[This is a fake post scheduled pre-trip. Right now I'm probably doing anything and everything in my power to soak up as much warmth as possible over the course of 48 hours. There is likely sweet tea involved. There is definitely Chick-fil-A involved. Full updates next week!]
The kids that I nanny for are a brother and sister, 2 and 4, respectively. They play really well together. But as siblings, it’s in the contract that they get into arguments at least once per hour. It’s relational law.
More often than not, these spats revolve around whatever imaginary game they happen to be playing at the moment. My favorite is when they FREAK OUT over the injustices that have just befallen them at the hands of each other’s imaginary actions. Last week we were playing with their kitchen set. Brother is pretending to make a tray of imaginary cookies, big ones and small ones, as per his description. Sister proceeds to gobble up said invisible baked goods. Brother turns to me and, with a look of horror, wails, “SHE ATE ALL OF THE BIG ONES!!!”
Troubleshooting these situations is always an adventure because you can’t just whip out a tub of imaginary big cookie dough to make another batch, as per my initial attempt. Oh, no! That’s just unacceptable. What needs to happen is an official time reversal in which, as it turns out, Sister did not eat all of the big ones, and there are still some left over for him and me there in the corner of the tray. We just couldn’t see them originally because they were hiding underneath the flower decals on the baking pan.
The imaginary crises bring me no end of joy because it’s so funny to see what they come up with and what solution they’ll agree to. But on the other hand, I really love those kids like you would not believe, so I want to fix all of their problems, imaginary or not. And last week while I was desperately seeking a solution that would result in a healing of the Big Cookie Wound, I thought about how much easier it would be to solve an actual, tangible problem – one that was not controlled by the highly subjective entity that is 2 year old logic.
And then…because I can’t turn off the wheels that create odd connections in my brain…I thought about how much easier my life would be if it were not controlled by the highly subjective entity that is my human logic.
Because, really, about 99% of the time I do the same thing the kids do. I work myself into a panic about imaginary problems that only exist in my overactive mind. Problems about what may or may not happen to my parents, my friends, myself. Questions about where I may or may not live or what kind of career I may or may not have. Crises that involve wondering whether or not I’ll ever see a Packers game at Lambeau Field or live within walking distance to Trader Joe’s or Jamba Juice or Chick-fil-A.
These are the things that keep me up at night.
But they are imaginary things of my own creation. There is nothing real about them. It’s just as foolish to get my feathers ruffled over potential future employment opportunities as it is to be outraged at the violation of imaginary personal property. It’s literally no different.
It makes me think of this:
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
It would be so helpful to remember those verses more often.
And as for the imaginary problems I just can’t quit no matter how hard I try? God wants to take care of those too, even though they’re fake! I wanted to comfort my little baker in his grief over stolen cookies – whether they were real or not didn’t matter. I wasn’t judging him or discounting him on account of the fact that we were trying to solve a problem about air…it felt real to him so it mattered to me. If that’s how I feel about a child I just get to play with on weekdays, imagine how much greater the love of God for his children and their problems – real or imaginary.
So, friends, may all of your big cookies be real ones. Eaten only by you, and not your sister. And may the fake ones either disappear or be given to the Lord, who is ready and willing to take good care of them – and you, too.
I didn’t think there was anything better than having a 2 year old tell you he loves you and has missed you after a week long vacation.
Until his 4 year old sister hit me with this:
“Beka, when you get married, I’ll be the nanny for my brother.”
“Oh, that’s so nice of you! But who will take care of you?”
“Well, Beka, don’t be silly. I’ll be in college when you get married so I won’t need a nanny.”
Good to know the world is on the same page about my marital status.
But seriously…LOVE IT. Love them. Kids are the best.
Story from the Huffington Post featuring a letter to Kyle Williams, the 49ers receiver who fumbled the ball on a kick return to set up the winning field goal for the Giants in overtime of the NFC Championship game, from seven year old Owen Shure:
Dear Mr. Williams:
We just watched the Playoff game. I feel really bad for you but I wanted to tell you that you had a great season. you sould be very proud, so I wanted to say thank you.
I am your #1 FAN!
Los Angeles, CA
p.s. your awsome
Kids are smarter than adults. (And to Owen’s parents: keep up the great work!)
daily word: This one has to go to Annie. Today, in her just-turned-4 logic, she explained Thanksgiving as follows: “There are lots of turkeys. And you know, turkeys taste great when they’re dead!”
daily sweat: An hour on the arc trainer this morning, which was a deviation of my original plan to do a long run, but there was literally not one square inch of my body that felt like running 6 miles was a good idea. It was totally different than “I don’t feel like running today.” It was more like, “PLEASE…for the love of all that is sanity…DO NOT GET ON THE TREADMILL.” So, I didn’t! And the hour on the arc trainer felt great! A good lesson in working out wisely.
daily dish: I don’t know why but this lunch thrilled me to pieces.
Carrot sticks in hummus, red grapes, and butternut quinoa stew.
Day 64: pummeled by faithfulness
(this is still true)
Annie is one of the kids I nanny for. She’s 3 years old. And as a 3 year old, she has many, many, (MANY) questions about the world. Almost every sentence ends in, “but why?” And the ones that don’t end in “but why?” end in just plain “why?” I like coming up with creative answers to her questions that will make her think even more about her (inevitable) next question. Half because it’s good for her imagination and half because it gives me an extra few seconds in between questions. But this time around, she was the one who made me think about my own questions and answers. We had this conversation while tying shoelaces last week:
“What’s your daddy’s name?”
“My daddy’s name is Don.”
“Because that’s what his parents named him.”
“They must have really liked that name.”
“What does Don do?”
“Well…he helps people.”
(The best way to avoid an answer that involved prison, inmates, and other details that would have boggled a 3 year old mind.)
“He gives them Bibles, and teaches them lessons, and tells them about Jesus.”
“Because it’s important for people to know how much Jesus loves them.”
(Momentary pause to think it all over.)
“And what’s your mommy’s name?”
“Her name is Martie.”
“Because that’s what her parents named her.”
“What does Martie do?”
“She helps kids in school.”
“She helps them get on and off the bus and she feeds them lunch and she makes them smile.”
“Because it’s important to help kids and make them smile.”
And in her simple stream of questions, Annie helped me understand fundamental truths about my parents that I’d never given much thought to before: I was born into a family of helpers, to parents who care more about doing something that matters than doing something that makes money. Besides raising me in a home that put faith first, it’s the most important lesson they’ve ever taught me, and it was never once spoken. It was enacted.
Thank you, Mom and Dad, for living lives that reflect your values and for imparting those values to me. And thank you, Annie, for asking an incalculable number of questions throughout the day. Especially ones like these.