Tonight is an off night for Cookie Baking Night, so I thought I would use the post to share a few of my "Cookie Baking Musings". Last week was Alli's first time at Cookie Baking Night. I found the evening left me very nostalgic. All night long, I kept thinking of the other children and what they were like when they first started and how they have developed as little people over the years. I'll share some of those thoughts with you now:
Emily was actually a little younger than the rest when she started. She was 2 years old. I remember she was obsessed with washing her hands. If anything got on her hands, she would hold up her little finger and say "I'll be right back". Sometimes she would wash her little hands 10 times during the cookie baking part of the evening. She's still a hand washer, but maturity has brought moderation. During those early years, Emily also ate everything with a spoon. I remember the convernsation we had several times during nights when I made spaghetti for supper. She would say, "I need a spoon, please." (which at the time, she pronounced as "poon"). I would say, "We're having spaghetti. Let's eat that with a fork." She would say, "I need a 'poon', please," with a little more intensity in her voice than the time before. Eventually, I would relent, and she would eat her spaghetti with a spoon. That habit, too, eventually gave way to maturity. But every once in awhile, I will ask her during dinner time "Do you need a 'poon' with that?", and she'll smile at me knowingly and giggle.
Several things stand out to me about Ethan when he started Cookie Baking Nights. He was three years old and about a head taller than Emily, who was 5 at the time. (He's now 10 years old and slightly taller than me, which I think puts him around the 5'7" range). When he first started, he had a very limited vocabulary (about 5 words at the time), so communication with the other children was challenging (at that time my nephew Joe was 13, my niece Meghan was 10, and Emily was 5). But what Ethan lacked in language he made up for in sheer enthusiasm to be there. He loved the other children and loved being around them (particularly Joe). He bounced around the house in a little cloud of happiness, and, within a couple months, he was chattering away with the rest of them. One other thing that stands out in my mind is that Ethan would bring pajamas to change into at the end of the evening, which made it a little easier on his parents when he fell asleep in the car on the way home. So, getting Ethan into his pajamas was part of our end-of-the-night ritual for at least a year or so, which he happily complied with. He was so tall and skinny and wore "footie" pajamas at the time. I still see him leaping around the living room in his pajamas, and it brings a smile to my face every time.
Carissa came into Cookie Baking Nights when we were well established, and by that time we had become a well-oiled Cookie Baking machine. The structure was challenging to her at first. I soon learned to gear some of the activities more toward her age level and toward her particular personality bent. She did then and still does love a good project. She is methodical in her approach and sticks with a project to the very end. She's also the deep thinker of the group. She likes to know the logic behind what she's being asked to do.
One particular story stands out to me that demonstrates Carissa's contemplative side. She was about 5 years old, and she came into the kitchen while I was making supper and said, "I have a question." I said, "Okay. I'm ready." (expecting something like "Can we go for a walk after supper?" or "Can we watch a movie tonight?"). The question was this: "How come people have to die? Why doesn't God just take us all to heaven?" I said, "That is a really good question, and I'm happy to report that the Bible has the answer to it." I then asked her if she remembered the recent Bible story we read about Adam and Eve. She said she did. I reminded her that God had given Adam and Eve an entire garden for their enjoyment but asked that they not eat of only one tree within the garden. God said, "If you eat of the fruit of that tree you will surely ______________. Carissa said "die". I reminded her that when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of that tree, when they disobeyed God, they did not die immediately. Before that time, however, no one had ever died (or would die), but when they sinned, death came into the world. Now, they would die some day, as would all mankind. The answer to her question was "sin". (The discussion went on for a short while longer while I explained the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins so that eternal life is possible--in "5 year old" terms, of course). As the conversation came to a close I said, "Does that make sense?" Carissa said, "That makes a lot of sense! I'm going to go home and tell my mom that." (because when you're 5, the most important person in your life tends to be your mom, of course--sorry dads). And off she skipped into the living room, her curiosity satisified.
It is too soon to have many stories about Alli, but I know I will have plenty in the years to come. I also have memories about my older niece and nephew who have since graduated from Cookie Baking Nights, but I will save those for another post.
I'm grateful God has allowed me the opportunity of sharing time with my nieces and nephews on Cookie Baking Nights. I know them in a way I could not have without it and vice versa.
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