Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Anticipatory Helping

(This is a story from February that i never found the time to finish. Now that spring might actually happen, I am trying to wrap up all my winter posts!)

The adjustment to life with a new baby sister was a difficult one for the BabyGirl. She loved her sister, you better believe it, but all of a sudden life was different. It was uncertain and unpredictable. These bleary-eyed zombies who had replaced Mama and Daddy didn't act right. They hardly ever smiled, they didn't play as much, and they constantly demanded silence.

The BabyGirl's confusion intensified when The Professor first went back to work and left me to keep the two girls alive all on my own. In those early months, it took FOREVER to put Bright Eyes down for a nap. During the seemingly interminable process, the BabyGirl would stand in the corner and bawl her eyes out. Because of her loud crying, it then took double-forever to get Bright Eyes to sleep. I employed my most creative age-appropriate logic to inform her that as soon as Bright Eyes went to sleep, she would have me all to herself! We could snuggle and laugh and read books and play dolls just the two of us. But the louder that she was during the put-down process, the longer it would take, and the longer until i could devote myself to her.

She could not grasp the concept.

Eventually though, life settled down and the uncertainty abated. Or at least it settled down a little. She understood our new rhythm and no longer cried during Bright Eyes' sleeping procedures.

And then, one magical day, she was a step ahead of me.

I was changing Bright Eyes' diaper in preparation for a nap. The BabyGirl was perched in her spot, standing on the arm of a chair next to the changing table so she could interact with Bright Eyes. In my head i thought about asking the BabyGirl to grab the Woombie from Bright Eyes' crib. I decided against it because it sounded so lazy of me; for crying out loud it was four steps to the left.

Well that BabyGirl hopped down from the arm of the chair, got the woombie, and proudly presented it to me at the changing table! IT WAS LIKE SHE READ MY MIND. Since i never verbalized my request to her, it was kinda creepy that she did it immediately.

I gushed with thanks to her because i truly was impressed. Then she abruptly ran out of the rooom. I thought it was odd, but whatever. I continued woombying up Bright Eyes. A moment later the BabyGirl returned, lugging one of her little chairs. Ugh, i thought. We're having such a happy time, i don't want to get onto her for that right now.

She had recently realized that if you want something that is out of your reach, simply use a chair! Need something from the very back of the kitchen counter? Bring a chair over! Want something from on top of the dresser? Get a chair!

There were chairs in every room of the house. She was constantly taking those things into the kitchen to reach all kinds of dangerous things. Her favorite was to take a chair into the bathroom to turn on the bathroom sink and play in the water for 30 minutes while i was occupied with Bright Eyes. I was SO OVER IT with her chairs. All of a sudden the only safe place to hide things i didn't want her to have was on top of the fridge. You can only fit so many things on top of the fridge, and i had exceeded capacity.

It was our daily struggle; her bringing the chairs out of the living room and me taking them back.

So when i saw her schlepping a chair into Bright Eyes' room at the exact minute i needed stillness and silence for the naptime protocol, i was annoyed. But i held back for a minute to see what would develop before i laid down the law on the chair.

She placed the chair in front of the light switch. Then she stood on it with her hand hovering over the switch. She was at the ready for my command. She said to me, "I'll turn the light out for you, Mama!"

Once again, i was amazed. She knew the naptime sequence by heart, and was helping me before i could even ask! She anticipated my next move and started working to meet my needs without me having to request it.

It was so beautiful. My sweet girl had come such a long way from the days when she had stood in the corner and cried her eyes out. She studied my every move for months until she figured things out, and now here she is confidently participating. It reminded me of Jesus saying, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business." The BabyGirl knew my business, and was actively involved.

Anticipatory helping is a very valuable gift. It requires insight into a person's needs, and a well-timed intervention. It involves an understanding of the situation.

During the past few weeks, we have been blessed by a wonderful act of anticipatory helping by The Professor's dad, aka The Judge.

You see, our tiny little rental house comes with two driveways and 17 miles of sidewalks. Seriously, i think that we have more square footage of concrete outside our house than we have flooring inside it. When we first looked at this house, it was summer. It did not occur to us at the time what all that concrete signified: HOURS OF SHOVELLING IN THE WINTER.

We did not own a snow blower when we moved here from the Big City. We did at least own a shovel, but through some mix-up it got left behind (and subsequently stolen). During that first winter here, we could barely afford toilet paper, let alone a snow blower. We bought the cheapest, humblest snow blower that money could buy. In its defense, it is better than shovelling by hand. But it is no match for the 17 miles of sidewalks. On an average snowfall, it takes four hours to clear one driveway and all the sidewalks (we gave up on driveway #2). It is a huge time commitment for the poor Professor, with many late nights and early mornings out in the snow.

In a huge act of love and generosity, The Judge gave us a wonderful gift! He arranged for a snow removal company to come clear our snow. He did all the research, got estimates, selected a company, and paid for it all behind our backs. We were not involved at all. A big winter storm was headed our way with a forecasted 12 inches of snow. The Judge called and said that he had handled everything! All we had to do was sit back and wait for the snow man to come!

Because of The Judge's generosity, we were able to have the best snow day of our lives. We made some beautiful family memories that i will carry with me always. Relieved of the burden of snow removal, we were able to have a completely carefree day playing in the snow and enjoying ourselves. The BabyGirl in particular had the time of her life! We tromped and sledded and made snowmen to our hearts' content! The BabyGirl thinks that the best thing to do with snow is to eat it, so she chowed down. It was so much fun.

Without The Judge's gift, our day would have been much different. The BabyGirl would have been elated to find that Daddy was not going to work! And then she would have been crushed to discover that he had to spend the equivalent of a work day outside clearing snow. When he finally finished, she would have said, "Now can we go play in the snow???" But he would be sick and tired of snow, having just spent six hours fighting to subdue it.

Another benefit of all that free time was that The Professor was able to help our elderly backyard neighbor with her sidewalks. It was the gift that kept on giving!

We are SO THANKFUL to The Judge for giving us a wonderful day together as a family! Well, Bright Eyes might not be quite so thankful. She did not enjoy being stuffed into her bunny suit and dragged out into the cold:

However, the rest of us enjoyed it enough to make up for her!



No comments:

Post a Comment