On Snails and Heaven

Naomi has been a handful today.  She’s tired, waaaay over-sugared, and fairly under-napped as well, since Malachi just HAD to go get his light-saber rightthisminute and forgot she was asleep.  We went to an evening church service tonight. After church the kids ran around in vicious circles screaming and playing and knocking stuff over and sticking their hands in my water (Just, why?) until I was dun-dun-DONE and we left. Titust cried all the way home (poor, sleepy baby). When we got home and it was time to go inside, Naomi was dawdling and then turned around to look at the snail on the sidewalk.

There’s this awkward commercial (here it is) where the guy opens with, “Has anyone else been experiencing a snail infestation?” and I always yell, “Yes! ME!” because every time it rains we get tons of them all over our walkway. It was raining on the way home from church so when we got home – snails. Everywhere, snails.

Naomi: turns around
Jeremy: Naomi, don’t step on the snail!
Naomi: crunch
Me: Naomi! Daddy said no! You killed the snail! It was alive and now it’s dead.

Yes, I actually said that. I shouldn’t have – but I was mad and tired and stressed out and really, really ready for bedtime.  Naomi sauntered proudly into the house with quite the unfazed smirk on her face and I started the “Jackets off! Shoes off! Someone get the baby his paci!” routine when I looked up and noticed Malachi’s lip was quivering.

“What’s the matter, buddy.”

“I’m sad because Naomi stepped on the snail!”

And then he burst into tears.

You guys: this was heartbreaking. 99% of the time if my kids are crying it’s because they’ve been hurt or they’ve been punished. They are little, they haven’t experienced any kind of death yet, and it’s rare that true, genuine, innocent sadness happens. But here it was, sitting in my lap (barely fitting), crying on my shoulder because his sister killed the snail.  After a few minutes he asked me,

 

“But why did Nani kill it?”

“I’m not sure, buddy.”

At this point I notice that Naomi is staring out the window, refusing to look at Malachi and I, completely expressionless. It scares me a little how she can detach herself from things. I turn her face towards me.

“Naomi, you need to tell Malachi you’re sorry.”

Two big tears roll out of Naomi’s eyes, and she quivers, “I’m sorry, Malachi.”  I pull her into my arms and let her cry.

Me: “Naomi, I forgive you.  This is why Daddy told you no, and why you should listen when we say no. He was trying to save the snail and to save you from being sad about the snail.”

Malachi:  “But I’m sad Nani killed the snail.”

Me: “I know, buddy.  It’s sad when something dies.  But you know what?  Jesus tells us that every time a leaf falls, or a bird sings, or a snail dies, He sees it and He cares.  Because He made the world and He loves it.”

Malachi: “How will the snail get un-dead, Mama?”

Me: “Well, it won’t, buddy.  It’s dead now.  But it’s ok – there’s lots of other snails.  God made a lot of snails.”

Malachi: “But I want ALL of the snails to be alive!”

Me: “I know, buddy.  But if snails never died the whole world would be full of snails!  Sometimes animals die to make room for new animals.”

Malachi: “But if Jesus loves the snail, why did He let it die?”

Me: deep breath… “Well buddy, even when Jesus loves something, He still sometimes lets it die. Everything that is alive dies sometime.  Animals die.  People die one day.  Flowers die.  It’s how the world works.”

Malachi: “But isn’t Jesus really sad about the snail?  That Nani killed His snail He made?”

Me: “I’m sure Jesus is sad that the snail died.  But you know what?  He’s more sad that you are sad, and that you are sad, Nani.  He cares a lot more about you than about the snail.”

Malachi: “But how can Jesus love Nani if she was bad and killed the snail?”

Me: “Malachi, have you ever done something bad?”

Malachi: “Yes.”

Me: “And did I still love you?”

Malachi: “Yes.”

Me: “Well, Jesus loves us, even when we do something bad, he still loves us so, so, so, so much.  And Nani, just like I forgive you and Malachi forgives you, Jesus forgives you, too! And he wants you to be happy.”

Naomi: “But it was an accident, Mama.”

Me: “No, you didn’t step on him by accident. You stepped on him on purpose. But you probably didn’t mean to kill him, did you?”

Naomi: “No.”

Me: “Why did you step on him, Naomi?”

Naomi: “I wanted him to move out of the way.”

Me: “Well, next time why don’t you just step over the snails, ok?”

