Monday, February 21, 2005

of clocks and chicks

Lately, Tera has developed a not-so-precious habit.

Whenever we're readying ourselves to go somewhere, and she beats me to it, she takes it upon herself to push me along.

"I’ll be in the car," she'll say. Those may be the words that come out of her mouth, but I can read the subtext in her tone. She's really saying, Boots and saddles, Mother. Put the brush down.

Maybe I'm the only parent on the planet to react the way I do, but I'm not easily motivated by the pushing of nine-year old children. In fact, I have a tendency to dig my heels in whenever they try that tactic.

Yesterday morning I was locked in the bathroom, hating my hair and urging one of my flips to behave. Tera decide I'd been in there long enough and it was Go Time.

"I’ll be in the car," she announced through the closed bathroom door. I pictured those little lips all pursed and irritated.

I felt a beginning twinge of annoyance myself. "Did I tell you to go to the car?" I asked.


"Then why do you feel you need to go to the car?"

She couldn't very well say, "Because it's time to hit the road, already. And I'm hoping to set an example for you." So she thought for a quick second, and came up with a safer answer. "Because I have to put my suitcase out there."

She’d been invited to a sleepover after church at Madison's house. (Madison is a quirky, funny friend I’ll most definitely be writing about in the future.) Tera and I had already had an altercation about the suitcase; she wanted to bring her clothes and pillow and blanket in a series of recycled plastic grocery bags; I argued that we bought her that mini red suitcase-on-wheels for occasions such as this and she didn’t need to show up at Madison’s looking like a hobo.

She took the suitcase to the car and came back. I heard her pacing in the hall, her footsteps screaming out, Your hair looks as good as it's possibly going to get.

After two minutes of loudly walking the three-foot square area outside my door, she asked, with poorly hidden exasperation, "Can I go out to the car?"

I decided to grant permission. Sometimes I'm benevolent like that. If the child wanted to sit out in the frost-covered car and wait, I’d let her. Now, if I thought she was in any danger out there--if I thought she might lose a toe to frostbite or slip into a hypothermic coma--I would have denied her request. But this is not Alaska in January. This is the Northwest in late February. My lilacs are budding. Just five feet from the very car in question, petunias are popping up. She'd be chilly, all right, but she'd live.

"You can if you want," I said. That's what my mouth said, but I had my own subtext, and it went something like, I'm the mother here, little missy, and the keeper of all clocks and timetables. I'll saddle up when I'm good and ready.

She doesn't always catch the hidden meaning in my tone. I just know, as Tera stomped her way down the walkway, she thought she’d won.

Oh, when will they learn?

I am a rock, a fortress of determination, a wall of bigger-than-yours stubbornness. My children should know this. But it's uncanny how often they forget.

I finished my hair. She'd been right; it was as good as it was going to get. And then, looking at the clock and realizing we didn't have to leave for another forty minutes, I made myself some Orange Chamomile green tea and drank the whole cup while checking my email and reading the obituaries. Then while putting my cup and tea bag-squeeze thingy in the dishwasher, I noticed the kitchen table needed a good swiping, so I cleaned that. And then, with a good twenty minutes to go, I picked up my knitting.

She was remarkably contrite when she finally walked back in. "Let me know whenever you're ready to go," she said, trying to squelch a shiver.

"Ten minutes, Hon." I said.

Right on time--with a whole 45 seconds to spare, in fact--we locked the door and walked to the car. I was sliding into the front seat when I heard a surprising sound. I heard a peep.

I knew the sound. I'd heard it a hundred times before, but never in February.

"It can't be," I said to Tera. But it was. We stood together in front of the chicken coop and watched a tiny yellow wing wave at us from under the bottom boards of the coop.

I bent down and moved some dirt, freeing the chick from his prison. He shot out--right into my hand.

It's far too early for chicks. They need warm sun and bugs and water without ice floating in it. But apparently one of the hens had her own schedule.

I cupped the little guy close and breathed slowly on his feathers to warm him. He thanked me with a kiss right on my lips. Sure, some would call it a peck--but isn't that just another word for kiss?

We brought him some water, which he politely scooped into his pencil lead-sized beak and swallowed. We crushed some layer pellets for him and scattered them on the ground, then set him down nearby and waited to see if he'd eat.

I worried about him all the way to church, because it's a cat-eat-chick world out there, and our cat Kipper, pacing outside the chicken yard, had looked just a little too interested in the new tenant.

We ended up arriving at church five minutes late. If I'm not mistaken, God was teaching me a lesson. I think He used that little chicklet to remind me Who really keeps all the clocks and timetables. It would seem it's not me after all.

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4 Comment:

At 2/22/2005 10:02 AM, Blogger Joan had this to say ...

Thanks for the reminder of God's sovereignty and rule over time. I needed to hear that today. :o)
Blessings to you,

At 2/23/2005 5:39 AM, Blogger Maurice had this to say ...

God is definitely sovereign! Thanks for the personal testimony reminding us of that truth.

At 2/26/2005 8:49 AM, Anonymous Diane had this to say ...

Beautiful, Shannon. And knowing and loving Tera as I do, this one totally made me smile. :) I am so blessed by your Windscraps and check it regularly. God continues to use you in the most amazing ways. I love you bunches and pray for you daily!!

At 2/28/2005 9:03 PM, Blogger Cheryl had this to say ...

Boy, I could use a little girl like Tara around HERE! If I'm lucky enough to find my children when I'm running out the door 15 minutes late for church, they usually choose that moment to realize that they urgently need to use the potty! (And, I don't mean for a "tinkle"!) ;-)


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