There’s plenty happening on this street

Categorized as 06/28/10 Goshen News column

If you have a toddler and a TV, then you are intimately acquainted with Big Bird, Elmo, and the rest of the gang on Sesame Street. Every day, they focus on one letter, one number, and one new word, the “word on the street,” which is brought by Murray, an orange puppet.

In honor of our resident Elmo fan and his fourth birthday, the letter of the day is M, the number is 7, and the word on the street is “hopping.”

“Hopping,” as Murray may explain it, is defined as such a flurry of activity, productive and otherwise, that a busy mother (there’s an M) needs a phalanx of secretaries and handlers to manage it all. Not to mention the occasional mafia thug. Serious M.

For seven days (there’s the number), Big Middle was gone with a team from church, ministering on the streets of Chicago (two Ms). With seven days’ worth of clothes to line up, not to mention seven days’ worth of snacks, some serious hopping was happening.

That, of course, was the week that the carburetor on the bright orange machine (catch that?) went kaput. This was a pretty big deal when you glanced over the three acres out back that were turning to hay and the lonely little push mower parked there in the barn.

It was when their father mentioned “push mower” and “all three acres” in the same sentence that the moaning began in earnest. Which is about the time the offsprings’ prayer life experienced a sudden surge.

While there is always a certain amount of mower-related moaning from the 16 and under crowd (are you counting?), I must confess to some maternal mumbling of my own. Take, for instance, the day the to-do list was languishing at the hands of the middles. The deadline was fast approaching, and the floors, I noted, hadn’t been touched.

When I pointed it out, they assumed expressions of such cherubic innocence that O. J. Simpson would have wept in envy. Clearly, something was up. One glance at the list, and I knew immediately what it was. I turned to Facebook to share my angst with my friends.

“Dear boys,” read the status. “Just because you tear ‘sweep downstairs’ out of your to-do list doesn’t mean you don’t have to do it. You do. Sigh, Mom.”

LR, SY, BO, and three others liked this. “Gotta love ‘em while they give you ulcers and gray hair!” said one of my friends, herself a mother of boys.

“Been there, done that. Hang in there, Mama,” encouraged another one who has two of her own.

“LOL (laugh out loud)!” said several mothers, one of whom added, “When it’s someone else’s boys, you can admire that (ingenuity), but when it’s your own, it’s a different story.” Lastly, one more veteran MOB (Mother of Boys) added in sympathy, “Sigh…”

It was a day or two later, with the middles’ malfeasance still fresh in my memory, that I had an impromptu pep talk with the crowd before dispatching them to perform their daily duties. Every once in awhile, things get to such a point that a serious heart-to-heart is called for, and I don my clerical collar and let ‘er rip. This was one of those days.

As often happens (ahem), the “funny” in it struck me afterwards, and I hopped onto my Facebook wall to share it. “Rhonda Schrock,” went the update, “feels like a female Billy Graham after delivering an impressive homily to sons about character issues such as laziness, responsibility, obedience, and striving for excellence in one’s endeavors. She finished strong, bringing it in for a landing with a piercing exegesis of the Philippians exhortation to ‘do everything without complaining or arguing.’ Altar call, anyone?”

Fourteen people liked this. One friend said, laughing, that at her house, she’s known as “Joyce Meyer” when she has a preaching outbreak. The time that she made them look up verses on love and kindness and read them to each other nearly put them under.

My sister asked that I record the speech for her. Another friend wondered if she could send her kids the next time. I replied that the names in the text would have to be changed and that when the Spirit descends, I go with it. If she could fax me her kids at a moment’s notice, I said, I would add them to my small (and unwilling) congregation.

Someone suggested a song (“I Surrender All”) to be sung at the next meeting, and an aunt shared her version of the altar call. By the time it was all said and done, the mirth had spread from North Dakota to Virginia.

It goes without saying how cathartic it is for a tired mother of mischievous miscreants to find such empathy among others in the Sisterhood of Those Who Raise Sinners. With friends like these and a mocha in my hand, I just may live to tell about this after all.

This column is brought to you today by the letter M and the number 7. Surely it’s mere coincidence that “mocha” and “7” appear in the same piece. Surely.

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