Prepare Him Room

From the archives: Teaching Tuck and Ty, December 2011


Joy to the world,
the Lord has come.
Let earth receive her king.
Let every heart prepare him room,
and heaven and nature sing.

I am realizing that I always thought of this lyric as my reminder to set aside the wrapping paper, shopping lists and bows, to slow down with the glitter and the ornaments, long enough to make room in my heart – for even a moment – to remember that this season is about so much more.

I know now: sadness will take up every inch it’s allowed.

This Christmas could easily pass with my heart wrapped entirely in grief and gray. As I listen to this song, it causes me to think differently.

To make room in my sadness for joy.
To allow my darkness to be soft enough to be aware of the light.
To let sadness step aside sometimes.
To remember – for even a moment – that this season is about so much more than death, loss, and heartache.

(Because I could very easily give my holiday to those three.)

May my broken heart prepare him room.

* * *

“May his light shine in our darkness and may I be ready to receive it with joy and thanksgiving.”

~ Henri Nouwen

Small Blue Snow Boot

From the Archives of Teaching Tuck and Ty

* * *

We decided to do a family trip to King Soopers on Saturday night. (For my readers in the midwest, this is the Colorado version of Kroger. Think Giant Eagle… with mountains.)


The boys were both happy and cooperative when we left the house, but as we strolled the aisles and balanced food around them in the cart, they began to lose their patience with us and the whole grocery shopping process. Well, to be specific, Tyler wasn’t particularly bothered, since he sat above it all in his carseat, but Tucker was wishing to be down, down, down.


He has started this new sassy, back-talking thing, where he shouts at us, “Bah!” He does it in response to any kind of sharp tone from either one of us, and when he’s really mad, he couples it with ramming his head into my thigh. It’s darling.


Robb and I have had enough of this attitude of his, and we had decided together that from now on, he gets one warning when he is mean, and then he gets a spanking. (I am not opposed to spanking; I think it is a very important and appropriate punishment when done correctly, but unfortunately a few overly angry, out of control parents out there have given it a bad name.)


He needs to know that it is never okay to be mean, no matter how angry he is.


(Could I just say, this is an especially fine line for us to determine, since Tucker doesn’t have other words to show us his anger and frustration. I have taught him the sign for mad, but other than that, his choices are few in showing his emotions. As I said, it’s definitely okay for him to be angry, but he cannot be mean. It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference, but I am asking the Lord for wisdom on that one.)




Tucker was growing more and more agitated as I checked things off my list, and he finally crossed the line into the yelling and talking back. “Bah! Bah! Bah!”


Robb looked at me, and we shared a parental, nonverbal exchange, in which we agreed: it was time. He had been warned enough, and it was time for a trip to the bathroom. Robb snatched him out of his seat in the cart, and he carried him to the front of the store to the men’s restroom.


Meanwhile, I finished my shopping.


The two of them joined me at the checkout counter, and that’s when I noticed: Tucker was missing one of his snowboots. And you know, after filling my cart with this week’s recipe ingredients, that boot could have been anywhere. I suspected he lost it in his transition from the cart to the restroom, but who could know for sure?


Robb began the search, tracing our steps. The clerk said to me, “Ma’am, is he missing a shoe?”


“Yes, and my husband is looking for it. Thank you for asking.”


And just like that, before I knew what was happening, he picked up his telephone and announced over the intercom:


“Attention, King Soopers Customers. Attention, King Soopers Customers. If anyone finds a small blue snowboot, please deliver it to the customer service desk. I repeat: If anyone finds a small blue snowboot, please deliver it to the customer service desk. Thank you.”




He began scanning my items, while employees came from far and wide: “Oh, you’re missing a shoe? Can we see the other one, so we know what to look for? Would you like to give us your name and phone number, so we can call you if it shows up?”


Meanwhile, Tucker is still crying his head off. I knew he was still crying over his conversation with Daddy in the bathroom, and anyone who knows American Sign Language knew that he had asked if he could please still ride the penny horse before we left, and I had said no. His tears had nothing to do with his feet, but everything to do with this will being thwarted.


