Plan #18 – Keep planting seeds


On the 4th Sunday of each month, Quinland and I teach Sunday School to the preschoolers of our parish. We’ve been doing it for about three years and it is a highlight of the month for me.

The kids are amazing. They are between the ages of three and five, and this year they are almost all boys. One is very shy; a couple are very enthusiastic; one is just plain adorable, with his big eyes and his tightly-clutched stuffed animals. We fall in love with them every year and are so bummed when they get promoted to the next class.

The hour goes by incredibly quickly. We say a prayer, sing a song, listen to a very basic version of that Sunday’s Gospel, do an activity together, eat a snack, say another prayer, and go back to the pews to sit with the parents.

I love sharing our faith with these little ones. They are so eager to share what they already know about God, so excited to talk about their lives and their families, and so interested in learning new things. The fact that they are cute as can be (and hysterically funny) only adds to the appeal.

My very favorite thing about teaching this class, though, is getting to teach it with Quinland. I love to listen to Q read the Gospel, watch how the little guys look up to him, see how easily he can run the classroom. The last few months, Quinland has asked to bring friends along to our class. None of them go to church with their families, so it’s cool to give them a peek at what we do. (Our classroom is behind the altar, next to the sacristy, so it really feels like a behind-the-scenes tour.)

Best of all, I love the fact that teaching the preschoolers has boosted Quinland’s enthusiasm for coming to Mass. I think it is common for young people to start to question their beliefs, to work out for themselves how faith fits into their lives. I love seeing that faith transmitted from the Big Kid to the little kids and to see that spark kept alive.

As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.
Joshua 24:15

It’s kidney stones…

Once upon a time (at the end of May), I had a kidney stone.

Not that I knew this at the time. As far as I knew, the proper diagnosis for what I was feeling was I Am Going To Die Right Now. They say that women may not have the classic symptoms of a heart attack – chest pain, shortness of breath, pain in your arms – but whatever their symptoms might be, I was pretty sure that “a knife is stabbing me in the ribs from behind, over and over and over” was one of them.

I was pacing between the bed, where I would futilely try to lie down in a comfortable position, and the bathroom, where I was sure I would be sick from the pain. I told David I loved him, just in case I didn’t make it and there was even the slightest possibility he didn’t already know.

Thank goodness the pain was so terrible, because David had been invited to game with the Rip City Gamers and had it not been so severe, I might have told him to go ahead and go. As it was, he drove me to Urgent Care as I lay curled on the backseat trying not to throw up from the pain. I barely made it: he pulled up to Kaiser, I sat up, opened the door, and was sick all over their entry.

The place was packed, but I wasn’t worried about the wait. Surely once I gasped out my vital information to the triage nurse, I’d be whisked back to a special room for Very Bad Cases. Instead, I was kept waiting for an hour and a half, which was strangely reassuring.

Glad to find myself clinging to life, I spent the time alternating between trying to read fan fiction, trying to pee (I must have run to the restroom four times), and trying to drink enough water to get the sick taste out of my mouth. None of these endeavors was successful.

Over time, the horrific pain subsided and I got a bit of relief texting with Ina, who thought it sounded like her recent attacks of gallstones. She armed me with a list of questions for the doctor, so as soon as I was called back, I ran the gallbladder scenario by him. He agreed that it was possible and ordered some blood tests, but he seemed more interested in my asking him for a urinalysis due to all my unsuccessful bathroom trips.

When all the lab results came in an hour later, I got the final determination: a) probably a kidney stone – pending another appointment for an ultrasound – and b) probably an ulcer. (?!) Thus began a few weeks of medical excitement ’round these parts.

There was a silver lining to the whole nightmare evening, however. Quinland had been at dragon boat practice while all this was going on, and we hadn’t left him a note or anything when we left the house. I texted him as we were about to leave Kaiser:

I'm Joey

I can’t tell you how thrilled I was that without knowing any of my symptoms, with only the simple phrase, “I am Joey,” my child accurately and immediately jumped to “kidney stone.” I am obviously winning at this whole parenting thing.

Tidy, dishes, laundry, clean

There had been an alarming trend of martyrdom here at my house in the recent past. Both David and I thought we were the only ones doing anything, and Quinland pretty much thought she was being ordered to do things constantly.

I decided there had to be a better way. (Of course I did; that’s what I do.)

I have brainstormed many a scheme over the years, but this one seems to be going strong. It’s called “Tidy, Dishes, Laundry, Clean.” Each one of us has to do a job from each of those four areas every evening and during any clean-up time on the weekend. That’s it. It’s snappy, it’s easy to remember, and it gives people a measure of control over their actions while still being effective.

Adding “dishes” and “laundry” to the list was a no-brainer. They need to be done, over and over, and it’s best if they get done every day. “Tidy” was added for David’s benefit, as he thinks Q and I don’t tidy up after ourselves properly, and “clean” was added to make me happy, since I think neither of them ever cleans anything. (Quinland can use “clean” to take a shower, which she thinks is a great way to get out of work and I think is a great bit of reverse psychology.)

There’s no more hassle. I can say, “Hey, I see you loaded the dishwasher. Go ahead and put your laundry away and let me know what you are going to tidy and what you are going to clean.” This no-nagging process makes everyone so much happier.

How do you motivate yourself / your spouse / your kid(s) to do daily work? Do you have a tried and true system. or have you tried and discarded as many as I have? I think this one will be good for a while. I’ll keep you posted!