Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Playing with Plastic Ponies - A Toddler Tale

If you've ever reasoned with a toddler, 
the following story will be familiar to you.

My daughter Emily is two-and-a-half years of inquisitive fun, bursting with emotions and energy.

Obviously she gets that from her dad.
Her favourite activity lately is playing pretend with stuffed animals, figurines and her ponies. I don't know what it is about little girls and horses but she loves them. From her giant unicorn to her horse bed sheets and comforter, she can't get enough. 

"Gee, THANKS for the GIANT unicorn, Uncle."
But her absolute cherished possession is a misshapen three inch lump of made-in-China plastic. It sort of resembles a horse and has been creatively named "Pink Pink." 

The STUFFED and actually ponylike version of Pink Pink. Yes. She's yellow. Life is confusing.
On this day that began like any other day, a crisis arose. It was naptime and Pink Pink was nowhere to be found. Like most moms, I am an ELOMO (an expert locator of missing objects, duh), but Pink Pink wasn't down the couch cushions, under the bed, in the pots-and-pans drawer, the laundry basket, the heating vent, the dryer, the bathroom drain, anyone's shoes, the potted plant or Emily's sock. She was really and truly lost. 

My daughter's calm and measured response to the situation looked something like this:

An unrelated crisis. No bubbles.
And after being patient with a whiny, fickle two-year-old for the last seven hours (aka that morning), I was ready to lose it. I went into my room, quietly closed the door and hissed, "I can't believe we are having a stupid (I didn't say 'stupid') MELTDOWN over a CRUMMY (I didn't say 'crummy') piece of PLASTIC (I didn't say 'plastic')." And THEN, miracle of miracles, there was Pink Pink in all her glory, reclining regally on my pillow. Ten minutes later, she was clutched in the vice-grip that is a clammy sleeping toddler's hand and order was restored to the kingdom.  

And there I was, during the first tandem unicorn nap in three weeks (baby and toddler both out cold), RATTLED. Rattled because the God of the universe is present in toddler tantrums and sticky toys and bad words in bedrooms. 

This Jesus I claim to follow went out of his way to speak value and life to women. Everyday women. Flawed, messed-up women (Um, CHECK.). He sought out the queen of failed relationships at the village well and offered her living water for her ongoing discontent. He picked a prostitute to be his great great great (a few times more) grandma. He chose an unwed teenager to be his mom and he sees YOU, mama at home with the mounting laundry and the endless messes and the unseen hard moments. Because it IS hard. This is the hardest job I've ever had. 

And of course, THIS GOD WOULD use a plastic pony named Pink Pink to talk to me. I should have known. In my complaining and impatience with my little tiny human, he stopped me dead in my tracks.  "Let go of Pink Pink," he said, "so I can give you something so much better." 

Nothing in my life has given me such a clear picture of God's love, grace and patience with us as motherhood. 

C.S. Lewis put it like this:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

So I ignored the dishes (hey, totally biblical, ask Martha). I kicked a path through the strewn toys and I sat down before this God. I held out my plastic ponies. And wouldn't you know? All of the problems I'd been trying to fix and the big important "I wants" I was clutching fell down and bounced like small plastic pieces of junk. 

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