The Wind Chime of God

Do you know the book Bagels for Benny (by Aubrey Davis, illustrated by Dušan Petričič, Kids Can Press, 2003)? It’s really great. Benny helps out in his grandfather’s bakery; the grandfather tells Benny that his customers shouldn’t really thank him for his bagels, but instead should thank God, since God made the wheat from which they’re made; to thank God, Benny starts taking bagels and secretly putting them in the ark at their synagogue every week, where they promptly disappear (Benny and his grandfather eventually discover that a homeless man has been eating them; it’s the mitzvah of anonymously helping someone get back on his or her feet).

When the grandfather discovers what Benny’s been up to, they have this conversation:

“What are you doing?” Grandpa bellowed.
Benny spun around.
“Grandpa!” he gasped. “I’m thanking God.”
“You’re putting bagels in God’s Holy Ark!” cried Grandpa.
“But he likes the bagels,” insisted Benny. “Every week He eats them all.”
“Oh, Benny!” Grandpa laughed. “God doesn’t need to eat. He doesn’t have a mouth or a stomach. He doesn’t even have a body.”

The last time I read the book to Toby, when we got to this line, Toby said, “God does have a mouth!”

I told Toby (and I’m paraphrasing myself here), “No, he doesn’t—God isn’t a person. God is—well, the idea of God means different things to different people. He’s—”

Toby interrupted me. “He’s a monster,” he said. “He’s a kangaroo. He’s a blanket. He’s a yogurt. He’s a crown.”

I quickly jotted those things down. Then I asked Toby what else God was. “He’s a wind chime,” he said. “He’s a giraffe. He’s a cup of tea.”

All of which, I believe, is—from many, although not all, theological vantage points—entirely correct.

Mama’s New Old Mandolin

Emily bought a mandolin on eBay from a guy out on the west coast; it just arrived in the mail last week.

I keep hearing Matty Charles lyrics (from “An Old Mandolin,” the last track on the great Lovers in Arms):

There’s a young boy with an old mandolin
Playing down by the river, as they push me back in:
‘Will the circle be unbroken, by and by, Lord, by and by?’
My eyes were wide open, as I looked at the sky

It’s a haunting song, and a great record, which you should buy, if you don’t own it already.

I Know Exactly What He Means

(Week-of-unrelated-quotes catch-up post, five of five.)

A conversation from three weeks ago:

Toby: I’m gonna go to the city.
Tom: What are you going to do there?
Toby: I’m gonna just work.
Tom: What kind of work?
Toby: I’m gonna climb on some work that is in a giant pile.

The Man in the Moon Needs a Dentist

(Week-of-unrelated-quotes catch-up post, one of five.)

A conversation from three moons ago:

Toby: Where’s the moon?
Tom: It’s not out. Sometimes it’s out, sometimes it’s not out.
Toby: Yeah?
Tom: Yeah. Sometimes it’s full, sometimes it’s new; sometimes it’s waxing, sometimes it’s waning.
Toby: And sometimes it’s encrusted with teeth.

Happy Happy!

(Singing and dancing catch-up post, two of three.)

From this past weekend; we’d spent a number of hours in the car listening to Shirei Gan Shalom: Songs in the Garden, by Melita Doostan & Octopretzel. (Such a great album!) The record was the December mailing from the PJ Library for kids ages two to three. (Such a wonderful program!)

Somewhere on the album, Doostan sings “Happy Birthday” in Hebrew. (For the life of me I can’t find it in online track listings.) I have no Hebrew, but I do know the word “sameach.” As does Toby now!

“Happy Sameach”! Surely one of the nicest things you could wish anyone.

Old MacDonald’s Artisanal Plate Concern

A snippet of a conversation from this past Saturday morning, 4 December 2010:

Toby: On this farm he had a spoop.
Tom: What’s a spoop?
Toby: It’s for making plates.
Tom: Oh. (Pause.) Do we have one?
Toby: Yeah. It’s in the pock.
Tom: Really? Where’s our pock?
Toby: Over there. (Points at front hallway.)

The one thing that troubled me about this exchange was the word “pock.” Toby has a classmate at day care who appears to be a kind of two-year-old bad seed with a potty mouth. He calls other kids “stupid,” but he also calls them “stukid”—in other words, he seems to have learned very early on the sophomoric dodge of changing a consonant or vowel of a bad word, thus rendering it technically not a bad word. (What kind of parent raises a toddler to verbally abuse other toddlers? Some of these kids can’t even talk yet. Does bullying really start this early? Are democracy and civilization doomed?) So Emily and I are a little worried that “pock” is a word that’s come home from day care—a word learned from a bad kid who intended it to be a stand-in for something else.

I’m glad to learn that we have a spoop, though. Plate-making might be just the sideline business we’ve been looking for.

Here, Outside!

(Awesome new Flip videos post, three of three.)

From this past Sunday, first thing in the morning.

The tomato slices in the bowl, in case this isn’t clear, are wooden play tomato slices (from the Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Box).

As I wrote before, the offerings to Outside seem to me to be a kind of spontaneous animism. Which, to me, is just absolutely beautiful and profound.

I’d thought I’d have more to say about that, but I don’t; I just wish we’d caught on video the previous offering, where Toby was reaching into the air, plucking imaginary lettuce, and then offering that to Outside. (You can kind of see the beginnings of this in the video I posted two days ago, at about the 20-second mark.) His hand wasn’t palm out and grasping, but rather palm facing in, palm flat, fingers together, as if he was—well, I don’t know quite what to compare it to; as if he was sliding an envelope out from behind a framed painting, hung high on a wall, where he’d hidden it?

Maybe it’s best that we didn’t get this on video.