Her hair, almost always unkempt, is so very HER: wild, untamed, feminine, beautiful. She asked me to snuggle with her last night, a request I’ve committed to always answer with a ‘yes,’ not wanting their smallness to pass me by because of long days and a strong desire to lay on the couch. It was a good commitment for me to make. Without it, how many heart-opening conversations would I have missed? And truly, it’s just difficult to connect with my kids during the day, there is so much activity and bustle.
I closed my eyes, longing for my own bed and for sleep that wouldn’t come for another two hours. “Open your eyes, mama,” she said. “I have an important question.”
Her older brothers, now eight and almost six, are beginning to ask hard questions of life: What do I do when my friends hurt my feelings? How do I respond when Jesus doesn’t take away my fears? How do I choose the right thing, when the wrong thing is staring me down and looks so easy? I’ve been walking these roads with my boys, astonished with how little I’ve prayed over them — how could I forget the battle for their hearts? How could I think they would somehow be safe from attack, from hard questions or tough circumstances, because of their size? I prayed then that Jesus help me fight well for them, know where to direct them when difficulty strikes.
These things have primed me for something deep, a little piece of her heart, opened wide and waiting for truth-salve from her mama. She put her hand on my cheek, eyes serious with whatever wonder is about to come forth.
“Mama, do you pick your boogers and eat them?”
I laughed. So loud. Her sleeping brother in the top bunk groans and rolled over. She smiled her dimpled smile, and tears stung even as I smiled: she is still so small, and someday she won’t be. Someday, she won’t ask me about boogers, won’t wear four gaudy plastic rings and three purses on our walk down the street, won’t run to me and jump in my arms after a long day at school. I grew up. We all do. And someday, she will too. How will my heart take it, the holding of all these things? The blessings of holding her newborn head, of watching her grow, listening to her chats and seeing her personality emerge, watching her first encounters with truth unfold? How will I not burst as I watch her move from seedling to something stronger, firmer, steadier? What a gift. What a completely undeserved and gracious gift.
“Well, I pick my nose, but I don’t eat my boogers,” I replied.
“Yeah, they taste really gross,” she said.
“Why don’t you put them in a tissue instead, then throw them in a trashcan?” I’m still recovering from the serious tone of her not-so-serious question.
She thinks. Then, she knows exactly what to do with them, and her face lights up with the knowledge.
“I know! Let’s plant the boogers. Then maybe they will grow into a booger tree!”
We giggled with delight at the funny image this created. Then we snuggled and I prayed for her rest, her growth, her still-smallness.
Her breathing slows and her arms fall loosely on my shoulder, jerking slightly as she sinks into sleep. I crawled from her bunk and just looked at her, thanking Jesus for letting me see these things. It is a grace I take for granted, but when I see it, I don’t understand it: why me? Why have you given it to me? Today, I simply give thanks, for this sweet conversation with that wild little girl.