One week out of the summer, the grandtwins come to visit. Just me and them. I put all work aside and devote all time to them. This year they are seven, out of first grade, going into second—boy and girl. Therein lies kind of a problem, because it’s hard to be with each one as an individual, hard to play LEGOs and Barbies at the same time. But as I observed last week, they are two children, but they are not two children. They are one child. They are always hanging on to each other, moving like the Blob, playing together, telling each other what to do, looking out for each other.
Especially Jillian. She rides Hardy like a hard-working mule in the field. I picked them up at the Natchez Trace headquarters in Tupelo, and as she and I headed for the ladies’ restroom, she looked at Hardy and in front of all the visitors indoors, she said loudly, “Go to the bathroom, Hardy.” I remembered last summer when she said, “Hardy, I am not putting that commode seat down after you one more time. You’ve got to learn to do it!” At one point during this week, she strode through the living room with her long legs and a boy’s shirt in her hand. “What are you doing” I asked. “I’m laying out Hardy’s clothes for tomorrow.” She even packed his suitcase for him. At another point during the week, I heard him ask her where his new socks were, and I told him, “Hardy, if you and all the other men cannot take care of yourselves, you’ve just got to take what comes to you.” And then he could absolutely not find his new flip flops one day. “They’re in your bedroom, on the floor. Look under the starlight stuffed animal.” He answered, “I didn’t see them anywhere.” And I just had to say it: “That’s because you are a boy, and men and boys never look under anything for their stuff. If it’s not on top, y’all can’t find it. And that goes for ALL men.”
Hardy, in all his brother sweetness, when he is not poking, slapping, and putting his feet on Jillie and making her squeal, can be protective. We were stopped at a Shell station to use the restroom, and while Jillie was inside the bathroom, I walked an aisle or two away to remotely lock my car because I had forgotten to, and Hardy started to follow, but then said, “No, I’ve got to stay with Jillie,” and went back to stand beside her door.
I always plan a bustle of activity when they come, and this year was no exception. We went to Glow Galaxy, the pool, Sky Zone, Adventure Science Center where we saw the featured exhibit Wolf to Wolf and watched Stars in the planetarium, Homestead Manor and Farmer’s Market, where we bought bread and peach jam for toast, picked blackberries, made cookies, had a tea party, watched Lady and the Tramp, watched 19 episodes of the Hardy Boys’ Applegate treasure show on DVD, read from Hardy Boys book #1 on which the movie was based, read from Ivy and Bean, saw Finding Dory at Carmike Cinema, watched E.T., played ball and bubbles with the puppy, did street chalk art, drew designs on flat, smooth pebbles, and played LEGOs and Barbies.
One thing I didn’t think through when naming the puppy—Heidi—was the difficulty of calling out names when the kids are here, and so Hardy was Heidi and Heidi was Hardy. And sometimes, though, Heidi was Chaeli, her predecessor. And sometimes I went through all four names before I got the right one!
Hey! He’s double-jointed like me!
For the first time, I don’t think I called Jillie JillieBean the whole week.
And so, JillieBean, Hardy, and Heidi—what a week! Come back, and we’ll go canoeing!
On this patriotic day, this 4th of July…I am for some reason bothered by the Facebook posts that say PRAY FOR AMERICA. I don’t understand the concept. It seems very shallow, when you really think about it. Of course, yes, I would agree, on a very basic, immature, and baby-Christian level, pray for America. It’s a start, even if we don’t have the awareness of what we’re saying and praying for. America needs our prayers. But…
We ARE America. So who and what are we praying for when we pray for America?
Are we expecting to say a two-minute prayer for our country and our leaders and then sit back and grill our steaks and eat our homemade ice cream and wait on God to “come down here” and fix everything the particular way we want it? Are we expecting God to do the work while we whack open a watermelon? Are we expecting God to intervene in our national processes?
God doesn’t always intervene. (I think we can all agree on that.)
Maybe we should grow up a bit, mature, apply some of the wisdom we were equipped with. Perhaps we should pray for ourselves and say GOD BLESS ME AND HELP ME BECOME A GOOD AMERICAN. Because…
We are the mouth, the hands, and the feet of God/Christ in the world. He is counting on us to do the work, to look beyond ourselves, to open our minds and see outside our tiny boxes, to look at the big picture and how we fit into it, to fix ourselves, to understand love and brotherhood, and then to lift up America…to not only pray, but to be the prayer and the answer to the prayer.
All I know is that it can’t be right in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of God to post PRAY FOR AMERICA in one instance and then in the next to spew hatred for Obama or to share an old tired meme about Hillary or to put down Trump.
We’ve got to find a way to help ourselves grow up and act right. If prayer will do this, then I say let’s change the charge to PRAY FOR AMERICANS…
That we might mature on the vine and be the healing and uniting force our democracy so desperately needs. That we might lift up instead of tearing down. That we might know just exactly who we are and who we belong to and what we’re supposed to be about in this world.