Our oldest daughter turned 6 this past week, and the thought that continues to light up in my head is a quote from Dr. Leman’s book “It’s Your Kid, Not A Gerbil“. Something to the effect of by the time our kids turn 6 years old, we’re 1/3 done with having our time with them at home. It’s definitely a thought that has me grabbing at moments with her, and breathing through them slowly and with purpose.
This morning was just such an occasion. Bob Evans generally sends my kids a birthday card (because we’re friends with Bob), good for a free kids meal. That’s usually a reminder to take my daughter out for a daddy/daughter date for her birthday. We talk about the previous year, and I tell her the Bible verse I pray for her on a regular basis, and for the year to come. This year the card never came, and awesome father that I am, I didn’t make plans without getting a “free meal” card in the mail. Thankfully, my wife reminded me we can eat there even without the free meal card. Silly me. 🙂
As we walked in, the waitress said she’d be right with us. But Addie, being the incredibly mature 6 year old she is…asked if we could sit at the bar where we could watch the kitchen/etc. I said sure, so we hopped over and sat down, talking with Cathy the coffee lady. She proudly announced that: 1. We were celebrating her birthday. 2. She had a loose tooth, and the tooth-fairy was totally going to pay up. She ordered the expected chocolate chip pancakes made into a creepy looking smile (the bacon was placed like a giant nose, instead of the eye-brows), washed down with a chocolate milk. I followed suit with my predictably cheap “a la carte” biscuits and sausage gravy…though I did splurge on an expensive mug of coffee. (Sidenote: it only comes with two biscuits….why offer me honey and jam also? Like I’m gonna eat the gravy as soup?)
The neat moment came when an older gentleman sat next to my daughter, and began his obviously normal routines. The waitresses knew him, and affectionately referred to him as “Bear”. He joined us in conversation at one point, asking my daughter if she had any pets. I was probably too proud, when she responded “Yes, we have chickens!!”, which he was a bit surprised by. Then he told her she had a doggy too, at which point she and I were both a bit confused. We definitely do not have a doggy. But using a piece of paper, he laid her hand down and gently, as an obviously trained grandfather would, traced an outline of her thumb. He then added the face, ears and collar. There, see? She had a dog right in her hand. He then wrote the word “D-O-G” on paper, and asked her to read it. She passed the test. Then he told her to use the same letters, and wrote “G-O-D”, and asked her to read that. She smiled and said confidently, “God.” He smiled at her, looked at me, and back to her said, “And you know what? God made little doggies, and he made you too!” She smiled in agreement, and he told her she could take the drawing home to color and show her sisters. We each finished our meals as Bear told us a little about his many grandchildren.
Thank you Bear. May more and more people enjoy the experience of your thumb-drawings and spelling lesson. It wasn’t theologically heavy, and didn’t need to be. It wasn’t selling her heaven, or offering safety from hell. It was simply a message revealing God on her level. May each of us live in a way that recognizes how much we can reinforce the messages of God’s Love for others on a regular basis. Especially at unexpected moments like this.