Monday, April 6, 2009

The Prayer

I have to write this one down, though I'm not sure how to give justice to the story without the sound of the prayer.
It all started with Kindsay--as usual. Greg and I go to work and she stays at home waiting for her bus, about an hour. Now, don't freak out! Kindsay could survive on a deserted island with nothing but a DS and a tee shirt. She can't be trusted to care for anyone but herself, but alone she is extremely resourceful. However, she is still learning about the dangers of life around her. How long did it take before she looked both ways before crossing the road? Oh...yesterday I think was the first. Seriously, she doesn't make herself aware enough of her surroundings. She almost wears those blinders that horses wear to keep focused. Kindsay is focused on herself. It was not more than three months ago that I left her to go to work, kissing her good-bye and saying a prayer with her. She calls my cell as soon as I turn onto Ashlan towards work, and we talk the entire time she waits for her bus...on and off at least. (She calls my mom and Greg in between calling me.) On this winter morning, I get a call from her about a man at our door. I panic...what man? "A man," she said, "and he needed to do something on our house. He left his number and said he'd be back. I don't know who this man is." I panic some more. What man? I wasn't expecting anyone, and our house says No Soliciting on the door so we aren't welcoming to strangers. I talk to her until her bus comes, making sure she gets on the bus safely and spend the rest of the day wondering who the man was. I get home later and find the card left. A note from PG&E...our energy company had to tweak something on an experimental device I agreed to install. Relief! Still, Kindsay blindly opened to the door to this man and I had to get it into her head that she could not for any reason ever do that again. That night, I sit her down and tell her the Polly Klaas story. It's the little girl who was ripped out of her home, taken by a strange man, thrown into a car, badly treated until the man cut her open and threw her body in a ditch. This wasn't the actual account of what happened, I made it worse to drive home the horror so she wouldn't test my theories on strangers. Her eyes are wide but she nods that she won't open the door again.
I felt like I got through to her. Sometimes something so dramatic and exaggerated has to do the trick for her. A day or so later, I forget about exchange of tales and conduct a family home evening with the kids and Greg. We talk about nice things, good morally strong stories that drive home a concept of values. My kids have very little patience for lessons in the evenings of the beginning part of the week. I know to make my lesson to the point and with little fluff. Each child participates somehow, and Kindsay has offered to say the closing prayer. As we gather around her she begins quickly.
"Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. Help Jesus be safe. Please don't let us get taken by a strange man out of our house."
Kindsay! I say in a whisper.
"And thrown into his car."
Kindsay--in the name of Jesus Christ! again...a whisper of urgency to get her to end her prayer.
"And badly hurt by him."
Kindsay! Stop! Greg is chiming in with me.
"And cut open."
In the name of Jesus Christ! no more, Kindsay! Greg and I are both trying to end the prayer at this point as my boys' eyes are now wide open and mouths dropped.
And in her most rapid speaking--"and thrown into a ditch, name of Jesus Christ amen."
And we all went to bed with the frightening images in our heads while secure in the knowledge that it won't happen to us now because Kindsay prayed about it. Nighty night!


Ah, my favorite subject. Kindsay is a funny girl--at least 3 days later. Her passion is animals: loving and hating. I have a beta fish in my classroom and over spring break had to bring it home to care for it. Kindsay called me on my way home from McLane asking incessantly about the fish-whose is it?, why do we have it?, can we keep it?, why are we taking it?...and on and on during the fifteen-minute drive. I tried to answer, but my answers weren't what she was interested in. She was simply interested in understanding the concept of the fish and all she wanted to hear from me was that we would be keeping it. No, my answer was pretty firm coming out. We've had fish before. "I will not kill it. I will not put it on this lightbulb and kill it like the other fish." all the while I am repeating No No No. "Mom--we are fish poor!" She was scraping for anything to say to convince me that we need a fish. Oh, we're fish poor...well then we should keep this one! "We don't have a hamster and we don't have a fish! And I won't kill them this time!" When I got the fish home it took a matter of a few hours before I went back to find bread crumbs in the fish bowl and the plant that was entertaining the fish thrown in the trash can. OK--this is WHY we don't have a fish, and why we aren't keeping this one! The fish food, I told her over and over, was at grandma's and we would get it later! I say this to her as I'm scooping bread crumbs out of a very narrow opening in the poor excuse of a fish bowl. The fish is playing dead, like Nemo. She put her face right into the glass and yelled at the fish, which she named Chloe at first, then Zack, then Jack. It's dead! She screams this down the hall. I go to the fish, who has one eye open scanning the glass, and I realize its fins are moving slightly, enough to prove its not dead. In a swoop I've got the fish and whisk it off to my mom's for safe keeping. Let's hope it survives spring break, and doesn't wind up half-fried in a plastic egg in a basket filled with sugary, edible grass.