At church, I am responsible for teaching the fourteen and fifteen year old girls, and planning mid-week activities for them. I love it. I love them. And (because I like a little narcissism now and again,) I think they love me. Once every six months a very sweaty and nervous me gets up in front of our whole group of twelve-eighteen year old girls (there are about thirty of them,) and teaches a combined lesson. Yesterday was my lucky day to teach the big group about "Being a Good Communicator." I dazzled them with visual aides, object lessons, role plays, jokes and stories. If I had surveyed the group after the lesson and asked them to rate my communication skills on a scale of 1-10, I'm fairly certain their evaluations would have placed me somewhere between "Omniscient Communicator," and "Jabber Master," but oh, how wrong they would have been. It's a curious thing how you can know something cognitively, but internalizing a principle so you can live by it in the tedium of day to day life is a much trickier proposition. I might have passed the written part of the Comm 101 final, but I failed the practicum. Nate and I couldn't even talk about the depth of our kitchen sink without getting into a snarky argument about the distribution of domestic labor in this household. It was one of those weekends where we ended up icy and distant over every bit of potentially controversial minutiae that crossed our path, and then ended up laughing (reluctantly) at our stubborn stupidity in our more balanced, rational moments.
Poor Henry. He had to abide our senseless bickering whilst trying to cough up the phlegm farm that has amassed in his insides. He hacks like he's got the whooping cough, but I'm pretty sure he just caught the cold that his dad had last week. Whatever it is, I am continually softened at how cheerfully he moseys through his day, even with such affliction in his chest. He asks me several times during the day, "How you're doin', mom?" or "How's your day, mom?" I tell him that my day's good and then ask how he's doin' and he always says, "I'm good...no, great!" He's also incorporated the word "usually" into his ever-widening vocabulary and it's probably the cutest utterance I've ever heard. With his pronunciation, there's a really prominent "sh" sound in the middle and the L's are really pronounced (like a latin "L.")
We are, of course, trying to sponge up all the goodness and warmth of the Season. If Henry were any more tickled about the lights and the trees and the "Halleyou-yah Song" (the Hallelujah chorus from the Messiah -- it's his undisputed favorite,) his excitement chamber might burst open. One of my favorite things about having a toddler is that the joy and delight that they derive from simple pleasures is positively contagious. Even after several rounds of gathering up the strewn ornaments from around the living room (Henry thinks the round silver ones are baseballs,) I still get little twinkles of delight when I look at our tree and the lighted garland on our mantle. And I love it when Henry asks me to sing the "Donkey, Shaggy and Brown Song" before bed. We end most of our days singing about "The Friendly Beasts" who gave their hay and their wool and cooed their songs to welcome the Baby Jesus into the world on that "first Christmas morn'." (If you don't have The Friendly Beasts, you should put your shoes on right now and run down to your nearest book seller and buy it!)
So, even despite our snarking and bickering, hacking and ornament-hurling, the three of us, here, this first week of December? We're reveling in what often feels like more than our fair share of goodness and love.