Naomi: “Ok.”

At this point both kids are in my lap, with one arm around me and one arm around each other, having completely forgiven but still sad.

Me: “You know what, guys? We don’t have to be sad anymore. One day when go to Heaven, nothing will ever die, and nothing will ever be sad! Because Jesus will be there.”

Malachi: “But what if there’s snails in Heaven and what if Nani steps on them there?”

Me: “Well, God won’t let that happen because sad things don’t happen there. And we can pray tonight that he will bring us a new snail friend tomorrow!”

Malachi: “But what if Nani steps on the snails tomorrow?!?!”

Me: “Are you going to step on them, Naomi?”

Naomi: “NO! I’m not.”

Me: “That’s good!  See, Malachi?  It’ll be ok.”

This whole time Jeremy was putting a crying, over-tired baby down for bed, so we finally went upstairs and got ready for bed. Naomi went potty all by herself without any prompting (this is HUGE) and that helped everyone feel happier and gave me a good reason to act (and be) super, super proud of her. We read our bedtime story with both kids cuddled up together in Naomi’s bed. When we prayed, we thanked Jesus for dying on the cross and rising again so we could live with Him forever. We asked him to take care of our snail in Heaven and send us a new snail friend. Malachi got a little teary again because that boy is MADE of sensitivity and Naomi got excited that she gets to put another sticker on the chart for going potty.  All ended well.

I know more things were said that I left out – something about the snail turning into dirt to grow food for new snails to eat (which Malachi quickly interpreted as cannabalism #backpedal). And most of what I said was directed at both kids equally – Naomi listened intently to Malachi’s questions and my answers.  Now I can hear them snoring through the monitors and hopefully soaking up all the sleep their bodies need.

For children, disobediance seldom leads to true remorse or repentance, but when her actions gave pain to those around her Naomi’s heart truly grieved over and repented of her sin.  If Malachi wasn’t so sensitive, the whole thing would have blown over.  If I wasn’t so stressed, they probably would never have known that the snail actually died. And even though it was sad, sitting on my living room carpet cuddling with my teary babies and talking gently about Heaven and forgiveness and the cycle of death and new life was such a gift.  He makes all things good.  He makes all things new.

Happy Easter.

 

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Kid Convos

Update for the handful of you who don’t know me in real life (*winkwink*): We are 14 weeks along with our third!

Conversation with Naomi yesterday
Me: Do you want the new baby to be a girl or a boy?
Naomi: Boy baby.
Me: Are you sure? What if it’s a girl?
Naomi: BOY BABY!
Me: What should we name the baby?
Naomi: Scout.
Me: What should we feed the baby?
Naomi: Hmmm….water.
Me: How about milk?
Naomi: No, water.
Me: Where should the baby sleep:
Naomi: My bathroom.
Me: What should we give the baby to play with?
Naomi: Loveys.
Me: Loveys are a great idea!
Naomi: My loveys! Give new baby my loveys!
Me: ….heart melt….

Conversation with Malachi today
Me: Do you want a boy so you can have a baby brother or another baby sister?
Malachi: Another baby sister.
Me: What should we name the baby?
Malachi: Santa!

ultra

Conversations with Malachi

If you’re sniffing a theme, this is a drop in the overflowing bucket (or toilet) of Malachi jokes.

While going potty before bed:
**dramatic sigh**  Mama, is this pee-pee EVER going to come?

Right before the nursery-free Christmas Eve service that Jeremy and I in a fit of over-sugared Christmas spirit genuinely thought our kids could endure peacefully:
Malachi:  **dancing on the chair**  Pee pee pee pee pee pee pee!
Me:  Malachi, no. We don’t do that unless we are at home.  Some people don’t like to hear that, okay?
Malachi:  O-KAY!  Poo poo poo poo poo poo poo!
Me:  Malachi!  No.  I’m serious and you know better.  Stop.
Malachi:  **dramatic pause, followed by a dead-serious stare-down with me, and then broken by  GAS gas gas gas gas gas gas!

DSC_0123

After finishing his bidness, in a super high-pitched voice:
Mama! Wook at those widdle baby poo-poos! Aw, they so cute. I wanna give them hugs.

Passing our neighbors’ lighted Santa sleigh and red-nosed leader:
Wook, Mama!  It’s Santa and Sven!

At a random breakfast:
A-B-C-poop-E-pee-pooooop-H-I-J-poop-L-M-N-O-gaaaaaas!

