It's one of the more tricky hours of the day. That hour just after rest time, just before dinner. Stories have been finished, pictures have been sketched, and children begin to emerge from their curled-up-with-a-book positions. Everyone is expectant, hungry and a bit restless. And they all look to me. I look back (with an eye on the stove and a spoon in mid-stir) -- and panic.
The older ones are learning patience. I'm not as worried about them. But the little ones still start to melt during this crucial hour. Every imaginable discomfort and offense surfaces. Much tending takes place. I must quickly put out smoky fires among my babes, while taking care that no burning takes place on the stove as well.
If I act quickly enough, I can disarm the little time-bombs before any damage takes place. These little bundles of energy simply need to be directed. Like Colonel Brandon keeping watch over Marianne, they are silently begging, Give me an occupation, Miss Dashwood, or I shall run mad!
Tonight as I faced this frightening hour, I was reminded of a phrase learned as a child from my dear friend, "Uncle" Ron. His smiling, rich voice taught my siblings and me that "Busy hands are happy hands." We used to laugh and giggle and clap our hands over the chant, eagerly taking on whatever task came our way.
So the minute I saw Avery's face begin to contort this evening, I knew it was time for her little hands to have an occupation. I pulled a chair up to the counter, opened the flour bin and glanced her way. It was all the encouragement she needed. Aidan was quick to follow, dragging his own chair around the kitchen island, hoping to crack an egg or two.
Disaster averted. Just in time. Dinner was late because it simply takes longer when six hands are bumping into each other. But those hands were happy and those hands were helping. Eventually, six more hands joined ours, and the kitchen became a bustling mess of activity, each one helping in his own way.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23
And lest you think, dear reader, that our Lawson hands are always gentle and kind, let me dispel that myth right away! We've come up with our own little chant (complete with silly, exaggerated motions) to help during those times when hands insist upon flying in the direction of hurting rather than helping. The frowns gradually lift into smiles before the poem reaches its end:
These hands are for . . .
Working, (fists "build" like blocks)
Playing, (hands clap)
Helping, (open hands extend to mama)
Praying. (hands come together in prayer)