Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Anna's Reality, Take 2

There are a few parental issues that each family has to decide for themselves. One of these is the issue of shooting and playing guns. Do you ban it altogether? Let them shoot whatever and whoever they want? Buy them guns? Not buy them guns?

In our house, we have gone with a compromise. We don't actively buy them weaponry, but we realize that the reality is they are going to pretend to shoot bad guys with whatever they find anyway (case in point later in this story), so we laid down this ground rule: no shooting real people. You can pretend to shoot only imaginary bad guys. No pointing anything pretending to be a gun at any real live person, only pretend bad guys.

Tonight we went out to dinner, and in the midst of my turkey sandwich, I heard Anna go: "Yeah, Daddy, I shot you!" I looked down to see that her potato chip was in the shape of a gun. (See, they do it anyway!) I said, "Anna, were you pointing that at Daddy?"

"Yes," she said, nodding her head vigorously. (I'll give Anna this, she almost always tells the truth about her escapades.)

"Anna," I said sternly, "We don't shoot real people. We only shoot pretend bad guys. Daddy isn't pretend, and he isn't a bad guy." (Sean was nodding along and echoing the sentiment.)

"But Daddy!" Anna exclaimed, "I'm PRETENDING you're a BAD GUY!"

In terms of semantics, let's face it - she had us there.

And we have now amended the rule to invisible pretend bad guys.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Anna's Reality

Our kids like to take books and toys to bed with them at night. That's fine, we have no problem with that. Whatever keeps them in their beds. However, we do have one rule: no library books. We have approximately 1,582 books in our house. They don't have to take the library books to bed with them. I don't have a problem with them reading the books in bed; the problem comes after they fall asleep but before we wake them up to use the bathroom around midnight. If one of them wets the bed or overflows the nighttime pull-up - both scenarios being real possibilities - then we have to buy the library YET ANOTHER replacement book, and at the rate that we have to do that, I am sure our name is on a list somewhere at our local library. So, for the sake of the checking account and our library's good graces, the rule is no library books in bed.

Tonight, as Sean was putting the kids to bed, Anna wanted to take a book called Three Little Bears Play All Day to bed with her. This has been one of the favorite books for the kids lately; however, it is a library book, so Sean explained once again that she couldn't take it to bed with her. A little while later, the kids called for him to come to their room, and upon his arrival they informed him that the "Bear book" had fallen behind Anna's bed.

My husband is a pretty smart guy, so he put two and two together and realized that if the book was behind Anna's bed, this must mean that at some point it had been in Anna's bed. Putting on his best stern Daddy face and voice, he said, "Now Anna, why was this book in your bed to begin with? You know we are not supposed to have library books in bed."

Her response:

"I don't want to call it a library book anymore."

Oh to live in Anna's world.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

He Cares About the Little Things...to Infinity and Beyond

Joshua, my firstborn, turned five today. FIVE. That is a major milestone in life! He has officially moved into the "kid" arena and away from the "toddler" stage. No longer do any of his clothes have a "T" after the size. We're in the big-time now, people!

This means he is old enough to understand the concepts of time and age, so this is the first birthday that has really meant anything to him. Consequently, he has spent the last month in a dramatic countdown to his birthday. "Is it March yet? How many days till my birthday? Is it MARCH 13TH YET?! " He is also old enough to know what he wants for his birthday, and this year he wanted one thing more than anything else:

A real Buzz Lightyear toy.

Not some little action figure, but the big one. The one from the movie. The one that talks, has a laser, has wings, all the trimmings. The one that is outrageously expensive for a piece of plastic.

We don't have tons of money, but this is the one thing he really wanted, so we were weighing options when suddenly we received an unexpected blessing: a Toys R Us gift card! Praising God for His provision, we headed off to the toy store of all toy stores to find the real, one and only, Buzz Lightyear himself.

Today the big day arrived, and as Joshua tore off the wrapping paper, his eyes lit up and he started jumping up and down upon seeing his little heart's desire. My husband and I grinned at each other as we watched him grow more and more excited as I set about the Herculean task of getting the thing out of the package. (Why do they DO that?! I practically needed an engineering degree to get the packaging torn off!)

As we started looking over the toy together, we pushed the buttons to hear all the different sayings it was supposed to have, and then it happened:

They didn't work.

Not really, anyway. Not the way they were supposed to. This Buzz toy was supposed to have about 16 different sayings from the movie. But we could only get it to say one, and that one was cut off. What's more, the "blast off" sound wasn't right. Instead of being a long, drawn out, space shuttle sound effect, it was just this short little blast noise.

Something was wrong. And I felt my heart sink in my chest.

Joshua was so anxious to play with it that he didn't give it too much thought. He looked disappointed, but he wanted to play with it anyway, so he took it off to see what he could make it do. My husband and I looked at each other.

"We could take it back," Sean said.

"To Toys R Us?" I asked. We don't live in a town with Toys R Us, we had to travel two hours to get to the closest one. "That would mean packaging it back up, putting it away so he couldn't play with it, waiting until we could make the trip again..."

"No, I guess not. He'll be all right," Sean said, trying to convince both of us.

Right then I had a thought: pray for the toy.

Pray for the toy to work? Really? There are earthquakes and tsunamis shaking the earth, nuclear reactors melting down, people dying by the thousands, and I am going to take the time to pray for a measly Buzz Lightyear toy?

I looked at Joshua, who was disappointed but doing all right, and I looked at my husband, who looked frustrated, and I considered how God had provided for this gift and how disappointed I was, and I thought, well, why not?

So we prayed right there for the toy to start working. We prayed God would fix it or show us what needed to be fixed. We prayed, right then and there, for a Buzz Lightyear toy to work the way it was intended.

Then I took a nap, and later we went to church for our evening service.

Towards the end of the service, my husband ran over to me and said "I forgot to tell you when you woke up! BUZZ LIGHTYEAR WORKS NOW!"

"What?!" I said, in disbelief. (Why do we not expect answers when we pray?)

Yes, indeed, Buzz was fixed. Anna had thrown him down on the ground, and something got jarred...and started working beautifully.

That is a fantastic answer to prayer in itself. But what was an even greater answer to many prayers that have been lifted on Joshua's behalf was the conversation we had with him later that night. Sean was playing with Joshua and Buzz and talking about how God had fixed Buzz. Joshua said, "Yeah, I heard you and Mommy pray for Buzz Lightyear, and now he WORKS!!"

All of this may seem insignificant. But it is not insignificant to me. God wants to be in constant communication with us about everything, and He cares about the seemingly little things. Things that seem little to us are not to little to God. One thing He has been teaching me lately is about comparing. You can't compare one situation to another. As humans, we want to put everything in terms of degrees - well, this is more important than this, but THIS is more important than THAT. God doesn't work that way. Important is just important to Him. He cares about the sparrow, and He cares about you. He cares about the thousands of people dying in Japan, and He cares about my son's Buzz Lightyear.

And such events have more of a lasting impact than one might think. Five years from now - heck, six months from now - we might not even know where Buzz Lightyear is. Buzz will eventually loose his luster in Joshua's eyes and get passed on to the next kid or the next yard sale. However, the significance of the connection that Joshua made between prayers and answers is a life-impacting one. He might not know or care where that toy is in five years - but he will, hopefully, remember that God answered our prayers about fixing it and made a little boy's birthday even more special than it had been.

Happy Birthday, Joshua, and may you continue to grow in your knowledge and joy in the Lord all the days of your life. Don't forget how He served you in this day. I know I never will.