Another way I am really blessed is with my children. This post was almost my last one, but I decided the last one would follow the one before it better and that this one could wait. This one now seems even more appropriate in light of what my friend, Matt said about contentment. I was just telling his wife that I so often tell my children, "I am not a clown." I have a home and family to take care of, but usually that looks more like cooking and cleaning and running errands than playing. But with a lot less to do lately, I actually have time to play. I must confess that it is not coming as easily as one might guess, maybe because I am out of practice or just don't easily get on a child's level. My "playing" usually looks more like bringing my children up to my level- making a recipe where they do a lot of the "fun" parts, having them help arrange squares for a quilt and giving them a chance to put the squares where they want, or dressing dolls or ponies in a coordinated way (naturally, kids always mismatch outfits! and I am pretty rotten when it comes to pretending with the dolls.). Or we go on outings. Anyway, I guess what I am saying is that I am not really a kid at heart. George always says I will be great with our kids as teenagers because I am more of a teenager at heart.
But I am really enjoying them these days. Sure, I get tired or cranky or need a break just like anyone. But Elspeth is at the cutest age right now. And she is so naughty. My other two children can be so compliant sometimes that I fear I am too hard on them. My friend Jessie says that Elspeth is proof that I am not! Because she is definitely not afraid of me! Of course, Amabel and August are not compliant anything like all of the time, and I guess I should just appreciate the blessing of who they are instead of fearing that it is some sort of sign of dysfunction. After all, I think who Elspeth is is nothing short of adorable. So this is my Elspeth post. The Elspeth Peace Prize is truly a treasure that needs to be shared with all of you.
She started stringing several words together to make sentences about a month ago. At first it was "August...crying" or "Daddy...'side" (meaning "Daddy's outside") and quickly became "Daddy, can you please help me?" And all of the sudden, we have recognized all the information she has absorbed over the last 22 months. She was sitting in her chair the other day and had a little bit of gas, something that I do not let my children even really giggle about because y'all know I hate bathroom humor. But Elspeth sort of snickered and said "I tooted." And I was the one who ended up leading the charge in hysterical laughter, and ended up crying I was laughing so hard. Because, when did she learn to make that connection?! She is verbal now, which made an already hilarious baby even more comical.
George put her to bed the other night and she cried and cried. After a while he went in and said "Why are you crying, little baby?" And Elspeth said "I need a tissue." George got her one, she wiped her eyes and nose, and laid herself down and went to sleep! She has also started reciting, or rather calling out, the alphabet, in no particular order, "A, B, C, H, J, K, P, D, E, G, S, T, Z, H." It is really hilarious. She also counts, usually to three and then by odd numbers, so it goes something like "1,2,3,5,7,9,12, teen, teen, teen." And her favorite song is "Happy Birthday" after the half dozen or so birthday parties we have been to this summer. It took us a while to realize that it was "Happy Birthday" that she was singing. She walked around for days singing "happy day, happy day," to her own little sweet tune. She would sing it when you changed her diaper or when you put her in her car seat, so we had no idea what she was thinking about until we were talking about it at George's sister's birthday celebration and realized, "hey, maybe that's what she's singing, the birthday song!" When we went to sing the song that day, she lit up and began singing her own sweet version. I almost think we should all learn Elspeth's version and sing it from now on.
But then we would have to learn Elspeth's versions of other songs. At our church in St. Louis, we sing a sweet little benediction song in the children's Sunday school classes or at Vacation Bible School that goes:
Go now in peace, Go now in peace
May the love of God surround you
Everywhere, everywhere you may go.
I thought this song was absolutely precious from the first time I heard it. And I have a funny little habit of changing the words of songs for my newborns. For Amabel, I changed the words to this cute little children's song that used to play at Gymboree about a habitat, "Yellow Submarine," and "Rainy Day Women." Yeah, sort of weird choices, but they are about Amabel now. August's song was one of the ones from Evita, and I think I probably just made up a couple for him too. Sad, I don't remember his as much! But anyway, Elspeth's has been, among others, "Go now in Peace," only, of course, it's Elspeth Peace, and I don't have to change any of the other words. She sings this song with me now, and it is the sweetest thing ever. Only, I realized yesterday that she has changed the "everywhere"s to "happy day." So funny!
She also loves to pray. Only, she doesn't say anything. She imitates her brother and sister so it sounds a little like "help...umm...help... babbling...ummm...jesus..amen." She has now taken to praying over whoever else is praying. This is particularly hard for the one praying because it is just so funny. We used to ask who wants to bless the food, but now it is generally best if George does because the rest of us are all stifling our laughter. We don't want to teach her that prayer is a funny thing, and we want to encourage her to pray, but it is pretty funny having her pray alongside you, copying your inflection and timing, and sometimes trying to finish your words.
Well, I know some people are probably really bored by posts like this. But it is now documented, which is a good thing because the closest thing any of my children have to a baby book is an empty scrap book and a ziploc bag full of hospital wristbands (hey, ziploc is another of those brand names becoming the common name!), baby cards, shower gift lists, and pictures. I am really bad at writing about them, and I know I will be sorry. So, this is Elspeth, in a blog post, at 22 months. I can't imagine life without her. I named her peace because I wished that for her after the family drama we had during my pregnancy. I actually looked for names that meant "happy" or "joyful" first. I almost named her some sort of double name with "Merry" as the first name (as opposed to Mary), but I just couldn't part with the name Elspeth. In the end, I love that peace is something you can have even when you are not happy, but I still prayed that she would be a cheerful and happy hearted child (I was so melancholy or even depressed during my pregnancy with her- due to homelessness if y'all don't remember). God has answered my prayers so faithfully. She is not only a very joyful and merry child, but she brings joy and mirth to everyone around her. I guess I haven't really talked about how naughty she is at all, and even that has a really funny aspect to it. Oh well, another post for another day. (Trust me, I will have plenty of stories in even the next day to write a post about my naughty baby!)