While M and I were out walking, J was visiting her new best friend, a three-year-old from her class who lives just a short walk down the street. These two kids play together for hours very happily -- which has been a nice discovery for the boy's mother and me. Whichever house they're playing at, they're so totally absorbed in their pretend play that the adult on the premises is actually able to get tons of work done uninterrupted. Heck, we could probably even take a nap, which would be unthinkable with just one of the kids home alone.
And B was furiously cleaning the house. He cleaned out the car, cleaned the upstairs bathroom, swept the dining room, vacuumed the stairs, vacuumed the living room, straightened the library bookshelves, and put away his clothes. The key to this burst of activity? Our chore chart pays out. Cleaning out the car and cleaning the bathroom are $1 (each); vacuuming the living room is 25 cents; straightening books is 50 cents. And in order to collect these earnings, the kids have to do their regular chores for free -- cleaning up the living room, cleaning their rooms, putting away their clothes, etc. It all gets checked off on the chore chart, which has a space for totalling earnings. At the moment, B has his eyes on a $4 toy that he would like to buy -- hence the burst of activity. So while it's not completely gratuitous, it's gratifying to see that he's capable of working hard when he's motivated.
B does earn the golden halo award, though. We went to a surprise birthday party for a friend who survived a liver transplant, and the kids each got to take home a balloon. (You can see this one coming way down the road . . . . ) Well, M's balloon popped for no apparent reason, which resulted in great, great sadness. (By this point it was late, past their bedtime.) I tried to comfort her as best I could: "You know, maybe your balloon is in balloon heaven?"
"I don't think there IS a balloon heaven!" (You have to imagine this said through many tears and sobs.)
"Well, the Bible says that nothing good is ever lost forever; God catches every good thing and saves it."
"How could that be when my balloon is just lying there on the ground in pieces? I think it's just dead as a doorknob." More sobbing.
You have to appreciate that, besides the fact that it was past her bedtime, she had named this balloon and had been playing with it happily. Also, it was a very pretty deep purple.
Well, B very somberly and nobly carried his own yellow balloon across the hall from his room and gave it to M, offering words of consolation and comfort as he did so.
(Earlier, I had been trying to sympathize with M; she said she';d only had the balloon for half a night, and I said, well, and it wasn't even half a night, and B chimed in from the next room, "Dad, stop putting an extra weight on her soul!")
B even tied the balloon to her bookcases so it wouldn't pop on the ceiling like the other one had. This didn't completely comfort M, but it comforted me, and I lay down in bed with M until she fell asleep.