Boomer is our puppy. Well, more specifically, my son's puppy. OK...even more specifically - he is a stuffed animal puppy. He's pretty cute, spotted brown with floppy ears; he's a typical toy dog and he has captivated my little guy's heart - well, as much as a stuffed puppy should.
My son has been telling me for the last several days that it is almost Boomer's birthday. To which I have smiled and nodded, "MmmHmmm...that's nice, darling..." then continued on with whatever task I was engaged in at that moment. I mean, really, how enthusiastic can one get over a pretend birthday for a pretend puppy?!
But a couple hours ago it occurred to me that this was really meaningful to my son. He knows it is not REALLY Boomer's birthday, but he is having so much fun imagining all the excitement and anticipation of celebrating with his toy. Yet I had not yet stopped to really acknowledge his enthusiasm...let alone join him in it.
As we tucked our oldest kids into bed tonight, my son excitedly crawled under his covers and announced [for like the fifteenth time today...] that tomorrow was Boomer's birthday. Right as I could feel my internal eyes rolling in irritation over this repeated announcement and my inner self yawning with calloused uninterest in it, I felt the Lord urging me to care about Boomer's birthday.
I mean, aren't there bigger issues to pour out my thoughts and attention on? The dinner dishes are yet to be washed, I have two laundry baskets full of clothes that need to be folded. Not to mention, big things [...like my husband working long and hard toward landing a job in a new career...like world news headlines of unrest and violence in the middle east...like stories of realities men, women and children face each day in distant places - realities I cannot even begin to fully grasp - and asking hard questions, like "why"...these sorts of "big issues"] seem to demand my attention and thoughts. How can I possibly endure playing along with my five-year-old's puppy party, when I really have other things I need to take care of - things that are, uh...real.
No sooner did these thoughts flutter through my heart and mind then HE gently put them to rest.
My participation was not about celebrating Boomer; it was about joining my son and enjoying the thing he enjoyed alongside him. Stepping down from the busy concerns of my adult world to give attention to something that was meaningful and important to him...and thereby expressing to him that he is important to me. I have been neglecting to respond to him the way he's been begging me to all day...with a reciprocated excitement about this event that he was so delighted by.
So, after a moment or two of sulking in remorse over what a lame mom I am, God gave me the brilliant idea to throw Boomer a surprise party.
I found a couple greeting cards and my husband and I both wrote little notes to Boomer inside one card. We were intentional about directing our messages to Boomer, but indicating our love for our son through them. I included sentiments such as, "I'm so glad that _____ has such a wonderful puppy to play with!" - and so on. Then I found a puppy sticker and taped it to the card, so Boomer would be able to stick it to something.
The second card was from Boomer's best friends, a pink and white puppy named Buster and the newest member of the club, Jackson [he was a Christmas present]. Buster and Jackson left a message inside the card and beside their names, each one signed with a paw print.
My MIL had a small packaged Hostess-type cake, which she gave to me for the occasion and I topped it with colorful sprinkles and a candle, placed it on a plate and then into the oven in my children's play kitchen.
On our kitchen table I arranged a group of animals my children play with most, along with a note that says:
"SURPRISE!! Happy Birthday Boomer! All your friends came to celebrate with you!"
And beneath that another note that explains the other items on the table [more on those in a minute] and directs Boomer to look inside the play kitchen oven for another surprise [his cake]. Buster and Jackson are sitting off to the side, holding their card, which also contains a small gift inside. And in the center of the table are four helium balloons, leftover from a visit from my parents several weeks ago. [I tell you what, helium balloons are a BIG hit with kiddos...and these have lasted for weeks!]
Also on the table are various items; I selected several books to read [PB Bear's Birthday and a book about pets], a puzzle [a giant "Pets" floor puzzle by Melissa & Doug], a game [Turtle Picnic - love that game], a movie [Clifford's Best Friends], and a stack of birthday and party related coloring pages I tore from a coloring book [along with a box of crayons]. These are all activities my kids can do on their own [with the rest of the party guests, aka their stuffed animals]...so my son will be able to participate in throwing the party for Boomer too.
And guess what? I had fun doing it! I enjoyed the divergence from those heavy and daunting concerns and tasks...which, by the way, will always be there - you can't just check them off a list, they don't ever really go away. I was giddy as I thought about how surprised and thrilled my son will be when he wakes up tomorrow and finds the surprise party for Boomer. And I was humbled to consider how often God stoops down to care about the insignificant things I get excited or anxious about. Sure, there are much bigger issues in the world for Him to give His attention to...but He takes time to acknowledge me. He hears me when I pray. He cares about my son...and cared enough to cause me to pause and consider his imaginative play and his perspective. He asked me to take time to prepare a celebration and set up a party for a stuffed animal: because He wants my son to know he is loved.
This humbles me greatly.
I so often overlook those opportunities that appear insignificant; and all the while valuable moments pass by and I invest in something less worthy. O for eyes to see His view when I look at my children, and others around me.
Is there someone you need to pause a moment [and maybe even be a little bit silly] to love today?