In fact, mothering is not for the faint of heart.
It’s not so much the diapers, the vomit, or the urine. In all of these situations you can find quick, clean air behind you. Just turn your head and breathe over your shoulder. It’s there every time.
No, the real challenge of motherhood begins when your child learns the following words:
how and why
A preschooler’s questions seem to fall into three basic categories: Color (“Why is grass green?”), Reproduction (“How did a baby get into your tummy?”) and Theology (“Why can’t we see God?”).
Granted, the first two categories have their problems. I still don’t really know why the sky is blue. But I figure that since color questions are lifetime mysteries and that I can Scarlett O’Hara the reproduction questions (“I’ll think about that tomorrow”), these are not my main worries at this point.
But, the theology questions? Yeah….these cause me quite a bit of consternation.
When the “dancing-to-the-devil” question popped up, I remembered that in extra fine print at the bottom of my daughter’s birth certificate was a line that read “by passing the aforesaid child through the birth canal, the aforesaid mother agrees to answer all religious questions by the aforesaid child, no matter how aforesaid they may be”.
Growing up, I was taught that dancing was an action prompted by Satan. After all, that was the reason that God took away the serpent’s legs, you know.
Now, I did notice that for some reason, my mother did make an exception to the “creative movement” performed on the Lawrence Welk Show. It was on every Saturday night at our house – except for commercial time when my dad switched over to watch HeeHaw. (“Ah-one, and ah-two…that number to call is BR549”).
Dance…oh, yeah. In time, I realized that dancing in and of itself wasn’t the true source of evil. But, this stance still didn’t make it any easier to explain to a certain four-year-old and her two-year-old sister.
Me: “Dancing isn’t actually bad.”
My four-year-old: “But Cindy’s mom said that some kinds are like dancing to the devil.”
My parroting two-year-old: “Dancin’ to the debil.”
Me: “Okay, some kinds can be bad, but dancing can also be used to express your joy to the Lord. Remember the story about King David dancing to the Lord?”
My four-year-old: “What kinds are bad?”
My parroting two-year-old: “Arh bad.”
Me: “King David danced to the Lord with all the energy he had.”
My persistent four-year-old: “Explain what kinds are bad, Mommy.”
My two-year-old that was getting on my nerves: “Kines arh bad, Mommy.”
Me: “Don’t you think it would be fun to dance with all of your energy?”
My dogged four-year-old who was about to need a nap: “Could you show us the difference, Mommy?”
My two-year-old who probably needed time out for something: “Diffrnts, Mommy.”
You get the drift. It seemed that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come were going to get me out of this one.
Right about now, I begin to have flashbacks into the contingency training I had taken in case of a hostage situation. I was definitely feeling the same confusion and spike in blood pressure as described when held at gunpoint. Evidently, talking with terrorists and toddlers have some basic parallels.
In hostage situations, we learned that we should know our STS (short, tenable statement) ahead of time and repeat it over and over. My take-away was that if I didn’t escape initial imprisonment, repeating my STS in a deep, Texas twang would be enough to drive my captor to madness or distraction – offering me plenty of time to climb out any available windows.
Preschoolers in union: “Mommy???”
I looked over the heads of both my inquisitive toddlers to the nearest window.
Evidently, the twang thing wasn’t working because these girls heard it everyday.
It was at this point that I did what every self-respecting mother does. I’d been trained up in the way which my mother said I should go and now that I was a mother, I did not depart from it. I did what mothers have been doing down through the ages. I did what you have done, if indeed you are a mother….
I made up an answer.
“Dancing to the devil is when you wiggle your bottom.”
I must say that this answer has come back to bite me in that very devilish location of my body. Unfortunately, these same trusting toddlers became testy teenagers.
“Look, Mom (jiggle, jiggle, giggle, giggle)! I’m dancing to the devil.”
I did learn one thing through the whole situation. When your grandchildren one day ask you questions in any of the three basic categories, repeat just one simple, tenable statement: “Go ask your mom.”