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Let it Flipping Go

When Malachi first saw Frozen he completely fell in love just like every other child on the face of the planet. He watched it every day for over a week. He learned all the songs. We bought the book. He occupied himself for thirty minutes in the CD section of Barnes and Noble by passionately staring at a cardboard cutout of Anna and Elsa and announcing every 15 seconds, “It’s Fwozen, Mama! See it? Wook, Mama, Fwozen!”

And then all of the sudden he became so terrified of Big Snowman (the ice monster thing) that he wouldn’t even stay in the same room when the movie was on. He’d watch the first twenty minutes, hide when Anna started up the mountain, and not come back until the big snowman died approximately 45 minutes later. He became obsessed. He would flip to the page in his book with a picture of Big Snowman and stare. He had a near panic attack in the car while listening to the sound track. He couldn’t focus on his hot dog in Sam’s because 100 yards away he could see Frozen on approximately 30 flipping TV screens and he knew Big Snowman was coming. I think this trailer accurately sums up his perception of the movie for the last couple months:

So for the past two months we have impatiently and patiently waited, talked logically about how animated objects are just pretend and live in the TV, avoided TV screens where Frozen was playing, and watched other movies. And then, earlier this week, he was ready to try again. It’s possible I bribed him with popcorn, chocolate, Captain Crunch, and a toy from Toys R Us unless you think that’s excessive in which case I’m assuming you probably don’t have kids. He did it, he laughed, he decided Big Snowman is burping when he screams “Don’t come baaaack” and he gives me huge high fives every time he sits through it. He is also no longer afraid of the Wiggles or the Chica Show so hip hip hooooooray. And now we’re back to watching Frozen every day.

I was going to insert some pithy picture to illustrate my feelings about this, but I found this instead and couldn’t stop laughing.

Malachi will only tolerate Pixar movies or other animated films of equal quality. He is not to be bothered by the Jungle Book, Aladdin, Fievel, or even The Little Mermaid. He only wants Cars, Different Cars (Cars 2), Buzz-Woody, Different Buzz-Woody (Toy Story 2), Finding Nemo, or Frozen. He’s also taken to spontaneously quoting lines from these movies and confusing the daylights out of me.

Me: Thanks, buddy.
Malachi: No pwoblem.
Me: No problem, huh? Where’d you learn that?
Malachi: Like Dori says.
Me: Oh, ok.
Malachi: No pwoblem, Mama.
Me: Ok, buddy, go eat your lunch.
Malachi: No pwoblem.

During lunch with a friend, when no one was talking to Malachi he interrupts our conversation to say…
Malachi: You wanna thwow me out the window, Mama?
Me: What? What are you talking about?
Malachi: You wanna thwow me out the window, too?
Me:
Malachi: Like Potato Head say in Buzz-Woody!
Me: Good Lord, Malachi, please don’t say those things in public.

During dinner tonight when conversation lulled.
Malachi: Oh my gosh! Malachi swimmin’ out to sea!

Anytime he is annoyed with anybody.
Malachi: Don’t! Come! Baaaaaaaaaaack!

We’ve actually had to put him in time out for repeatedly screaming “Don’t come back” in my face when I tell him he has to finish his lunch or put his toys away.

Jessie: All you ever talk about is your STUPID Andy!
Malachi: Jessie, say “stupid,” Mama. Dat’s bad.
Me: You’re right, buddy, it is. She should say “silly.”
Malachi: You want to say “silly,” Jessie, ok?

I’m not sure how to wrap up this yawner of a post so…..

Conversations on the Way Home from Home Depot

Malachi:  **sigh** I miss it store.
Allie:  You’ll be ok.  We just saw the store two minutes ago.
Malachi:  I sad.
Allie:  You’re sad?
Malachi: Yes. I sad. I miss it store.
Allie (who is driving):  Text Eri-
Siri:  Ok. To whom should I send the text?
Allie:  Erin, you idiot.
Malachi: Text Ice!
Siri: Which Erin?
Allie: Croteau.
Malachi: Daddy, I text.
Jeremy: You text, huh?  Should we get you a phone?
Malachi: Yes!
Siri: Sorry, I don’t understand Croteau. Which Erin?
Allie: CRO-TEAU!
Malachi: Mommy, where’s my phone?
Allie: You’re yellow phone’s at home, buddy.
Malachi: Sigh, I miss it.
Siri: Ok, here’s your text to Erin Crah-do. Ready to send it?

