Saturday, August 14, 2010

About the Vampire Teeth...

...And other Allyson stories:

On the way home from church Sunday, Allyson interrupted Ethan in the middle of a story to ask, "Can I have some van-pire teeth?"

"Vampire teeth?" Bill echoed.

"Just a minute," I said. "Ethan was talking."

The moment there was a break in the conversation, Allyson continued, "About the van-pire teeth... can I have some?"

"Why do you need vampire teeth?" Bill asked.

"I want to be a vampire for Halloween. Can we get my costume now?"

"It's a little soon to get your costume," Bill replied.

"And I'm not too sure about you being a vampire," I added, finishing with the pat answer that Allyson has already learned to dread. "We'll see."
Allyson on Her Second Halloween

But I'm Not Gonna Eat Any
Last week while I was fixing lunch, Allyson gathered a handful of green grapes, a bag of marshmallows, and half a banana from the refrigerator and carried them to the table. "Can I have a little bowl?" she asked.

"What are you doing with all that?" I handed her a tiny red bowl, her favorite after the pink one, which was dirty.

"I'm making dessert for you."

I cringed as I watched her smashing the grapes with her sort of clean hands. "I have to cut up the bananas now," she said. She clutched a table knife awkwardly in her fist and laboriously chipped away bits of banana, which she transferred into the bowl with the oozing grapes. Five minutes later, she carefully sprinkled mini marshmallows over the fruit in a symmetric pattern.

My stomach made a funny lurch as I anticipated the obligatory bite. "I bet you're going to love those marshmallows," I remarked.

"Oh, I'm not gonna eat any," she said. "This is special just for you. Here, try it!" Beaming, she held out the little bowl.

I surveyed the banana bits, slightly brown now in the grape juice. "Looks yummy," I lied, and then I reluctantly took a tiny spoonful and chewed gingerly. You know what? It wasn't half bad! The texture was sort of weird, but the blend of the fruits and marshmallows was rather tasty. I ate most of her little fruit cocktail.

"Very nice!" I said. "Thank you for making me dessert, sweetie."

She flushed with pleasure. "I knew you'd like it!"

Just a Little Bit
The other night I was giving Allyson a bath, and it wasn't going so well. That task usually falls to Bill, but lately he's been busy in the yard at night, working on replacing the fence. I'm not so patient as Bill, and we both got agitated when I tried to rinse her long hair and she wouldn't cooperate. "Allyson," I said gently, "you need to obey with a willing heart."

She looked in my eyes and said calmly, "I like Daddy more than you."

"I know you like it better when Daddy gives you a bath," I said, "but he's busy tonight. I'm doing my best."

"No, I mean I love Daddy more than you."

Although on one level I knew she was just aggravated with me and was trying to make a point, her deliberate coolness cut deeply. I think the main reason was that she was only saying out loud what I've always suspected: Bill is her favorite. She's been a daddy's girl from birth, and usually that doesn't bother me. But on that day, when I'd spent every minute with her and tried very hard to be patient and loving, and even played three games of High Ho Cherry-O with her, her casual remark brought tears to my eyes.

"That hurt my feelings," I said.

"Oh, I didn't want to hurt your feelings. I just meant that I like Daddy a little bit better. That's all."

I smiled ruefully; she didn't realize that she was only twisting the knife further. She prattled on cheerfully throughout her bath while I held back tears.

It wasn't until an hour later, when I talked it over with God in my closet, that I let the tears fall. "I know I should be thankful for the bond that Bill and Allyson share, and I know it's not a contest, but why does it hurt so much? I'd heard that there are often conflicts between girls and their mothers, but she's only four, God! I'm not ready for this." I knelt there in our secret place, resting my head on my crossed arms, until my breathing became slow and steady. "Help me rest in your love," I whispered.

Then I prayed my favorite verses over Allyson, including Ephesians 3:17-18; I asked God to let her be rooted and established in love, so that she can grasp how long and wide and high and deep is the love of Christ. I prayed that I too will be rooted in that love so I can share it with her, that my love will be firm enough to stand through all of the conflicts we will face together.

The next day, her morning snuggles were that much sweeter.


Anonymous said...

As much as I am head over heels in love with my Liam and Grace, I know that Grace already has that special bond with daddy and Liam has it with me. Girls need their daddies in different ways, and aren't we so blessed that our girls have their daddies and that special bond :) As with us, our childrens have many seasons and the dynamics of their relationships with us as parents will change from season to season. As moms, we know they will always have that special bond with daddy, but someday, when our girls are women, with families of their own, they will be our best friends and we will be theirs too. What a gift.
For now, you can say, well I love you to the moon and back <><

Sarah said...

Thank you, Gentle! That's just what I need to hear.


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