(Except when I ask her to help clean her room or pick up the dog "souvenirs" from the backyard.
When I make those requests she always seems to be suddenly deathly ill or otherwise occupied.
She wants to help me
start the dishwasher,
drive the car,
push the shopping cart,
saute loudly popping things on the stove,
put on eyeliner,
wash the dog,
put groceries on the check-out belt,
cut my toenails,
According to parenting books I should encourage this behavior....and for the most part, I do.
I think it's great to have someone who really wants to help me...
And I know that if I "train her" now, then when she's older she will be a huge help.
I would guess that I am not a parenting book author's favorite person.
There are some things I simply say "no" to.
The stove thing isn't so safe,
My eyesight is too necessary to have an eyeliner shoved into my retina,
And I have had my foot mutilated by TOO MANY shopping carts to allow "helping" with that one.
For the most part though ...she is my tag-along-assistant-extrordinaire.
And I don't think her esteem has been too damaged by my "no's"...
Because she keeps on asking to help.
But here's the thing....
She's happy when she helps me....
But she is THRILLED when I ASK her to help.
And if it is a job where she can tell she has been truly and honestly needed?
She is down-right over-the-moon giddily ecstatic.
She will get this look of joyous amazement like..
Wow...I was really useful!
I mean after all,
Doesn't everyone like to feel that way?
When you get your paycheck at the end of a long week,
It's good to be able to take care of your bills...
But it's also nice to know you were useful to your customers.
When you can answer a question on some obscure subject and save someone a ton of research
(or a quick trip to google-land)
It feels good to know you can be useful to them.
When someone tells you that they, "Couldn't have done it without you!"
It's a great feeling to know that your knowledge and/or skills were usable.
What's really cool to me though,
Is when I don't think I am usable...
And I am chosen anyway...
I become an asset.
Last month the kids and I went to Moore, Oklahoma to deliver some thank-you goodies to all of the volunteers helping around the town.
We knew that our city needed those volunteers desperately when we had our storm 2 years ago....and we wanted those people to know how appreciated they were.
Bunches of amazing friends and neighbors baked and brought over DELICIOUS treats for us to deliver for them.
One special lady brought yummy muffins and a huge tupperware container full of....
She explained to me that her children had put some "comfort kits" together.
Each one consisted of:
a new stuffed animal,
and a pair of cuddly PJ's.
Originally her kids (ages 13 and 10!!!) had a vision of these kits being given to children abruptly entering the foster system so they would have something of their own.
(How awesome is that!?!?!)
But when their mom explained why she was baking muffins, they asked if they could send some of these bundles with her because there might be kids in Moore who would need them.
Once I wiped my eyes enough to see
I promised the mom that I would do my very best
to put these precious gifts in the hands that needed them most.
So....we went to Moore.
FYI....not a bunch of kids around a disaster zone.
We met a woman who's grandkids had lost everything and she happily-tearfully took a few bundles to give them...but that was it.
By lunch we had passed out almost all of the baked goods....but still had the huge bin of "comfort kits" in the back of my car.
After we had eaten the kids and I discussed HOW we were supposed to find people to give these things to!!
We didn't know our way around the town and had NO idea where to find specific groups of people.
We gave up.
On ourselves, that is.
We realized that God was going to have to do some serious rein-grabbing and steer us to the right people or place.
We bowed our heads in Qdoba and prayed,
Thank you for letting us come here today.
Thank you for all of the people back in Joplin who want to help this town.
Please God....show us what to do with these bundles.
Give us a divine appointment with whomever really needs them.
Guide us to where you want us to be...
Show us where to go and what to do...
And thanks for being with us."
Then we loaded in the car and drove back to the site where Plaza Elementary School used to stand.
A chain-link fence encircled the area, and people milled around putting mementos on the fence and just looking and talking.
We pulled up to the curb and parked, and I said,
I saw a man with three younger kids standing by the fence.
I was out of the car before I realized it (left the door open in fact)
and walking toward him with my kids scrambling after us.
"Excuse me, Sir?" I asked.
"Are these your kids?"
(What? Dang. Dang.)
"Well...sort of. They're students of mine. I am a teacher....used to teach here in fact. Those guys were students here. So many of them lost so much...."
(And here he teared up and couldn't go on. He later told me that he hadn't cried in days....and he wasn't sure why he suddenly did.)
"Ummm....this might sound strange....but....
I think you're the person we've been praying to meet."
I certainly received an interesting look...but when I went on to explain what we had and what we'd been praying for....he started smiling.
He told us that he was going to a meeting
at a church that would serve as a temporary school next year.
And at that meeting would be many of the kids and families who had been "displaced."
In other words...it was a gathering of families who had lost their homes and weren't sure what to do about the upcoming school year.
The teachers and administration were going to discuss options and try to learn the families' needs
AND give them some uplifting hope.
These "comfort kits"??
You bet your sweet doozy they would be well used and received there!!
So we transferred the big Tupperware container into his car and I gave the last pan of brownies to a volunteer group from Alabama that was riding around with this teacher.
We got to see where school would be held that year,
And met some truly wonderful people.
And when we piled back in the car I turned to the kids and said,
"WASN'T THAT AMAZING????"
And one of them asked,
"Do you think God let us meet that man?"
"Duh!" said the sensitive other sibling,
"Why do you think He put that guy there right after we prayed? And why do you think we had all of these animals in the car anyway?"
After gently removing the offended sibling's vice grip from around the "duh" sibling's arm, I sat back in my seat.
Well.....God saw fit to use us.
To use me.
Even in my dirty cracked dented and dinged state....
He allowed me the unbelievable privilege of being a courier.
Of being the transportation that delivered some children's beautiful gifts
into the hands of someone who would put them
just where God wanted them to go.
God knew that there were certain little souls who would benefit from the packages that people in Joplin had put together.
He could have just made care packages appear outside these kids' doors.
He could have convinced the makers of the care kits to go to Oklahoma themselves.
He could have hinted at the teacher to make some comfort bundles himself!
He let me in on it.
And He let me be useful.
And He let me feel needed.
And in that....He made me feel loved.
And I stand amazed.
when my daughter is helping me...
If she feels even an inkling
of this amazement...
this wonderful feeling of being useful to someone who does not actually need help but is using you to show you how loved you are.....
Then she can totally clean toilets with me anytime.