Allie: Quickly reads screen, realizes it says “You idiot.”  Laughing hysterically shows screen to Jeremy, “No!”
Malachi: Hahahahahaha!
Siri: Ok. Would you like to cancel, review, or change it?
Allie: Still laughing hysterically, “Change it!”
Malachi: Hahahaha! I funny! Mommy funny!
Siri: Ok, I’ll send it.
Allie:  Nooooo!!!!
Jeremy: I think maybe you should wait until we get home to finish that text.
Allie: quickly rattles off explanatory text to Erin.
Malachi: Mommy funny, Dada.
Jeremy: I wonder what that limo is doing there.
Allie: Probably parked there to eat before prom night.
Malachi: Mommy, my head ouchie.
Allie: I’m sorry, buddy. Did you bonk it?
Malachi: Yes.
Allie: I’m sorry buddy.  It’ll be ok.
Malachi: I put band-aid on it.
Allie: Ok, we’ll get one when we get home.
Jeremy: Do you rent limos by the hour or by the evening?
Allie: I don’t know, hon, I’ve never rented one.
Malachi: Ow.
Allie:
Malachi: 
Ow.
Allie:
Malachi: Ow. Ow. Ow.
Allie: You ok buddy?
Malachi: Oh! I put band-aid on it!
Jeremy: I wonder when the limo became a thing, anyway.  It’s just a really long car.  What’s the point of that?
Allie: I guess so a bunch of people can hang out.
Malachi: Mommy, that’s dark outside.
Allie: I know, buddy.  That’s because it’s night-night time.  It gets dark when it’s night-night time.
Malachi: I watch Caillou!
Allie: No buddy, Caillou’s all done.  When we get home it’s night-night time.
Malachi: sigh, I miss it.
Jeremy: If people want to hang out they should just get a minivan.
Allie: Oh my word. This whole conversation is going on my blog later so I don’t forget it.
Malachi: Oh!  There’s dark!
Allie:
Malachi: There’s dark!
Allie:
Malachi: There’s dark!
Allie: I heard you, buddy.  Can everybody just be quiet for two minutes?  I just need quiet for two minutes.
Jeremy:  turning into our cobblestone-street neighborhood  Malachi, say “Aaaahhhh!”
Allie:  Jeremy!  Why?
Jeremy:  At least it’s consistent.
Naomi:  Blah, blah, bluh, ma, da, blah

A Secret

Last Fall I went through Beth Moore’s Bible study on secrets. The entire summary of it is this: Secrets manifest. They always do, in one way or another. Bad secrets that are never told in words are exposed in the lines on our faces, the way we treat others, the dreams we live at night, anxiety, eating disorders, anger. But there are good secrets, too. Things we keep to ourselves so that God can get the glory later.

Sometimes we confess something before the Lord privately, but we never talk about it. We carry the guilt as a secret – even though we think we’ve dealt with it, we can’t even whisper the words of it out loud.

That’s what happened to me a few months ago. It was time to go and we were late – really late. And I was tired – really tired. Malachi had been at his worst and today was no different. No matter what I told him he did the opposite. I pulled out his brown sneakers and he insisted on the white ones. I asked him to walk to the door and he had to stop in his room to get things. And then we walked to the front door and I saw it – the pile of toys I’d bought on sale for Christmas that I had accidentally left on the couch. Well of course he rushed over and absolutely ignored my every call for him to come to the door. Finally I lost it. I got angry – really, really angry. I was stressed and late and none of that was his fault, but I took it out on him. He burst into tears, upset and scared, and immediately my stomach dropped and I realized how awful the whole thing was. And for whatever reason, even after I apologized to him and prayer journaled about it, I carried that guilt for weeks. I could not get over it.

So I told my husband, thinking maybe that would help. And he understood my guilt and did not condemn. He told me he thought Malachi didn’t even remember. But it didn’t help.

I told myself I was making a bigger deal out of it than it was. I told myself that Malachi had forgiven me and I needed to forgive myself, too. I ignored the guilt that wouldn’t go away.

Then I remembered something we’d talked about in the Bible study – the power of spoken-aloud prayer. I am an avid prayer-journaler and rarely pray aloud for that reason, but one day I was in the shower and I just couldn’t take it anymore. No one was around and I just poured out my heart to God. I told Him about my guilt, about how confused I was over it. I told Him how I just couldn’t get over it and begged that He would help. I just verbally gave it over.

