“Did you know that dog poop is shaped like a heart, except in a brown way? And what I mean by a ‘brown way’ is, it’s poop.” —Jonah, overheard having a conversation with his brother, prior to which they both were shouting “Diarrhea! Diarrhea! Diarrhea!” (Someone please tell me, whose idea was it to make the word “diarrhea” so fun to say?)
So begins another snow-day morning.
I’ve already yelled twice. My idea of a snow day (coffee by the big front window, quiet, a book, staring out at the world in silence) and my sons’ idea of a snow day (iPad! Sledding! Running maniacally around the house chanting “Diarrhea! Diarrhea! Diarrhea!”) differs considerably.
Saturday, I practically barricaded myself in my bedroom with Jonah’s Pinkie Pie in response to such mania, intent on making some sense of the pony’s tangled mane and tail. (And let me just say, they don’t make My Little Pony hair like they used to. Someone needs to give those ponies a moroccan/argan oil treatment.) Making a braided rope of her long pink tail, I revisited my desire to do girlie things with a little girl. I have never wished that my boys would be otherwise, but there are days when I wish they were just a little less manic bruiser, a little more coloring pages and tea parties.
But what the heck am I saying? I was sitting on my bed braiding the hair of my eight-year-old son’s My Little Pony.
I’ve been thinking about what makes for a day. Is it ticking off the internal list of tasks I keep for myself? Is it getting the laundry done? Is it the book by the window or clearing the driveway of snow? Is it making dinner and fixing other people’s sentences? Is it taking the dogs (and myself) for our walk? Is it the killer margarita my husband makes? (Yes, it is most certainly that.)
Of course it is and of course it’s not. It is also only a way to measure time. A day is not a failure or a success. It’s more like a place, to attend again, over and again. To make the same hundred choices a hundred times over and every so often (I hope, dear God) to make a choice that moves me closer to the habit of love, stepping me back from that infernal internal checklist. It is writing another post like this, about attending and paying attention and moving closer to love and asking myself why I write it and not having a particular answer and writing it anyway.
Because doing a thing over again and over and again holds a strangely-secret joy, which grown-ups forget to remember they can become.
As G.K. Chesterton says in his inimitable way:
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
And if you’re lucky (like me), or blessed, or whatever your words for it are, you’ll hear a few bars of that melodious song—“Get out of my penis! Get out of my butt!”—drifting up the basement stairs.
I kid you not.