We had more music in the house this Christmas than in previous years. Bernadette the eldest progressed far enough in piano to play simplified Christmas carols, and the others learned how to work the .mp3 player. Tina the three-year-old has about three favorites, among which is “Joy to the World”, which in her rendering goes as follows:
“Repeat the sounding joy! Repeat the sounding joy! Repeat the sounding joy! Repeat the sounding joy! Repeat the sounding joy! Repeat the sounding joy!”– and so on.
Tina the three-year-old has a policy whereby she always disagrees with Papa. If I say, “You are my cutsie!,” she has to say, “No, I am mama’s tootsie.” If I say, “You are Tina,” she must respond, “No, I am Tina Ree Homes” (Faustina Marie Holmes). Just this morning, as we began a conversation, I asked her, “Are you going to disagree with Papa?” “Uh-huh!” she assured me cheerfully.
So sometimes I say things just to provide some kind of reasonable provocation for the inevitable disagreement. This evening when she asked for a drink, I told her, “I will give you a drink–on your head!”
“No,” she retorted, “in my mouth!”
“Your mouth is in your head,” I pointed out.
“No,” she said, dutifully following policy but unsure how to conclude the sentence, “it’s in my…mouthy thing.”
While reading the Catechism this morning, I saw something new (to me) about the idea that the world was created for the glory of God. At least, I don’t think I saw this as clearly before.
It is not hard to grasp that God created to share his own goodness: the only other alternatives are that he created for some benefit he would derive, which is not possible, or that he created for the sake of sharing something else’s goodness, which again is not possible since anything not God is part of his creation.
What struck me this morning is the transition from there to the notion of glory. Because the greatest share of his goodness God can give is knowing and loving, and the greatest thing he could offer to be known and loved is his own goodness, it follows that the greatest share in his goodness God can give to a creature is that the creature acknowledge and praise God.
It’s hard to say exactly what makes a child “ready” for first communion, but in our parental judgment Regina the seven-year-old is not yet ready. She’s awfully sweet, but….
Today, for the first time in quite a while, she asked about it: “When will I receive my first communion?” To which her mother replied, honestly enough, “When you’re ready.”
“I hope I am ready while I am seven,” Regina continued. Ah, I thought, she begins to experience that desire, that thirst–ah, perhaps she begins to be ready. Casually, her mother asked why she hoped for that.
“Because,” she explained, “seven is the lucky number!”
I hope that’s right–I’m crossing my fingers!
My inversion table came today. It’s an impressive assembly of metal and plastic that looks vaguely like a modern rendering of the medieval rack.
That must be what inspired Jacinta to tell the kids that it is a torture device that hangs people upside down. She added something creative about a new approach to discipline and addressing bad behavior, but they never got that far. They emphatically denied that it is a torture device, and they emphatically denied that it hangs people upside down.
Once I had it assembled and they could see that, indeed, it hangs people upside down, they grew more quiet. And then when I got on it myself, they were completely set at ease.
[Blogging question: Is it redundant to italicize “emphatically”, since italics are a form of emphasis, or is that a kind of beautiful fitting of the symbol to the thing symbolized? I leave you to decide.]
As I read through the Catechism yesterday, I was struck by the comment that the revelation of the Trinity–the most fundamental doctrine of our faith, and the highest in the “hierarchy” of doctrine–was not complete until the mission of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This led me to the following thought:
The giving of revelation constitutes its recipient, the Church, while the growth of the recipient makes possible the giving of revelation: the two go together. To spell out the consequences of this idea: as long as revelation is incomplete one should expect the Church to be growing and changing in fundamental shape; and as long as the Church is growing and changing in its fundamental shape, one should expect new revelation. So it was not incidental the the fundamental doctrine of our faith was revealed completely when the Church was in a way completed. Or to put it the other way around, anyone who claims to receive new public revelation is implicitly claiming that the Church is still developing toward its fundamental shape.
This led me to a further thought, which extends and qualifies the above:
The Church could not attain its entire fundamental shape before the apostles had exercised their ministry. For example, there could not be a hierarchy in the Church before there were enough converts to have multiple congregations, and Peter had to get to Rome before the Pope could be the bishop of Rome, and somebody had to get sick before the Apostles could administer last rites, and so on and so forth. So as long as the apostles were still active, the Church was still in some way in formation and new revelation was to be expected; with the completion of the apostles’ ministry, the Church had its entire fundamental shape and so no more revelation was to be expected.