But to all the passersby, and there were many, he appeared to be terribly brokenhearted over a lost boot. They were patting his hand, smiling, consoling, and saying, “We’ll find it, little buddy.” They all but offered him a candy bar to dry his tears.


Finally, Robb came back, with the boot in his hand. Get this: He had found it in the cleaning aisle, on the bottom shelf, behind some merchandise.


That was one good kick, Tucker. I’ll give you that.


Everyone was relieved the boot was found, not the least of which was myself, since this meant we could go home. Finally.


We bid farewell to all the sojourners who helped us complete the journey, we bundled our children to go out into the winter’s night, and we loaded the groceries into the minivan to drive the 4 minutes to our home.


The boys were now starving to death, as evidenced by their wailing and gnashing of teeth, so I got them settled in their high chairs and began fixing a baby meal, a toddler meal, and two adult meals; all the while, Robb carried in bag after bag of food from the garage.


Before we could eat, several new things went wrong; I won’t bother you with the details or the list of errors, but suffice it to say that I was drawing dangerously close to my limit. The boys were still screaming, and I had really had enough.


We finally sat down to join Tucker who was already eating and to continue feeding Tyler his jar of Ginger Chicken and Vegetables (which he would not swallow, but held his mouth open with it sitting just inside his lower lip, waiting for someone to catch what he would not consume). I tried to pull the high chair closer to me, but it got caught on the Elmo backpack underneath the table, and I couldn’t move it closer.


This, my friends, was the last straw.


In total exasperation, I held my head in my hands. I needed a moment. I wasn’t sure what was coming next with my emotions, but I was at the end of my rope.


Robb jumped up from his chair and said, “What do you need?”


“The high chair. Can’t move it. The backpack. In the way.” I was reduced to fragmented sentences, which is really not my style. It’s the sign of a near mental breakdown.


In an act of pure chivalry, he picked up the backpack and launched it into the living room, and he rolled Tyler’s chair closer to me.


“What else do you need?” he asked.


“I think that’s all.”


My poor, sweet, very tired husband knelt in front of me and said with great intensity, “I need you to stay with me. I can’t have you losing it when they are both already out of control. If you lose it in a moment like this, Tricia, I swear to you, I will get in the car and go somewhere. Please. Stay with me.”


I burst out laughing.


He was so right! I can’t lose it right now! What on earth would he do if I started bawling right along with the children? I can’t do that to him. I laughed and laughed, because that’s just what you do when you can only either laugh or cry. You make your choice, and you give in to it.


I said, “Fair enough. I’m here.”


And I was. And I will be.

The Art of Multi Tasking

* * * from the archives of Teaching Tuck and Ty * * *


You know who excels in the art of multitasking?

Starbucks employees.

They operate like a well-oiled machine back there… everybody does their thing. And always more than one thing.

I watched thed artful dance as I waited for my Grande-Raspberry-Mocha-No-Whip.

There is so much happening, and so much of it is verbal. The computer is the only one with documentation of what I ordered; the rest of the staff simply listens and responds. One friendly guy takes my order, spouts it off jovially to the girl across the way, who repeats it back to him in confirmation, even though she is making an entirely different drink for a very different person with very different specifications. Still. She finishes the task at hand (or the drink in hand), keeps in mind the one to come, and takes an order from the drive-thru on the side via the microphone in her ear.

She stays on top of it all. They all do. It’s a mystery how they don’t end up with extra drinks or not enough.

And then someone hands me my steamy favorite, complete with a handy-dandy coffee sleeve, and thanks me for ordering it. As if the making of my beverage was truly the highlight of the day.

Unbelievable. No wonder they are the rulers of the coffee empire.

It’s a job to sharpen the senses… I suspect that once one has masterfully worked at Starbucks, there is little one cannot manage.

Perhaps I should invite them to fix dinner at my house while the boys are melting down and daddy is arriving home and diapers need changed and the table needs set and the pot is boiling over and I just stepped on a matchbox car and who left it there anyway and my cell phone is ringing and the dog just snatched a dish towel and Tucker is helping himself to the ice dispenser and Tyler is climbing the shelves of the pantry and I can’t remember why the timer is beeping or maybe it’s the microwave or perhaps the cell phone again.

They would probably thank me. It would probably be the highlight of their day.