As a parent of two kids, having only one kid around reminds me of bathing suits.
I remember from my swim team days that the really good, big kids would wear two bathing suits sometimes to practice. The idea was that two suits = more drag = more work = stronger muscles. Then when the meet would come and they’d wear only one suit, swimming would be noticeably easier.
Hear me: I’m not at all suggesting that my two kids are a drag. I promise.
I’m just saying that they are constantly working out my parenting muscles, and when I get the unexpected blessing of hanging out with just one of them, I sometimes feel that easy-breezy feeling of swimming with just one suit.
Tonight would be no exception.
Chica is spending the night with Nana so that she can get to her early morning violin lesson on time. While Jay drove her over, Bubba and I were left to finish cleaning up dinner and do bedtime. Chica’s usually our resident table clearer, so without her here, I tagged Bubba for the job. This was after, of course, surveying that what was left on the table was (mostly) three-year-old friendly.
His first instructions were to put his cup in the sink and his straw in the trashcan. Easy enough, right?
Next thing I know all of the water from his cup is dripping down the cabinet and into a puddle in front of the sink. Not easy enough, apparently.
This is what I wanted to say: “Bubbaaaaaaaa!!!!! Ugggghhhhhh!!!! How hard could it be??? Seriously? Get out of here and sit on the sofa. For a long time. Now!” And again for effect, “Ughhhhh!!!”
Maybe it was the one kid/bathing suit thing. Maybe it was his sweet little stunned look. Maybe it was me finally learning to listen to Jesus in the moments that count. Whatever the reason, I took a nice long pause, and instead managed a calm, “Why did that happen?”
“I was trying to pour the water into the sink through my straw.”
“That was a bad choice, Bub. What will you do next time?”
He points, “Straw-trashcan. Cup-sink.”
“You’re right. Like I asked you to.” Still with a calm that I so rarely manage, “Well, what do you think we should do now?”
“I don’t know.”
While it occurred to me that his answer might have been in an attempt to avoid what was coming next, it is also entirely possible that he just didn’t know what to do. Chica usually fetches the spill cleaner-uppers (aka leftover cloth diapers), so with her gone, I figured this was a good time for him to learn.
“Come with me. I’ll show you where the good towels are.”
So I proceeded to show him how to open up the towel wide, lay it on the spill, and wipe back and forth. He was rather bothered by the bunching up at first, but he quickly got over it…and then into it actually! Realizing it was going to take a while, I went back to loading the dishwasher. Despite my calmness, I also decided that one spill was plenty for this night, so I finished clearing the table myself.
At one point I grabbed somebody’s cup that held a few leftover ice cubes. Not thinking, I slung them into the sink and onto a metal baking sheet….right above where Bubba was working.
“Whoa! That was loud, Mommy.”
“You’re right, Bub. Sorry.”
“You made a bad choice, Mommy.”
“Well….I’m not sure it was a bad choice. I was just dumping the cup out, and it hit the pan.”
And then, with exactly the same tone I had used on him minutes earlier…
“Where should you put the ice next time, Mommy?”
Yes, I did eventually answer him, but only after laughing out loud. Touché, Bubba. Touché.
My prayer these days is to live in the Kingdom. By some strange path, bathing suits and a spilled cup of water and my funny little Bubba have all lead me back there, back here, to contemplating the Kingdom some more.
I hold lots of jobs as Mom. Dishwasher loader. Backpack emptier. Bath giver. Booboo patcher. Smoothie maker.
I’m starting to think I should maybe add Kingdom tour guide to my résumé. Even though I admittedly don’t fully get it myself, I am introducing them to a kingdom….whether it be my own or the Kingdom.
What will they see?
Blessed are the merciful…
Or blessed are the ones that don’t make a mess?
If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles…
Or give a little extra only when you don’t have homework and aren’t too tired?
Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…
Or seek first the approval and admiration of others?
Jesus, give me the strength to introduce my two little people to your kingdom, one spilled glass at a time.