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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Preschoolers: can't live with 'em, can't live without them

Actually, I love preschoolers. They are such delightful little people and they have amazing minds. I am discovering this more and more as I teach a preschool Sunday school at our church. HOWEVER, I recently had an encounter with a preschooler that was somewhat odd, yet entertaining.

Last Saturday in the early afternoon, I went on a quest for scrapbook paper. I had specific needs to fill. I was planning to make origami butterflies for my students and I needed delightful, girly paper for the young ladies and something manly for the guys. I decided to head downtown to a particular store where the selection is huge. The problem with the downtown area, is there has been a pretty good turn over of stores over the years and I usually can't remember where the little specialty shops are. I always have to plan my point of entry onto Main Street carefully, as it has one-way streets on either side of it and if I miss, I have to drive several blocks, making several turns, to get to the place I want to be.

On Saturday, I missed, and though I actually parked a block south of where I wanted to be, and therefore could have walked to the store easily, I was also on a time table. Instead, I decided to take a chance and go into the much tinier store on the block where I parked. These details may seem frivolous to you, but they set the scene and given me an opportunity to practice my grammar.

After depositing little coins into the curbside slot machine (which NEVER pays off, by the way), I went into the store. I really like this little store. It is quaint and the name evokes feelings of womanly fellowship and sisterhood. There are a lot of pieces of paper to choose from, but I was having the hardest time finding what I needed. I wanted a delightful little flowery pattern for the girls. I had pastels in mind. Preferably in those pretty patterns that have surfaced since the Y2K scare. The ones with circles and dots for petals and little stick rays with other dots on the end of them for other petals and lots more dots and circles in more colors than one would expect. No good. Couldn't find anything that was light weight enough to work for origami in that pattern.

The little shop has two rooms with a single doorway between them. As I was slowly moving in the general direction of the doorway with the intention of entering the second room, I overheard a conversation between a young mother and her 3ish year old girl. Mom was telling the little girl not to touch things, to come over to her, etc., without much conviction and the little girl knew it.

When I stepped through the doorway and into that side of the shop, I was somewhat between the mother and daughter; though if you had taken a ruler and drawn lines between the three of us, we would have made a triangle rather than a straight line. I was amused by the bantering back and forth between the two, but I was mostly focused on my paper chase (time was passing and I had an appointment with my own daughter soon and we only had about 25 hours before she would be boarding a plane to head back to college).

I had begun to scan the rack of papers just inside the door when I heard the mother say something like "(Insert unremembered name here) you better come over to me or someone is going to kidnap you and we will never see each other again."

I thought her tone was rather odd (I can't convey it properly in writing) and a bit scary the way she put it, but I remembered how careful I was in stores when my daughter was young so I thought I understood where she was coming from. I was rather surprised when the little girl cast a look of hate and malice toward me. This was in the midst of my pattern perusal, you understand, and I was a bit slow on the uptake.

The mother then insisted the little angel come to her and this time the delightful darling did. As she walked past me, she reached out and hit me. I didn't respond outwardly. She is all of 3ish and doesn't pack much of a punch, but did find it amusing and began to wonder if the odd words her mother had used were some kind of prearranged secret code to warn of potential dangerous kidnappers in close proximity.

The mother then said, again in what I can only describe as the oddest tone, "We need to take you out of here!" To which the sweetie pie asked, "Why?" "Because you are burning up with a fever!" and she took her by the hand and they went to the other side of the shop...I assumed they would be leaving and I was thinking how irresponsible she had been to bring her daughter out shopping in the first place. Except...they didn't leave. The mother continued to shop (as did I) and say annoying things and a clerk intervened on behalf of her goods, overseeing the antics of the wee child while mom...continued to shop.

In the mean time, I found a manly red bandanna pattern that I thought was lightweight enough for my purposes and continued to look for the right design for the girls. It meant I had to go back to the other side, and I am happy to report that I was able to carefully scrutinize every sheet of paper in the place without receiving anymore smacks from Goldilocks.

I finally found a sweet design of dainty red flowers with random dots on a mottled gold background that was light weight and perfect for my needs. I pulled out the required number of sheets and headed to the register to check out.

Sigh...momma and sweetie pie were there ahead of me. And they were not in a hurry. They had the clerk engaged in all kinds of unknown activities and then the mother picked up some lame little flowery bracelet and inquired, "How much to make one of these?" "Nine dollars" was the reply - which is highway robbery if you ask me. "(Insert unremembered name here), would you like to make one of these?" So, I had to wait until they had completed said lame little flowery bracelet before mommy dearest would take her little dearest out of the store.

I have thought about this incident since and though the little girl did seem to have a runny nose, I wonder if she had a fever after all, or if this was mom's defense mechanism against would be kidnappers. It is really a sad commentary on the world when mothers have to be so afraid for their children. Believe me mom-of-that-little-girl, I understand. My daughter is 21. Wait till yours grows up and goes off to college in a different state and you are no longer close enough to protect her.

After paying for my papers, I went and picked up my daughter and we went shopping together. Then we went home and she packed and then we played a long game of Carcassonne until really late. Then we went to bed and got up early and got ready for church. Then she helped me in my preschool Sunday school class where the kids got to color pictures with markers and play like they were butterflies during roll call and hear about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and make watercolor pictures of the angel that rolled away the stone and then we gave them their little bags that had jelly beans in the bottom and a butterfly. The gold and red ones were for the girls and the striped ones were for the boys. The bandanna paper was just too thick, so I ended up having to do a striped pattern in Microsoft Paint and transfer it into a Word document and enlarge it to fit the page and print several sheets so I could make origami butterflies for the boys too. After church we went home and had some lunch and I helped my daughter finish up her packing and we three (husband, daughter, me) piled into the car and drove to the airport. On the way, I sat in the back and read a children's story out loud to them. We still love children's stories. We left as she was putting her shoes back on after going through airport security...alone. She made it back to school without incident, even though she had to sit in a really big airport for a while until her ride got there.

I am so grateful that she belongs to Jesus Christ. He loves her far more than I ever could and He keeps close watch over her. That doesn't mean He will keep her from all harm, but He is in control and He works all circumstances together for our good. I rest in that promise. I have to, she's too far away to hear our prearranged secret code to warn of potential danger.

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