Tish says Grace for us at meal time. She usually says something like, “Thank you, God for this beautiful world and for Taylor Swift. And please help the people in Indiana.” She means India, which is on her mind because it was Sister’s original IJM destination. We never correct her, though. Hoosiers need prayers, too.
Tishy has always been comfortable talking to God. I think their relationship blossomed when she was two. Tish spent most of her two year old life in her bedroom taking some time out. At first we tried to put her on the stairs for time out so she wouldn’t feel isolated, but she flailed and screamed and heckled us so mercilessly that we started worrying more about our eardrums and self esteem than about her isolation. So we moved her time out destination to her bedroom.
After every one of Tish’s flagrant offenses, I’d propel her (guide her lovingly) into her room and close the door behind me, while she’d scream and fight desperately to get out. She put up such a fight that I’d have to stay in the hallway and hold her bedroom door closed with all of my might. I don’t care who you are, it is impossible to appear dignified under these circumstances. I’d sweat and shake and brace my feet against the door and pull like I was in a tug-of-war with the Incredible Hulk. I’d sweat and wince and pray that Tish would get distracted by a teddy bear or a piece of fluff, which she eventually would. And before I’d tiptoe away I’d always hear her quietly talking to herself.
I just assumed she was calling down various curses upon my head, but when I asked Chase if he knew what she was doing in there, he said “She’s talking to God. Tishy always talks to God.” So I peeked in one day, and there she was, lying flat on her back on the floor, staring through the ceiling and chattering away. When she came out, I asked her who she’d been talking to and she said God. So I asked her if she talked to Him often and she said, “I talk to Him when I’m really mad or really sad or really happy.” Hm, I thought. Me too. I was pleased, but that night I did add an amendment to my prayers asking God not to believe a word of what Tish said about me. I may have felt Him raise an eyebrow at me.
(To be quite honest, I find this eyebrow raising to be a little judgy and unfair on God’s part. I feel I must point out, in defense of my own parenting imperfections, that God’s ONLY CHILD was PERFECT. And I’m not even going to mention the little detail that He hired TWO OTHER PEOPLE to raise His ONLY AND PERFECT CHILD, for fear that this might be tiptoeing towards blasphemy. So I’ll merely suggest that raising baby Jesus and raising Tishy- apples and oranges. That’s all I’m saying. No disrespect.)
Yesterday morning at breakfast we asked Tish to get started saying Grace for us. She looked at us and said very seriously, “Today, I’m going to dance for Grace.” Then she put down her spoon, stood up, and twirled around the kitchen in her pajamas. Eventually she twirled back to her seat and stopped to shake her bottom, which she refers to as her “best move.” Then she sat back down and picked up her spoon again. She looked at us patiently and waited for us to say “Amen.” So we did.
It was the best Grace ever.
“We had been praying all along . . . we had been being ourselves before God.”
- Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk