Pray Without Ceasing

Categorized as 05/19/08 Goshen News article

Grant’s experience growing up was entirely different. He is the oldest of five, all of whom were born in six years to the day. They were a busy, well-organized little band of hooligans whose capers have been eerily similar to some that our own offspring have pulled. For one year exactly, they were all five teenagers with all the attendant action, drama, and financial drain that teenagers bring. There were graduations galore for a number of years, followed later by a virtual stampede to the altar by the youngest three who all got married in one year’s time. Their mother has only just returned from a villa of her own in the south of France.

With such disparate ages, the issues we deal with on any given day run the gamut from temper tantrums to college applications. The reality of this struck me again one day this week as I was thinking about the upcoming graduation and open house.

The last few weeks have been a dizzying whirl of year-end details – ordering and picking up senior pictures, addressing invitations, ordering a cake, reserving the tent, attending the final choir concert, cheering at the last track meet, and getting another scholarship application in by deadline. All of this is accompanied by the slamming of the back door as the senior rushes in and out.

As if this weren’t enough action, the toddler is singlehandedly keeping us all in state of high alert. With him, it’s chronic Code Orange. If Homeland Security were to raise the alert to red, I wouldn’t so much as twitch. The rest of you would finally be catching up to us. Only a missile headed in my direction would cause me greater alarm. Here’s why.

His brand-new trick this week has been squiggling out of all his clothes except his shirt when he’s supposed to be sleeping. I think it began as a protest one day during naptime. Hearing thumps and chattering issuing from his room, I trotted in to investigate. There he stood in his crib, wearing nothing but a little striped T-shirt. His jeans, socks, diaper, and blanky were lying on the floor below. The next morning when he woke up and his father went to get him, there he was again, wearing only his PJ shirt with the big red crab on it. His diaper, daddy reported, was dry as a bone. His bedding, unfortunately, was not.

Now, right under “weapons check,” I have penciled in “diaper check” on my to-do list. When a friend helpfully suggested duct tape suspenders, I added, “Tape diaper on kid.”

Another reason for our heightened alert status is his ability, now, to open the front door. With a pond next door, a busy road right out front, and two escapes on record, this is certainly cause for concern. Looking back, I admit that wildly nailing 2x4s in every direction over the front door may have been an over-reaction. It sure seemed reasonable at the time, especially when I caught him standing on a backpack, working on the deadbolt (honest to goodness).

As for the other two in between, there’s plenty going on there as well. This was a big week for the third grader, with his first baseball game, a school play, and the annual field events. It’s a red-letter day for a nine-year-old when you get to be a small gray elephant who just wants to get his lines right, and you’ve been picked to serve punch to the parents afterward in your elephant suit. This makes you a very proud and happy kid and, if only briefly, the King of the Jungle.

The other son (he of slingshot infamy) is still busy making his brother alternately giggle and holler. He is looking forward to driver’s ed this summer. This means, of course, that his mother will be assuming her now-familiar position with a teenage driver – kneeling on the floorboard, eyes closed in prayer. As I told the relatives when Jordan started driving, “Please, stay home and pray!”

Really, this is only the tip of the iceberg. With this crowd, there’s plenty of material here to keep 10 mothers praying full-time. I think I’m coming closer to understanding the biblical injunction to “pray without ceasing.” Oh, and by the way – if a very cute toddler comes through, canvassing your neighborhood looking for milk and cookies, just call 1-888-ESC-APEE and I’ll come get him. I just hope he’s wearing a diaper.

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