Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Naughty Spot

Precisely five seconds ago he was draped over the crook of my arm like a warm pea pod while I peacefully enjoyed the Harry Potter saga and sipped Chai lattes (with no lid!). Suddenly my straw is making that empty-glass gurgly sound and he is gone! He has slipped out of my dreamy embrace to fight with his brother and throw chicken nuggets on the floor.

Thankfully, I knew just what to do. "Charlie! No sir!" I yelled and I mean YELLED with my mean frowny eyes digging right into his hard little head. Hahaha, that got Toby in line every time. I heard whimpering...

from Toby (wha?). Charlie, however, looked at me and laughed before running away with giddy excitement.


Over the past weeks I have spanked him. (Hilarious!) Put him in time out. (Thanks, I felt like a rest!) Took away toys. (I was done anyway!) Put him in his room. (I love it in there!) Yelled some more--louder, finger pointy-er, until the veins in my temples exploded and my head spun off into outer space. Did he wince? No! He appeared jubilant, no PROUD, of his powerful little self!

I overheard his preschool teachers talking about the "naughty spot." The naughty spot, hmmm, worth a try. Later, I caught him throwing an expectant peek over his shoulder as he casually unplugged the DVD player during Toby's movie.

"Charlie, do you need to go to the naughty spot?" I asked. And...

His lower lip trembled. TREMBLED! He let go of the plug, hung his head, and waddled away. I have never felt such joy making a child cry in shame. Booyah!!!!

Today, I am going to ignore his charming dimples (okay, one little cheek squeeze). I am going to ignore his father (the pastor!) who insists "naughty spot" sounds a little dirty. Today victory is mine!!!! Mwahahaha!*

*Feel free to leave ideas for tomorrow...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

On Trial

I'm distracted by this. Without giving creepy Internet weirdos my exact address, let's just say it was nearby. Grief veils the village faces-- rescue workers, neighbors, parsonage, mothers-- all are affected. My friends and I mope around with sore lips from repeatedly kissing the warm cheeks of our babies.

Some things just won't fit in the mini-van. No one has answers. When fear and confusion spew from the town spicket, the church flips to it's default setting of "defense attorney," puking out arguments for God's infallibility. "Some important blessing will come out of this!" "All things work for good in those who fear Him!" "He has a plan!" "His ways are not our ways!" I hate the sound of it, us defending God as if he needs a publicist to clean up after Him. Yet here I am standing in my driveway fumbling through stock answers with terrified, doubtful mommies while we run our fingers through downy heads of precious, irreplaceable hair.

Yesterday I was thinking. (It happens.) We are stuck in the reality of peanut butter sandwiches, and cat litter, and coffee shops-- things requiring no faith at all to believe in. Now suddenly we have to answer, void of reason, void of warm-tingles, void of evidence: Do we believe God?

The bitter pill to swallow is that God's fallibility is not on trial. Only our faith is.

How will you answer?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Chaos Theory

I can't think. I can't think. I am doing a load of whites. I am making sandwiches. I am gluing decorations for the coffee social at church. No, actually, I am slathering Vick's Vapo-Rub under Charlie's snot-soaked t-shirt while peanut butter and scrapbook paper and dirty socks sputter through my cranial mess of smoldering, sparking wires.

I hate it when I get like this. When I have so many things to do, so many unrelated, taskly things, that I stumble around completely zombified, unable to finish even one of them.

Why do I need peanut butter? When I press my fingers to my temples I imagine my brain's secretary fumbling for the file amid a cluttered, coffee-smelling office. You are hideously inept I say as she stares back guiltily.

We don't have time to fight because Toby's shoes were mysteriously summoned to Jesus, again. I send Greg outside to dig in the outdoor trash bin. “We should just buy new," he mumbles.

"Sometimes it’s the principle!" I yell because more than anything I want to know how shoes can vanish inexplicably.

I step over Charlie who is now driving a train on the bedroom floor. "Charlie? Where are Toby's shoes?" I ask hopefully when I notice poop falling out the back of his diaper. For the love!!!

I whisk him to the bathroom for a strip and rinse, trying to decide exactly why I'm gagging. Is it his poop-smeared back or the rope of green snot sliding down his upper lip? I sacrifice a whole bar of soap to the cause as I scrub the offending orifices. Now bleaching the bath-tub is following peanut butter through my frontal lobe like a tourist asking for directions. Except that peanut butter answers in confused French and it's obvious that NO ONE KNOWS WHAT'S GOING ON IN THERE!

Are there mothers somewhere darning fluffy-toed socks while their good-smelling offspring sort the recycling and eat beets? Children in some dry, remote corner of Arizona who never have sinusitis or crusty eye goo? How did I end up here, raising shoeless, allergy-ridden vegetable-haters, searching for poo in my carpet?

God why is this ridiculous exercise in anarchy part of it all? Why am I LOSING MY MIND?

I finally get them to bed and it is quiet. Instead of reading, or watching Grey's Anatomy, here I am clinking out the whole dirty mess of it for posterity. God, is it this? This now, sitting down to capture the wild confusion of our day? I roll each moment in my palm like a precious stone and it doesn’t seem exasperating anymore. It reminds me of how much I love this life, these children of mine, for whom I give all of my sanity. For whom it is an honor.