the giver

December 26, 2006

My brother made me cry. No, he didn’t pull my ponytail, take away my Barbie doll, or call me a sissy . . .
Rather, he gave me a gift. And this gift brought tears to my eyes. Not so much because of the gift itself; more so, it was because of what it made me realize about my brother. Suddenly my baby brother has become a thoughtful, and intentional, young man. Granted, the apparent suddenness of this transformation is probably largely due to my distance from him during his recent adult years, but each encounter with his “grown-up” self catches me off guard all the same.
This particular encounter began with his shopping for the other brother. For the few days prior to Alex’s arrival, Ian had been on a quest for a full-size paint-by-number kit. It took some time to locate what he was looking for but, in his typical laid back way, he would not be daunted by the number of stores that he did not have success with. And finally, he found it. Alex was not expecting this and, truthfully, he wasn’t sure what to make of it when he first opened it. Ian explained that a roommate of his had done one a while back, and that Ian had seen it, been impressed, and thought Alex would enjoy it.
What I see in this instance is Ian’s quiet thoughtfulness. He knows Alex is a dabbler of sorts, always interested in trying something new—from ballroom dance to water polo, from barber shop quartet to poetry writing, my high school math teaching brother is always up for a new challenge. Painting is one area in which he has not yet had any experience, and it is a difficult one to jump into for someone who doesn’t necessarily have a great amount of patience with what may seem at first like failure. But he will be thrilled to be able to hang a piece of his own artwork on the wall of his new apartment, and paint-by-number will be an easy initiation into an otherwise possibly inaccessible art, relatively speaking. And Ian knew that. So he set his sights on the perfect gift and drove the hour-long trek to get to the store that carried it.
As for my gift . . . I opened the small package to find a uniquely formed blue and gold cream pitcher. I held it up admiring it and thinking about how I didn’t actually own one, and how it matches the set of dinnerware that I use daily at my place. As I did, Ian explained, with a laughing apology, that he had bought that for me back when he went to South Africa and had forgotten to give it to me till now. Then I saw that there was something inside the pitcher; he had placed a neat roll of bills that I realized amounted to a significant chunk of change. He had decided to contribute to the purchase of my first personal computer, and had done so in a very generous manner. That is when I cried, being overwhelmed by his kindness, utterly impressed by his maturity, and humbled by my own tendency to worry. I so quickly lose trust in God’s goodness, and in His provision, and sometimes He catches me off guard by using those closest to me to teach me [again!] that lesson.

house rules

December 24, 2006

Knowing to expect a zoo of a household is one thing. Adjusting to the reality of it is another. The zoo I am referring to is that of my home—or at least the home of my mother that is, by nature of it being hers, mine as well. Obviously, this is not the home I grew up in—when she married, Mom moved to New Hampshire with my stepfather. But it being my mother’s home, it is now endowed with all the qualities that made our home what it was when I was a child as well . . . cats and dogs abounding, clutter reigning, and happy insanity all around.
My own tendency is towards a decidedly more calm environment . . . if I am honest, I should probably admit to being a neat freak, in what I hope is a laid back sort of way ☺ It is something I think about more often when here at Mom’s place, understandably.
At any rate, what I was going to write about was my initiation into the nature of home as it is here. I arrived late Wednesday night, and my brother picked me up at the airport for our long drive out into the “sticks” where home is now. I went straight to bed that night, sleeping in the neighbor’s guest room, thanks to a shortage of beds here. So when I woke up in the morning, Mom had left for work already and the rest of the house was asleep still. As a quiet-morning person, this was fine with me. I started the coffee, cleared a spot at the table, and opened a book for some morning breakfast table reading.
As soon as I sat down with my coffee and cereal, I felt a jolt behind me. Leaning back in my chair, I discovered that Poldi [a very cat-like cat, with a long history at this house and, previously, at my sister’s] had joined me in my chair. I absentmindedly nudged him down and returned to my breakfast. A moment later, a motion drew my eyes up to the table in front of me, where I saw that Poldi was now on the table, walking towards me. Daring to presume he should not be on the dining room table, I then ordered him “Down!” with a wave of my hand. He promptly turned on his heel and jumped down . . . or rather, he made a motion as to appear that he was jumping. Instead, he paused when on his haunches and stealthily peered back towards me. I didn’t realize this until I looked up again, and realized he was still there. This time I stood and lightly smacked him, assuring that he completed the move. And I returned, again, to my breakfast . . . another motion in the corner of my eye . . . This time Poldi had quietly made his way up on the opposite corner of the table, where piles of papers and knickknacks nearly kept him from being visible. Not near enough, however. I still enforced my own rule that time, but I also was rather amused at his almost-successful enforcement of his rules in this pet-ruled abode.

all in a name

December 15, 2006

It was a perfectly legitimate, usual sort of news program, accompanying my usual afternoon commute. But I’m afraid that I lost all serious concentration as soon as the NPR commentator had introduced the scientific expert by name. From that point on I giggled girlishly, repeating his name out loud for my own listening pleasure as the poor man unknowingly continued the report on his research findings . . . Mr. Lambkin Butts will hold an unsought special slot in my mental archives from this point on :-)

where’s the manual?

December 5, 2006

The other two children and I were debating the finer aesthetic points of Mr. Potato Head’s features when I heard a “Hey!” from down the hall. Then, after a moment, a louder and considerably more insistent, “Hey!” Assuming myself to be the likely intended audience I handed Trevor the red, oblong nose and yellow-rimmed spectacles and headed in the direction of the voice.
There on the loo sat an increasingly impatient little one who, when I looked at him questioningly for a moment, ordered [with some measure of annoyance at my slow heeding of the call], “Wipe my bottom!”
So I dutifully went to obey my orders and he duly bent over to assist in the operation. It was then that I realized the last time I was in charge of bottom-wiping was quite some time ago, and it was for a little girl. I was, in short, feeling a bit rusty in my bottom-wiping skills. But I did it and then asked if that was ok, not expecting a reply. He did, however, reply, to inform me that it was not, in fact, good enough. I tried again. Still not done correctly. And again. Finally I informed him that it was enough, and I had him hop up, pull-up, and re-zip.
But I suppose I must humbly admit that I am a failure at bottom-wiping . . .