Monthly Archives: February 2012

Choosing Her Friends Carefully

Tina and I were supposed to make pancakes with spicy apple topping together, but her creative spirit has called her away. And it’s no wonder. Maria has bought construction paper in two sizes and soft, brightly colored pipe cleaners. Her only admonition about using the materials is “You have to take time.”

I love watching Tina when she’s ENGAGED. She’s excited too, as she makes Grandpa and me each a flower and a bracelet. I’m to make sure to tell Grandpa his flower is a “boy color” (blue, but orange was also a possibility). My flower is a traditional pink.

Her big white teddy bear and current close friend sits up to the table at suppertime. Beary gets the red plate with the apple topping and shares generously with Tina and me.

After listening to “Noah’s Ark” Tina and Beary drop off to sleep, and Tina notes in her sleep that she sees dry land.

She wakes up feeling chipper, and is pleased that Beary also had a good sleep. Perhaps it was the nightwear—Beary slept in Tina’s  lilac flannelette pyjamas.

Beary’s ready to learn this morning. Tina props her up on the couch and we co-teach a lesson on the alphabet. Beary is learning the capital letters and their small counterparts as well as some key words. Mademoiselle Tina elevates the lesson to a new level of sophistication with a demonstration on producing “e” in French. And Maria says that Beary wanted to do addition flash cards last night. Beary is a fine influence indeed!

I’m glad Tommy and Tina have such rich fantasy lives. Every gift from God is good, and every gift can be used to glorify Him. May Tommy and Tina use their gifts wisely!

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Flights of Fancy: A Mammalian Duck and a Homeless Bank Card

Tina’s friends are up to the dinner table. White kitty in blue sweater has a piece of broccoli, Little Lamb is favored with a tiny square of cheese, and Duckie waits patiently for his bottle of milk. We “hold hands” with the animals when we ask the blessing, and after supper a delighted Tina praises Duckie for not drinking his milk without permission. Indeed, her stuffed animals are models of obedience seldom seen in their warmblooded counterparts.

Over at Tommy’s, I wait inside his bedroom until I hear a knock on the door. What’s this I see? A homeless little bank card (don’t ask!) with a pile of toys on the floor waits to be invited in. His family has gone off to war, he explains in a pained voice, and they told him to come to my house.

I welcome him warmly, and explain that my grandson used to live there and would be happy to share his toys. I tell him my grandson travels all over the world helping people. That worries Tommy, who says he works at his mommy’s office. I agree. My grandson is at the office now, I say, and will be back later.

As a child I enjoyed many activities with my friends, but the pretending games were the most fun of all. What a privilege to share this kind of fun with my favorite little people!

Arthur’s Valentines

Maria has made sure that Tina has written a Valentine to each of her classmates. Now that that’s done, she settles in to write Valentines to her stuffed animals.

Maria’s care in making sure that all Tina’s classmates are accounted for brings to mind a long ago Valentine’s Day.

I was working in an inner city elementary school attended by a young boy named Arthur. Arthur was different, and so was his mother. Day after day she called the school and complained about a variety of issues until some creative, compassionate person hit upon a solution—invite her to volunteer. What a change! The complainer used her considerable talents for the benefit of others, and the complaints screeched to a halt.

But what of Arthur? He was still different, and in ways not appreciated by the “in” crowd—or any other crowd. I don’t remember the kids bullying him, but I do remember him being alone.

One February 13 his teacher came to me with dismal news. She’d opened the class Valentine box to check it before the party the next day, and poor Arthur had no Valentines.

What to do? The teacher produced a couple of kid-style cards from her desk, and we each wrote an anonymous one to Arthur in kid-style writing. I signed mine from a “secret friend.”

The teacher noticed Arthur studying his Valentines the next day, no doubt trying to guess the identity of his two secret friends!

I make no claims to have solved Arthur’s social problems, but I do believe that the kindness and initiative shown by his teacher made his life a little easier that day.

A few—very few—Arthurs bring firearms to school and make headlines. Most just live out their sad lives barely noticed by those blessed with friends.

Let’s look for the Arthurs, and in our treatment of them let us honor their Creator and brighten their days!

“I am only one. But still I am one. I cannot do everything but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett

“My mom needs zucchini”

Lisa’s been sick for two weeks, feeling miserable, dragging through her workdays, wanting to spend time with Tommy, feeling blah . . . .

I jump at the chance to pick him up from day care, and Auntie Maria and I take him on our grocery shopping excursion. All is relatively calm until he spies a zucchini. “My mom needs this,” he announces. A mango is next, and then a loaf of bread. I balk at margarine, but he remembers the time he and Mommy were going to make cookies but had no butter.

We take the margarine and he spots instant oatmeal. Lisa’s quite the health nut and I’m pretty sure this isn’t something she “needs,” but I pick up a box with relatively pronounceable ingredients.  (Lisa later confirms my suspicions about the oatmeal, but she also confirms the margarine story.)

Oh oh! Tommy spies tables of snack foods. He’s indignant. “My mommy doesn’t need this,” he announces. “It’s unhealthy.” And with that he tosses one box, then another, to the centre of the offending pile. I suggest we not throw things, and lead him away. He treats the candy and chocolate bars with similar disdain, but foregoes any further product launches.

We arrive safely at the check-out, where Tommy takes charge of Mommy’s groceries. He packs the bags and carries them to the car. 

We pick up supper from Maria’s and head over to Tommy’s ailing Mom’s. She’s not about to make zucchini bread anytime soon, but is grateful for Tommy’s thoughtfulness and care.

The next day I take Tommy to gymnastics, and then we make pancakes with maple spiced apple topping. Auntie Anna chops the apples, and Tommy blends in the spices and maple syrup and stirs the apples in the frying pan. This recipe is quite the discovery!

Lisa manages to eat one slice of apple and praises Tommy for his “good helping.” (She says she can’t taste the apple.)

Later she goes OUTSIDE in the winter weather to watch Tommy play. I go to give her a break—and to reflect on how grateful I am that Lisa doesn’t settle for the minimum even when she’s feeling miserable.

Tommy is her treasure all the time.

I suddenly remember that I read years ago that those who love us when we’re at our worst don’t deserve us at our best. I have a different idea: those who truly love us do so at THEIR worst and at their best.

Didn’t Christ draw strength from His love for us during His deepest suffering?