Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Don't Try This At Home

Carter and Griffin take naps in the afternoon. If it were solely up to me, they would maintain this habit well into adolescence. Griffin is a relatively compliant child. He sleeps when we tell him it is naptime - for several hours, usually. Sometimes he even asks to go to bed. Carter, on the other hand, has been a holy terror since he exited the womb. For a while he refused to stay in bed, much less his room for the designated hour of rest. When he did stay in his room, he would be possessed by the right-hand side of his brain, whereupon he would compulsively decorate the place with whatever medium was available to him. Since his room is basically void of any and all art supplies, this required him to manufacture and then produce his medium of choice. And that, dear friends, is where I will end this part of the story. Except that to say, the stars in my crown one day are going to be GINORMOUS.

When Carter wasn’t playing slave to his creative juices, he would wait until he heard us downstairs thereby confirming the coast was clear. He would then silently creep from his room into another upstairs room and wreak havoc. It was the silent part that was the concern because although our house is for the most part child-proofed, there are some areas that would require us to install a gigantic metal locker in them in order for them to be completely safe that’s just not practical. One of those is our master bathroom. Every child safety device we’ve tried in there, he has defeated within days. Yet, that was seemingly his favorite room. We'd hear him up there only if he accidentally dropped or rattled something. Not much inspires panic as effectively as a child in your master bathroom.

We tried all the usual tricks to get him to stay in his room; threats, bribes, Jeff would even sit outside his door for 30 minutes at a stretch waiting for him to open the door. But Carter even got wise to that. It was not unlike him to pretend to be asleep just until Jeff checked on him and left. Then he would sneak out. It was about that time that we had another family with 3-kids over for dinner and were able to ask them what they were doing that was working. Parenting, for me, is a unique blend of strategizing and blatantly stealing other parents’ ideas. I’m sure prayer should be in there somewhere too, but in this case it did not have the desired outcome - that being an angel with a sword prepared to smite Carter down if he dare even touch the door. Because that is specifically what I requested.

Anyway, the much smarter parents we dined with happily said they were locking theirs in. That sounded ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT to us. So the next day we went out and got a couple of locking doorknobs and Jeff installed them. Worked like a charm. Nap time resumed in our home without incident. Until today.

I put all three kids down for naps at 1:30pm and headed downstairs to work for a couple of hours. All was blissfully quiet for about 45 minutes, but then out of the corner of my eye I saw a little person trying awfully hard to sneak past me down the stairs. I probably wouldn't have noticed him, but he was wearing a Tennessee orange jacket that's not exactly subtle. Here, I'll give you a visual.
Yeah, I know. Bright huh? And stealth is usually his strong suit. I'm sure it was just an ever-so-brief lapse in judgement.

Obviously, I had forgotten to lock Carter’s door. What normally happens at nap time is that we set a timer for an hour or so. When Carter hears the timer, regardless of whether or not he has slept, he knows he can leave the room and come downstairs to play. But if he makes noise, or we hear him running around, or he needs to come out of his room for any reason before the timer dings, we start the timer over again from the beginning. He knows the drill, and for the most part it is fairly effective. In this case, the timer had not gone off, so I marched him back up the stairs, pushing in on the lock as I entered the room to make sure I didn’t forget to lock it on my way out.

And then I closed the door behind me.

To be continued… as if it’s even necessary.

(For those of you concerned about fire safety, I promise we just keep the doors locked until we know without a shadow of a doubt that they are truly asleep. This usually requires a physical manifestation such as drooling.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Ever Have A Dream That Featured 6 Million of Something You Don't Have, But Desperately Need?

This is what our Dream looks like on paper. It came from Kenya by way of diplomatic pouch last week. I thought it an appropriate way for a dream of this magnitude to arrive.

I'm so emotional about finally being able to have a tangible picture of our cooperative vision that it's rendering me completely helpless to write anything even remotely insightful, or witty, or profound. I've tried, really I have. For a couple of hours. But I just can't seem to produce coherent thoughts. All I can think is if I was a desperately struggling, orphaned child left destitute for whatever reason (the list of possibilies in a third-world African country is seemingly endless), and someone told me that I would from this moment onward be living here, I would think the impossible had occurred. That heaven had actually sought out and found me. And then, increduously, I would run all over exploring the place - being first and foremost a kid. But I would stop short when I came to a bed with my name on it. Because I've never had my own bed. If I even had a small foam mattress on the floor, I shared it with several other impoverished children in my same predicament. And if there was no mattress, which is the more likely scenario, I slept right on the cold ground. But here not only do I have my own new bed, I have new clothes, and shoes, and a school uniform, and books, and toys and...I get dinner even? And then breakfast, and lunch, and then dinner again, all in the same day?

I'd worry for a while that it wouldn't last. That eventually someone would tell me that I had to leave. That I would have to go back to a life of destitution and despair. Wondering where my next meal or drink of clean water would come from. Working from sun-up to sun-down every day despite hunger, thirst, and extreme exhaustion. Sleeping at night under a cloak of fear. But in time I would gain confidence and come to know this big stone building as my home. A place built specifically with me in mind. Where I would not only phyiscally grow and mentally thrive, but I would begin to re-experience the joy of childhood. Ultimately coming to understand what it means to be the cherished, beloved child of the King. Dear God, if even for one small child let it be so!

As I write this, I cannot help but humbly praise God that my own three children have lived thus far under the exceedingly generous, gracious, and protective hand of our Lord. They lack for nothing - a state I am alternately proud of and embarassed by. That they are not reliant on so human a couple as Jeff and I (or any member of our small team) to pull off a 6,000,000 Kenyan shilling miracle on their behalf. That is perhaps their greatest blessing of all.