Wednesday, May 12, 2010
For Sister’s birthday we gave her the choice between a party at the park or date night with mom and dad. It went like this: “Sister, I was thinking about your birthday [eyebrows raise] and you can choose between a party with friends at the park [smile spreading from the corners] or we can get a babysitter for brother and baby and you can go to a fancy restaurant with mom and dad by yourself [eyeballs popping out, convulsions]. She literally fell of the couch, righted herself and starting jumping up and down. “Dinner! Dinner! Dinner!”
“Are you sure, because we are only going to do one thing? So you have to really think about your choices."
“Dinner! Dinner! Dinner!” Hopping in circle. “I’ll go choose my clothes.”
“We still have eight days until your birthday.”
For the next eight days, friends and strangers alike were subjected to details of the birthday plan. “For my birthday I am going with my mom and dad to a fancy restaurant that serves Mac ‘n Cheese. And my brother has to stay home with the babysitter.”
I was sure Mister would cry and stand at the window with his wounded look when it was time for us to go, but instead he hurried us out the door with his standard farewell, “Don’t let the bears kill you. Kick the bears like this . . . one, two, three, kick!” I don’t know where or how he came up with this valediction, but he consistently uses it when Dad leaves for work and at bedtime.
“I love you, Mom. You are special to me. Don’t let the bears kill you.”
“I love you too, Mister. I am proud to be your mama. Good night.”
“Kill the bears!”
The evening of the big event was overcast. We drove east, away from the setting sun. Sister sat in the backseat beaming with diamond-studded sunglasses. When we were seated she wiggled and shook in her chair with excitement. The lemonade she ordered came in a wine glass, and she used both hands to hold it and carefully drink, though still trembling with fanciness and attention and the promise of high-class Mac ‘n Cheese. It was precious time.
For her birthday my husband had suggested we give her a charm bracelet that we could add to each year. I purchased one that came with a silver box, on which we engraved her initials. And we chose a flat silver heart as the first charm and engraved the word ‘treasure’. We explained to Sister, as she turned the glittering band on her wrist, the significance of our choice. We reminded that she is our treasure and that the bible also speaks clearly about treasure. In Proverbs it likens wisdom to treasure and admonishes all to seek after it with focus and might. In Matthew it reminds that where our treasure is, there also will be our passion and attention, the lesson being that with treasure, we should choose wisely lest we give our heart and years to things that quickly tarnish.
After dinner we walked to our favorite coffee shop for dessert. With hands free of other kids, we swung Sister down the sidewalk, her sequined shoes flying out in the lead. “This could have been us,” my husband said, referring to our temporary one-child status.
“I know. That would have been so sad. And lonely,” I responded.
“It doesn’t feel lonely to me!” Sister added, high in the air with her arms pulling against their sockets.
After hot chocolate and biscotti we headed home by way of an indoor playground where she could work some of the sugar and adrenaline out of her small frame. She piled her jewels into my palm, unwrapped her scarf and scrambled up the slide. And I watched her. She is a contradiction. So grown-up. So wise for her age. But in so many ways a baby. In need of some individualized attention. And a little something special just for her.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:21