I did feel lighter but still not great when I sat down to do my Bible study homework that day. We were supposed to read a passage from Hebrews and as I picked up my iPod to use my Bible app, the Lord whispered, “Use your regular Bible.” I’m reading through the amplified Bible right now, and to be honest, I find it more exhausting than encouraging most of the time. So I wasn’t too excited, but I did it anyways. And this is what I read:

For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.
Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].
Hebrews 4:15-16, AMP

Tears streamed down my face. Mercy for our failures. Mercy for our failures. This was what God was trying to tell me – Yes, you did fail. But I have mercy for you. I have forgiven you. His grace isn’t just sufficient for my imperfections – He has abundant mercy even in my failure.

When I closed my Bible study book I moved on to my daily Bible reading, which passage happened to be my favorite story in all the Bible – John 21. When Peter – crazy, overzealous, relate-able, wonderful Peter – sees the Lord on the beach. He hasn’t spoken to him since before His death, and their last interaction was the knowing look Christ gave Peter right after he denied Him. Can you imagine the utter guilt Peter was feeling? So instead of helping the disciples paddle quickly to shore, Peter puts on his coat and jumps in the water, swimming for all he’s worth to reach the sand. Later, when they were walking, Christ asked him,

“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these do?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus told him, “Feed my lambs.”  Jesus said a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus told him, “Shepherd my sheep.”  Jesus said a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” and said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus replied, “Feed my sheep.”

And in that moment, after I had spoken my ugly secret into the open and laid it before the Lord in our beautiful secret place, He whispered to me, “Your children are my sheep. Shepherd them.”

God had walked me through the restoration process, and there, sitting on my bed, crying tears of joy and resting in the arms of my Father, for the first time in weeks, I was free.

He has mercy for your failures. Trust Him.

Dry Cereal and Alcohol and Quality Television and Run-On Sentences and Run-On Blog Titles

You know you’ve had a long day when you are eating dry Cheerios and drinking champagne before the kids are even in bed. Malachi also has a habit of taking a sip of any drink he sees sitting around, no matter whose it is or how old it is or how long its been sitting in the hot car or whether or not it’s fermented.

“Nummy Mommy soda!”
“All done, Malachi! No more Mommy soda! That’s yucky!”
“No, nummy Mommy soda! More Mommy soda!”
“How about a lollipop?”
“Yay, yahyeepop yay! Hahahahaha ta-da!”

The younger me that swore she’d never bribe her children or sit on the couch and watch TV while they clambered over her feet begging for attention “just” because she was tired (so selfish) would maybe be horrified but hopefully she’d just be amused and assume it was a rare occurrence. Which really, it is, kind of, mostly.

My two-year-old’s new favorite game is called “Smack the baby on the head over and over until Mommy reaches me and throws me in timeout” followed closely by “Push her over onto the floor and laugh.” And said baby is cutting four teeth.

So.

Here’s your violin, please play me a song, because no other mother has ever had it as rough as me.

But it is the Christmas season and my house is all decorated, and every time I pulled a new decoration out of the box Malachi would gasp and whisper “Wow!” in the most perfect wonder-filled kid-voice ever. He likes to spit on my Christmas carousel because it’s the only way he knows how to blow and he wants to get it to spin “me-self!” with out any help from me. And every time he passes one (and I have a LOT), he announces “Nutcwackah!” Naomi is teething and stuffy which = finally letting me rock her to sleep again and actually cuddling with me for more than .5 seconds at a time and I love it soooooo much.

And even though I’m sitting here eating dry Chex (YOLO!) and watching Dirty Dancing for the thirty-somethingth time (I really wish that was an exaggeration) and then subsequently being appalled at the trashy commercials on VH1 (shocker) because apparently I have higher expectations of a channel that would air Dirty Dancing on a regular basis and I don’t know how I was planning on finishing that sentence, but it’s gone on long enough, don’t you think? Anyways, life is good. Good enough that I’ve been living it the past couple weeks instead of blogging about it

But Imma blog it up now. Buckle your seat belts for an overload of drama because if anyone can create enough drama to dedicate an entire online diary to, it’s a stay-at-home-mom. And no, I won’t stop blogging about my kids ever ever because, you know…

Nobody puts baby in a corner.