This evening, Tina the three-year-old announced her need of “colors” (crayons). Unwilling to entrust an entire box of crayons to her at once, I gave her first the yellow one, then exchanged the yellow for the orange, and so on through the five or six crayons in the box. Finally I explained to her that she had used every color in the box. “Do you want to use one of them again?”, I asked.
“Uuummmm,” Tina mused, “I want….” She made a fumbling motion with her fingers as though trying to count something. Finally she managed to stick up a thumb: “This one!” For a moment, I was at a loss: thumbs up means what now? But in the end I decided that the thumb corresponded to orange, and I handed her the appropriate item. She was ecstatic.
After a moment, she handed the orange back and fumbled with her fingers again. “I want….” She had to use her left hand to hold down the other fingers of her right hand so her right index finger could stand up alone: “This one!” I decided that the index finger corresponded to purple. “I like purple!” she exclaimed.
Upon returning the purple crayon, she fumbled again. “I want….” Now when she succeeded in getting finger #3 to stand up alone and showed it to me, there followed an awkward moment requiring careful control of the facial muscles, but I decided that finger #3 corresponded to green and we moved on. “I like green!” she said.
And so we went, all the way through finger #5. I can only guess that her finger gestures meant something like first, second, third, fourth, fifth, although no one has ever shown her such a thing. Kind of clever of her to think it up!
Tonight Jacinta and I and the older kids played Ticket to Ride. The game board is a map, and the pieces are railroad cars, and the goal is to build a network of railroads. At the beginning of the game, each player is assigned routes to accomplish, and beyond that a player wins more points for having more cars on the board, and an extra bonus for having the longest continuous chain of them. So there are a number of factors to keep in mind at once while deciding whether to draw more cards, lay down train pieces, or look at new routes: Am I making my assigned route? Am I keeping a line continuous? How do I maximize my number of cars?
Undaunted by the complexity of the situation, David the ten-year-old plugged away cheerfully. Towards the end of the game, with obvious pleasure, he used his turn to lay out two railroad cars that didn’t maximize his number of cars, didn’t keep the line continuous, and didn’t appear to make any headway toward any assigned route. “David, what are you doing?” his mother asked.
“I’m adding the feet to my flamingo,” he explained. And suddenly we all saw that David was winning his own private contest: all his railroad cars taken together made an elaborate picture of a long-legged bird.
The humor of the situation didn’t come just from the suddenness of the revelation, or from the untroubled contentment on David’s face. It was also funny because all of us with our long, continuous railways suddenly saw that–Hey! My cars don’t make a picture!
The challenge in this Funny Thing of Today project, I have found, is not locating the funny thing. Between founding a college with 120 teenagers at work and overseeing a family with six kiddos back home, I’m awash in funny things. The trick is locating a funny thing that still comes across as funny in writing. If it’s a “You kinda had to be there” moment, then it does nothing for this blogger.
So at dinner tonight, Tina the three-year-old announced that she did not like her dinner. “It’s icky!” she shouted. “Your pasta is not icky,” her mother replied serenely, but Tina repeated: “My pasta is icky!”
“Have some beans.”
“My beans are icky!”
Whereupon Tina flung her head back as far as it would go and pooched out her lips in that ultra-pouty expression that–well, are you a parent? Then you’ve seen the expression I mean. “Poochy lips!” went up the cry from kids around the table, “Tina’s doing the poochy lips!”
And in a moment of inspiration, I added to the chorus: “Icky poochy lips!”
Then commenced a great battle on Tina’s face. The whole notion, the sound, the texture of the very words “icky poochy lips” filled her three-year-old soul with giggles, but her stubborn three-year-old irascibility wanted to maintain the poochy lips, icky or no. Her lips, stuck out as far as her little facial muscles could extend them, writhed and wriggled between pooch and grin. Then all collapsed, and a smile broke over her face like sunrise over the prairie.
“No,” she said, laughing, “not icky!”
And I laughed the rest of the evening. It was–well, it was–well, I guess you just had to be there.
The circumstances for Funny Thing of Today #3 were not so funny. The little girls made such a hash of their bedroom that they couldn’t clean it themselves, so Jacinta went to work on it. While she was in the back room, the little darlings pulled out all the children’s hats and mittens and threw them around the kitchen. She made them pick that mess up and then went back to continue excavations in their bedroom, and while she was gone again they snuck paint up from the basement to play at face painting.
OK, so maybe that’s a little bit funny. In retrospect.
Enter Papa, also known as The Enforcer. I recounted the sad series of events to Regina, who at seven years old is the oldest and the ringleader of the three. “So why did you bring the paint up?”, I concluded. “Why did you do that?”
In a voice full of woe, Regina replied, “I guess I must have lost my mind!”