Volume 11, Issue 1: Femina
When our children were very small (and our apartment not much bigger), all three of them slept in one bedroom: two in the bunk beds and one in the crib. Bedtime was quite a party. Doug would bring in his guitar on hot summer evenings (as well as cold winter nights) and we would sing all manner of songs. The kids would request their favorites: "Summertime and the livin' is easy..." or "Oh, little Rachel, oh..." as well as the first hymn they ever learned, "Holy, Holy, Holy." After songs and prayers and kisses and drinks, the lights went out, but sometimes the summer sunshine hung in the window, making it hard for little ones to believe all the fun was really over.
Occasionally after the bedtime ritual was over, Doug and I would stand by the front door and holler, "Jammy ride!" These magic words brought three bright-eyed children tumbling out of their beds like it was Christmas morning! Then into the back seat of the car they would scramble, amidst bathrobes and Afghans (if it was chilly), and off we would go to Giant T, the drug store with the ice cream counter. Rachel's favorite part was being carried into the store because she had on her jammies with the feet in them. She always ordered the turquoise, bubble-gum flavored ice cream. Nathan was stuck on vanilla for years, and Bekah usually leaned toward something marshmallowy. Then back into the car to eat the cones amidst the excitement of being "out on the town" past bedtime. Sometimes the next stop was Grandma and Grandpa's house for a surprise visit. Jammy rides, no doubt, will live on in my children's households when they have little people of their own packed into bunk beds on summer evenings.
Children are so easy to delight and delight in. The small joys have huge impacts. Sometimes it was as simple as floating a plastic bowl of cheerios in the tub. This was sometimes my remedy for a case of the boredom or blues. And, of course, the more bubbles in the water the better. When our washer and dryer were in the bathroom, I would throw the towels in the dryer for a few minutes before I got the kids out of the tub. A big, warm towel to greet them translated into love, joy, and comfort.
In wintertime I saved bath time for about 4 PM, because it was too dark and cold to play outside after that. Then when Doug got home from work, three little clean and jammied children greeted him and were ready to play and be read to after dinner. This left me free to do dishes and sit down after dinner. I have one picture of Doug stretched out on the couch with three little kids sitting in a line on top of him while he is reading a story. The older two look very much involved in the plot, while number three looks to be acting the part with all her might.
When the children were old enough, reading could extend two or even three hours, especially during a Narnia or Lord of the Rings reading. During the battle scenes, Nathan's cheeks would be bright red and hot. If Doug tried to put the book down at the end of the chapter, everyone would cry out, "Don't stop yet, Dad! Please keep reading just a little more." When we traveled one summer, Doug had to allow only one Tolkien tape per so many hundred miles.
Bekah and I played "Miss Tiggy-Winkle" many an afternoon. I put on an apron, and Bekah would go outside and ring the doorbell. Then I would answer the door with, "Well hello, Lucy! Do come in and have some tea." Then we would visit over the ironing and have a tea party.
For Nathan, once he had his own room, bedtime became our special visiting time where we would make up stories together, and I would give never-ending back rubs. Rachel would help me each week when I made bread. She would make her own baby loaf with a small lump of dough and put it in her own little pan, and eat it her own little self with lots of butter and honey when it came out of the oven.
Singing countless hours in the car, passing on all our childhood songs and learning hymns together, made short trips enjoyable family times. Dates with Dad on Saturdays usually involved the library, the donut shop, or climbing "The Rock" on Moscow Mountain. Snow meant sledding excursions and snowball wars; and one last-minute trip to the drug store by Dad on Christmas Eve resulted in stockings filled with bungee cords! Which, by the way, was a better gift than it sounds
Now when we hear our grown children reminisce about these things from their own perspective, we realize how all the small joys added up to a childhood filled with happiness and hilarity that has carried over into their adult years.
Delighting together looks different now. It's enjoying a glass of sparkling wine together at our weekly sabbath feast, or sitting together on our unfinished deck and marveling over the newest family member still in his swaddling clothes. Or, it's watching a demonstration of a newly learned swing dance step that requires moving out to the front yard.
Each family created by God will have a unique culture all its own, packed with its own customs, inside jokes, and memories. Thankfully, no one pattern exists that each family must follow, but God has allowed us to live and love and laugh together in a unique way under His sovereign blessing.