always the same. As long as the white sheep and black sheep are friends, nothing can hurt them.

The story has changed considerably since that day. The sheep no longer have color issues.

When I talked to Tommy the other day, the sheep allowed the lion to live with them after he promised not to eat them. In the winter, a ewe and her baby lamb lay nestled between the great paws of the lion, snug and warm in the softly falling snow. Then a bear joined the flock, and then a bird, fluffing up its feathers to keep a baby lamb and its mother warm.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a Greek or a Jew, or if you are circumcised or not. You may even be a barbarian or a Scythian, and you may be a slave or a free person. Yet Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us.”
Colossians 3: 11 (Contemporary English Version)