Hello Dear Reader!
Now that our children are grown and my husband and I moved from Wisconsin to enjoy the warmth of Mesquite, I have time to resume writing a weekly column–this being the first! I look forward to getting to know the wonderful people in this Virgin River area—and will be looking to you, the readers, for some great story ideas of interesting people, places, and events to tie into my column!
In the meantime, I’ll be drawing content from some stories I’ve published in the past, with a few adaptations to fit the current times. This week, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I’d like to suggest we all take time to appreciate the many talents our partners bring to the relationship. And those strengths frequently are quite different from one’s own strengths. Learning to love not only our partner, but their unique differences, helps build a strong relationship. Following is just one example of this, written when my now-grown “kids” were three:
“Don’t load the glasses on the bottom of the dishwasher.” I’d hear myself saying to my husband. Or, “You forgot the fabric softener.” Foolish me. That’s just a surefire way of discouraging future help. Over the years of marriage, you’d think I’d learn to bite my tongue and appreciate help in whatever form it is offered. Different is not always wrong; just different.
One night I was exceptionally tired. My level of fatigue was surpassed, however, by the energy level of my toddlers, 3-year-old triplets, who shared a room at the time. This particular night—many years ago, but as vivid as if it were yesterday— they were exceptionally rambunctious. Getting them tucked in was like corralling grasshoppers. I tried to cut the bedtime ritual short so I could have a few moments of “me time,” and get to bed myself.
“Mommy! You didn’t tell us a story!” Every night, until they were seven or so, I would tell my kids a made-up-on-the-spot story after prayers. It might be a story about one of their stuffed animals, like Bunny Bing’s Busy Day. Or Leah Ladybug Looks for a Lily. Although not masterfully crafted, my kidlets, two boys and a girl, always delighted in the stories I’d make up on the spot.
But that night I was beyond tired. I was to-the-bone-can-hardly-walk-exhausted. Yet, how could I deny my sweet cherubs their nightly bedtime story?
“Well, I didn’t tell you a story because tonight, for special, DADDY is going to tell the story!” I announced.
“Yay! Daddy!” they cheered, bouncing and clapping gleefully.
I dragged my weary self downstairs to the kitchen, where my husband was working at his desk. “Honey, tonight you need to tell the kids a story.”
Dave rose and headed for the kids’ bookshelf in the family room.
“No, they want you to make up a story.” Dave looked at me dubiously. “Go on,” I urged. “You can do it.”
Dave groaned, “Why can’t I just read a book?”
“Because you’re creating a precious memory.” I yawned. “Go on. Just make up something.”
So up the stairs he went. And I plunked down at the breakfast bar and turned on the baby monitor as water heated in the microwave for my tea. I wanted to hear this.
“Okay, guys,” I heard over the scratchy monitor. “I get to tell the story tonight!” Three high-pitched voices cheered.
“So…” Dave clapped his hands. “Here’s the deal…”
“No, Daddy!” Sarah Jean interrupted. (My daughter has always been the one to want things done right.) “That’s not the way Mommy does it. You hafta say, ‘Once upon a time...’”
“Well, that’s a fine story-starter for Mommy, but my stories start with, ‘So, here’s the deal.’”
I chuckled. I couldn’t wait to hear the rest of Daddy’s story.
“So, here’s the deal” Dave repeated, again clapping his hands. “Ahem… Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed; a poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed. And then one day he was shootin’ at some food, and up from the ground came a-bubblin’ crude! Oil that is! Black gold—Texas tea!”
I laughed, picturing the children lying wordlessly in their little toddler beds. Six blue eyes blinking wide in bewilderment, no doubt.
“Well, the first thing you know, ol’ Jed’s a millionaire,” Dave droned on. “The kinfolk said, ‘Jed, move away from there!’ They said ‘Californey is the place ya oughta be,’ So they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly. Hills that is. The end.”
I heard him kiss each child: “Goodnight.” Smooch. “Goodnight.” Smooch. “Goodnight.” Smooch. “I love you. Now go to sleep.”
Dave returned to the kitchen with a satisfied grin.
I greeted him with an admiring hug. “I enjoyed your story over the monitor.” I smiled. “I think you should tell the story tomorrow night, too!”
“Okay,” Dave shrugged. “I’m up for it. It’s a story ’bout a man named Brady….”
If you want your relationship to last, find ways to laugh–especially about your healthy differences. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Today’s column is adapted from a previous original story. Cheryl Kirking ©2014
Slice of Life will be featured weekly.