"Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. Then, it will be a really good day." Louie Schwartzberg
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Giggling in My Gratefulness

posted by Susan Dominikovich on , , , ,

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Every once in awhile, you have one of those days where at the end of it, you lay your head down on the pillow almost overwhelmed by the blessed peace of gratefulness.  One of those days full of smiles and laughter, songs and stories, and most of all, full of beautiful things.  A day to grasp hold of, to lift up before God and say, thank you. 

Thank you.

Normally when I pick up the kiddios from school, we experience what I call "after school angst," especially with the girls.  They work so hard at school, not just in their studies but socially as well and when they get home they let it all out.  On me.  Some days I am big enough and I can handle it with "in your room, NOW and come out again when you can contribute positively to our family."  I think I may have got that one from a parenting expert, years before I would actually need it.  Some days though, I am the one who retreats to my room, locking the door behind me.  Either way, the result is the same.  Blessed peace. Eventually.

But no room for angst yesterday.  We had a plan and a purpose.  At least, I did.  The girls were going to have their first piano lesson after school and I was to be their tutor.  I already had a music book, recommended by a friend who was also my piano teacher, from several years ago when I fleetingly attempted to teach Sam.  This was before I had discovered his music aversion.  Or perhaps I was trying to cure him of his music aversion.  It didn't work. Musically averted he remains.

So, after school yesterday.  I was surprised that my most goal-driven and determined girl was not in the slightest bit interested in learning the piano.  Madeline told me, in no uncertain terms that she was learning the guitar at school and that was enough.  Nothing else.  No way.

Well, she didn't get her determination out of thin air.  She's met her match in her mother.  I was more determined than she was. Yes, I had given up on her brother learning the piano (there's flogging a dead horse and then there's exhuming it and trying to get it to stand--I'm not silly), but the girls were definitely going to learn to play the piano.  And so we went to Shoprite to buy lollies and chocolate.  Bribery.  It did the trick.

I got set up while they changed out of their uniforms and ate afternoon tea.  I was a little nervous.  I don't know a thing about teaching piano, but the series I am using is very good and I had spent most of the day looking at their on-line resources and videos to prepare.  But seeing someone else do it and doing it myself were two entirely different things.  Plus I knew that this first lesson was mostly about posture and position.  Not much playing at all.  How was I going to capture my most stubborn girl's imagination?

Ballet.  The answer was ballet.  

As I taught them how to sit, how to hold themselves, how to move their hands across the keyboard gracefully, keeping their wrists flexible and their hands curved, I tapped into their ballet training.  And then Madeline told me, it's the same in guitar lessons.  Phew.

We traced our hands and practised some drills to learn finger-numbers.  The drills came easily but they enjoyed putting stickers on the fingers as I called out the numbers.  

By this stage, I knew I had them.  Well and truly.  Even Madeline.

Back to the piano and we practised rooster pecking and hen pecking.  I played a duet along with them as they pecked.  I asked them what it sounds like when we play the rooster song going down the keyboard as opposed to the hen song going up.  Abby said, "it gets darker."  I just about hugged her, but contained myself by simply affirming her answer and saying "yes it seems more mysterious doesn't it?"  I am a teacher, not a mother after all.

And I told them their lesson was over and showed them the pages in the book and the things they would practise.  "Can I practise now?"  they all asked in unison.  

Yes.  YES!  And phew.

Then it was a chance to chat with Paul about his day of work and the sadness he had seen there.  A local boy had lost his fight with a dreadful illness that morning.  The loss is another in a series of tragedies at his school.  This one will have a ripple effect in the community as a whole.  It is very sad.  It made me look at my kiddios again while they played noisily in the lounge around us.  I mean, really look at them, these beautiful things in my house, with gladness and gratefulness in my heart.

And then it was homework and dinner prep, with the girls helping out in the kitchen.  No one cut themselves this time (Violet already banned from all knife-holding activities) and no one argued or complained.  And they didn't eat too many of my raw ingredients.

By the time we sat down to the table for our pasta, it was almost bed-time for the children.  But we weren't concerned and didn't rush the mealtime.  The children each talked about their day and Paul told stories.  He talked to them about Communist China and propaganda of all things, which somehow then led to telling a story of travelling and working in London.  About the time he worked in a bank and had no alarm clock, but in his young faith would pray every night, asking God to wake him up in the morning.  And one night, he was a bit cavalier about that prayer and so he slept in.  The children were riveted, especially when he told them how easily people could get fired where he worked.  How would he make enough money to come see Mummy in Canada if he were fired, they asked, quite concerned.  And how he rushed to work and was 15 minutes late.  How on that one day, the boss actually arrived at work after him so his lateness didn't matter.  How God had taught him a very good lesson but had also protected him.   The children asked questions and he answered them.

And I gazed across the table at my husband the entire time, feeling gratefulness from my head to my toes.  I was able to hug him later and tell him how glad I am that he is the man he is, how glad I am that he was able to keep that job, buy a plane ticket to Canada and marry me.  So glad that my children are growing up knowing the love of God in him and seeing it for themselves, every single day.  

But after tea was cleared away and the dishes put in the dishwasher, we discovered that our Abby had not yet done her reading homework.  In that sublime state of happiness and contentment, I said I would do it with her, and she started her book Rumpelstiltskin.  It's a very long story.  She read it extremely well but she was silly.  Everyone was a little silly at this time of night.  I couldn't really blame her so calmly reminded her to just keep reading and always got her to look at the words that she struggled with and sound them out.  She does this beautifully.  But there was this one word.  One word frequently used in this book.  


And every time she had to sound it out.  And every time she would say, "s-o-b-d," followed by "spod." I gently and patiently reminded her that there was no "sp" sound in the word, no "sp" blend at all, and ask her to do it again.

"s-o-b-d...spod!"  Giggle giggle.

Every time.


And there on the table in front of us was a water bottle.  Ingenious, I thought.  I'll employ the well-known cat-training technique.  I did warn her first.

"s-o-b-d...spod!"  Giggle giggle.


She jumped out of her seat with a look of disbelief in her eyes and I held my breath.  Had I judged it right?  Were we about to cross that narrow divide between over-tired hilarity and unrecoverable tears?  She erupted into laughter until her wet cheeks were flushed.  

And it didn't work.

"s-o-b-d...spod!"  Giggle giggle.


Squeals of delight.  This time the floor was wet too.  And I maintained my composure, determined that we would finish this book if it were the last thing I would do.

And on we went until we came to the line, "the queen wept."  I asked her if she knew what "wept" meant.  

She barely even thought about it:  "it's when you're all wet with water, even your clothes and your hair."

And I lost it.  Well and truly.  The book would have to go back to school unfinished because we simply could not take it seriously any longer.  Rumpelstiltskin indeed.  Although I would love to be a fly on the wall in her classroom this morning to see what happens when she says "spod."

So our laughing, tired, happy, slightly wet kiddios went off to bed.  I am certain their dreams were good.  Probably even hilarious.  I imagine they giggled in their sleep.

And I giggled too.  I giggled in my gratefulness.

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