Monday, September 30, 2013

And She's Off!

At the wide-eyed age of 24 (my overalls-wearing and Boyds Bear-collecting days), I clearly remember holding my baby girl and thinking, "Man. When I'm 40, this girl will be driving." Followed by a quick, "That day'll never come."

But days you never think will come do come, and instead of proudly talking about your baby's first poops, first pony rides, and first time not crying while going down the second hill on Pirates, you find yourself gushing over a different kind of "first":

"There she goes! First time driving to school!"

"Here she is! First time driving home from school!"

"And she's off! First time driving to work!"

And instead of worrying about chubby baby thighs getting stuck in the bars of her crib (thank God for smart aunts and Wesson oil), you soon worry about new things - more sinister things. I mean, she very well could drive herself to Maine now. Or pick up hitchhikers. Or decide to go buy her own frozen yogurt and eat it all by herself. Horrors!

So in order to keep her from driving to Maine on a whim, I've already followed her to school. But only once. I wasn't sneaky about it or anything. She knew what I was up to. Just making sure of a few things, that's all.

Turns out this whole "helicopter parent" thing we hear about (and accuse others of being) can actually land in your own lap, detouring past obsessive hand sanitizing and making sure toilet paper isn't hanging from your kid's shorts as they walk away from the car.

But I want all this for her, right? Moving onto the next thing. Having more responsibility in life. Moving beyond her expert towel folding skills and onto parallel parking. And maybe even bigger things, like, space exploring or quantum physicist-ing. (Cupcake store entrepreneur will do.)

And I'm thinking, what if I just relaxed a bit - maybe not freak out as much - during all her growing-up-dom? It could happen. After all, I know God has given her "everything she needs for a godly life through the knowledge of him who has called her by his own glory and goodness." (2 Peter 1:3)

Besides, there are perks to having a kid who drives. Think on this: in a year and three months, she can get my cigarettes for me. But then I'll have to start smoking. So how about for now, we just stick to the basics - milk, bread, butter (chocolate, salt and pepper potato chips, Redbox) - and sit tight for the next exciting "first" to come our family's way.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Worst Emergency Kit Packer Ever

I'm naturally NOT very good at doing all sorts of things: singing, swimming, sewing buttons, and twerking. But there's one thing I'm on purpose not very good at: packing emergency food kits for my kids.

"Please pack food your child likes" is what the schools are always instructing us. Shouldn't it be more like "pack the dregs of your pantry because you'll see it all again in 9 1/2 months anyway?"

So just when I was about to stuff a bag with a few last-to-get-eaten raisin granola bars, an old can of tuna, and an even older lime-flavored lollipop (a special post-earthquake treat), my fourth grader tells me that so-n-so's mom packed an aluminum space blanket in her emergency "food" pack.

Apparently this mom is not only prepared for emergencies here on earth, affecting both food and climate changes, but also in outer space. And to think - the whole time - while I considered sending in last year's emergency pack, moms like HER were walking around!

But why not recycle and resend? And save myself a Ziploc freezer bag and a couple of perfectly good Capri-Suns? Besides, emergency or no emergency, has a kid ever died from having to eat expired pear cups? It would have made the 6:00 news - guaranteed.

So in true Jen Hatmaker style, I am sure to win the "Worst Emergency Kit Packer Ever" award. But whether I pack my kids' emergency kits like a boss with cool stuff like astronaut ice cream OR just stick to half-eaten saltine sleeves, God's provision will follow them wherever they go - including outer space. For he has "hedged them in behind and before, and has laid his hand upon them." Psalm 139:5


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

40 Bites!

A 9x12-foot picture of food almost got me into an accident yesterday. The chicken sandwich was HUGE. Make that TWO huge chicken sandwiches. With curly fries. Tomatoes so red. Right there. On the side of a city bus. For the WORLD to see.

My head did a double-take like in old cartoons. Something Bugs Bunny would do. Or more fittingly, Porky Pig. Boing-oi-oi-oi-oing. Good thing a couch-sized fudge brownie wasn't in the pic; I would've crashed for sure.

The whole thing was unacceptable. I turn 40 this week. High time my foody-senses start scaling back. That's what they're telling me, anyway. Seems the right thing to do.

Or maybe...(I love "or maybes!")...I'll be fine if I just stick to my youngest sister's rule for her kids: "Five more bites if you're five years old. Three more if you're three."

Because right now I'm thinking forty more bites is a pretty good deal. And totally fair and square. After all, I am 40.

Hmmm, this getting older business may not be half bad.

But then...

Turning 40 might also mean it's high time I learn to play big people games like Solitaire.* Or read intellectual courtroom thrillers. Or better understand the stock market.

Or better yet...(I also love "better yets!")...

It's high time I start settling into who I am. Oh don't be fooledI'm more than a city-bus-gawking foody who, on occasion, thinks about cake more than Jesus. I am - and you are - a sought-after, thought-about, pursued, understood, and loved child of God.

So let's celebrate and eat cake! It's someone's birthday somewhere!

*From childhood to this day, Solitaire remains a mystery I think I'm still too young to figure out.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Dramatic Monologue?

Certain things in life make me uncomfortable. Like, bad underwear. Or when couples argue (at length) in front of me. Or when I don't get a joke, but laugh anyway. I even get uncomfortable when others feel uncomfortable.

And just like I would NEVER volunteer to sit in a dunk booth, I would certainly hate - detest, loathe, throw up in my mouth - getting "slimed" on Kids' Choice Awards. I'd even prevent myself from getting famous just so that would never happen.

And this past weekend, I was reminded of yet another thing that makes me uncomfortable - dramatic monologues. I would rather have a 10-foot-tall Frankenstein tap me on the shoulder than have to sit through someone's overly theatrical and artsy reading of poetry - or some such thing.

You know, like the finger-snapping Beat poets from the 60s. Or some kind of underground slam poetry scene where they all migrate together, monologuing about nature:

"Sky reddens behind fir trees. Larks twitter. Sparrows cheep cheep cheep. Cheep."

Or about super intense stuff:

"Put a bullet in my brain - straight through my brain - as the rain sweeps her out of my arms."

And if I'm close enough to feel their spit on me, though I may appear poised and attentive, inwardly I'm falling to pieces. So it was a good thing we sat in the way far back when "spoken word artist," Hosanna Poetry (yes, that's what she calls herself), stepped onto the stage at church yesterday.

I quickly looked over at my family and opened my eyes real big, as if to say, "You guys, is this chick for real?" But they seemed totally fine and cool with it. Jeff even put his beret on. Or might as well have. And right then, I knew I had to be a big girl and just listen.

And listen.

And before I knew it, my listening turned into crying. Well, Molly-type crying. I didn't have to leave the room or anything. Turns out Miss Poetry's monologue wasn't about chirping birds or bullets in brains after all, but rather an amazing love - God's love.

Yes it was a monologue. YES it was dramatic. But she hooked me in with her talk about how we tend to stack (or pile or layer - I forgot how she worded it exactly) all the mistakes we've made and all the lies we've believed and all of our "endings" in life. And how God is faithful, for he "heals things, he uses things, he makes things new."

Even when, along the way, "there's a lot of hoping, a lot of waiting, and a lot of still being in this," Hosanna Poetry communicated the story of a "relentless, restoring God." I was wowed.

So maybe I should re-think this whole discomfort thing with dramatic monologues and just stick to scary clowns and when people talk to me through the bathroom stall while peeing. Besides, God wouldn't send his comforter - "I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you." (John 14:18) - if life didn't get a little uncomfy from time to time.