Monday, July 27, 2009

Roman Numerals

My six-year-old daughter was given homework on Roman Numerals two weeks ago. Easy enough, I thought. Instinctively, I reviewed the basics with her. You know, I is one, V is five, X is ten. But then after that, I wasn't quite sure whether to teach her the concept behind the rest of the numbers or just tell her to memorize them. On one hand, I wanted her to understand and appreciate the subject. On the other hand, I wasn't sure how to simplify it. I tried to stall as I thought about which approach to take while slowly writing the numerals and their corresponding Arabic numbers on her red and blue-lined paper.

"Mom,"she interrupted my thoughts, "I saw these numbers in the big church!" "You did?" I asked, trying to think whether what she had seen were the Stations of the Cross. I ignored it and dug out my old Mickey Mouse watch that had roman numerals. Brilliant, except that the number four was written as IIII instead of IV. So I made an attempt at explaining, but it got a bit complicated which stressed both of us. I was running out of patience because I had to leave for a friend's memorial service in an hour. "Let's take a break and wait for dad." I said. My husband, the math person in the family, came home just as I was about to leave. I suggested he use toothpicks. That might inspire her a bit, I thought.

That Sunday, we went to the big church. As soon as we got to our pew, she looked up, pointed at the huge doors surrounding us, twelve in all, and in a hushed tone exclaimed "There!". No Stations of the Cross there, but roman numerals, big and bold on top of each door!

You know that part in the movies when someone goes inside a church and the light streams through stained glass windows like that person was just about to have an epiphany? Well, that moment was my daughter's epiphany in roman numerals. God forgive me, I can't remember what the Gospel was. We were so busy listening to her as she correctly identified each number with sheer excitement in her eyes. "Look dad, that's nine!", she whispered. Trust God to teach what you can't and lean not on your own understanding.

Supermarket Day

I dread going to the supermarket. If you do something week in and week out with the same old list of things to buy, plus you're not really a food person, supermarket shopping can be a drag. Some people are supermarket people. I'm more a bookstore person. Well, today was supermarket day. I thought about procrastinating, which I often do especially if there's still corned beef in the pantry, but then we were out of eggs, cooking oil and nappies so that was that.

The kids were home so I dragged them with me. In the car, I told myself I would just get the essentials and go back another day to finish the list. It was raining and I had an hour before dinnertime. With two kids in tow, I wasn't sure we would make it.

Well, never underestimate your children. As soon as we got inside the store, my six-year old daughter rushed to get a cart for us. And before I could even put my son on the seat, she headed for the vegetable section to check out some cabbages. Knowing her brother was watching, she came back to instruct him not to choose the wilted ones. Then she walked around picking fruits and other veggies to be weighed and priced. "What else is on the list, mom?"she asked without missing a beat. I told her we needed to get chicken, and she dashed to the poultry section, coming back to check what chicken part I wanted! All these happened within a span of fifteen minutes as I stood there beside the cart, making sure her brother didn't jump out.

After we got everything we needed, she helped me unload the cart at the check out counter and we were out of the store in record time. I'm sure if she had money, she would have paid for everything herself. There was absolutely no request for a sweet reward and I restrained myself from offering any.

In the car, I thanked her for being so helpful and she glowed with pride. On the way home, I thought about what age would be appropriate to permanently delegate this daunting chore to Miss Supermarket, who just happens to be the other bookstore person in the family.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Runaway Bunny

The other day, my two-year-old son brought me The Runaway Bunny to read before naptime. It was kind of beat up and worn at the edges after being read over and over when his older sister was his age. I didn't think he would want to read it considering his preference for books about trains and trucks, but I thought he must be entering a new phase so I obliged. After all, it was once a favorite.

When we started, I had flashes of how I used to read it to my older child - I would alternately change my voice from little bunny to mommy bunny much to her delight. But that wasn't the only reason that book became special. Back then, each time I read how the little bunny kept thinking of ways to run away from his mother, I would think of the song Yahweh You are Near, the one that goes... "where can I run from Your love, if I climb to the heavens You are there..." and I would always end up with a lump in my throat by the time we finished reading. I was a struggling, sleep-deprived new mom and the challenges that went with it kept testing my faith. Reading that book everyday was a reminder of God's steadfastness.

But then my daughter and I moved on to other books about frogs and toads and ballerina mice and The Runaway Bunny sat on the shelf, forgotten. When my second child came along, he was into other things and the challenges were different. And as I got more immersed into motherhood, with two highly-spirited kids, my spiritual life took the backseat.

Well, that particular day, as I read to my son who wasn't too thrilled about the changes in my voice, I heard a familiar tune in my head. I sighed to myself. There is no escaping the God who doesn't want to let go. And if you do try, He uses your children to remind you not to. Shucks!

Over a Mug of Cococrunch

I used to work in front of the computer with a mug of Cococrunch drenched in milk. I spent entire mornings productively typing and mousing away, thoughts flowing, uninterrupted. I could hear myself think. Loud and clear. There were days I had oatmeal in the same mug. But mostly, it was Cococrunch.

Then I had children, just two. My PC crashed at some point in time, I think just after I had used it to design my younger child's baptismal invitations. I had stopped e-mailing years before that, then quit saving journal entries in floppy disks and went back to longhand journaling in bed while my older child took naps beside me. I guess my PC knew its place in my life as a new mom.

Today, as I write this on a new computer called MAC, I feel rusty. My children are home on a Friday because there's a storm and I'm just waiting to be interrupted any minute now. Well not yet. I try to hear myself think and savor whatever time God will allow me to have. I know that pretty soon, I will have my entire mornings back. No rush. There's Cococrunch in the pantry. I just have to find that mug.