It seems like Facebook would be empty these days without posts of people having taken a quiz to find out more about themselves, and encouraging all their friends to do the same. I could discover which Disney Princess I am; which Game of Thrones character I am; what my very-watered-down Meyers-Briggs personality type might be; which Lord of the Rings character I’m most like; what color my aura probably is… you get the picture. And I, like most people, can’t always resist. I do sometimes take the quizzes. They’re a fun diversion, and I get a chuckle out of their way of rightly – and wrongly – identifying general characteristics that I probably exhibit.
Today I clicked “take the quiz” on a posted box that promised to tell me how many children I ought to have. This was interesting, especially in light of a conversation our family had had earlier today, about family size, adoption, foster care, and that sort of thing. I took the quiz, and thought for sure the result would be that I should have 12 children or so – the way the questions and multiple-choice answers were worded left me mostly no choice except to select the one that was most in favor of multiple children and organized chaos in the household. Imagine my surprise when my result popped up: “Two. Your child needs a sibling and you can handle another. Probably.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with having two children. I have two children. There’s nothing wrong with having no children. There’s nothing wrong with having ten children. I was surprised at my result because I had been making assumptions as I went along, figuring that based on this set of data the only possible outcome would be to send me the inhabitants of an entire orphanage. Well, who can believe those Facebook quiz results anyway?
I regularly educate or otherwise nurture droves of children belonging to other people, and I love it. I embrace everyone from the Kindergarteners and preschoolers we’re doing music, dance and art with this month at Lexington Hearing and Speech Center, to the 30+ high school dancers I help teach that hosted a beautiful English Country Dance ball last night, to the 16 young adults I teach in the Berea College Country Dancers, to the 30 children at church who successfully led two worship services this morning in our “Come as a Child” Sunday, and more. Alfredo and I regularly end up with “random” young people in our home, either just for a good meal or for a couple of weeks while they’re between lodgings. Sometimes we’ve been an extra family for longer periods, like a summer or a semester, when a college student has needed a different environment. No, dear Facebook Quiz, there’s no “probably” about it. We handle more than two children all the time.
When our girls were babies we were fortunate to become friends with a family who allowed their teenage daughter to stay with us one summer as a live-in babysitter. One of the traditions she started with us then, which we still hold on to today, is to pause in a moment of frustration and say, “children are a blessing from the Lord!” The verse is from Psalm 127, and saying it at a time of frustration helps us remember that we are to see all children as gifts from God. Because they are.
This evening when Lydia and Isabel came home from hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa all afternoon and found me in my bed with a cough and serious sniffles that even Nyquil wasn’t cutting, they sprang into action: Lydia put the kettle on while Isabel got out some throat comfort tea bags and set them up in the tea thermos. Soon they were snuggled up next to me, putting a steaming mug of tea in my hand. Isabel gave me a head massage and stroked my hands. Lydia rubbed my shoulders and neck. They were peaceful and kind to each other, being sure that they didn’t create any disturbance that I would have to deal with. They made sure I ate supper, and they went to bed without a fuss. What a blessing!
Even tomorrow, when I wake those same girls up and encourage them to get ready for whatever our day will hold; even when they grumble and want to stay in bed; even when they aren’t terribly excited about doing their math assignments; even… yes, even when they argue, they are a blessing. They are God’s way of making me a better person. They are God’s way of making our family the kind of group other people want to be a part of. They are their ancestors’ investment in a better world. Yes, indeed, they are a blessing.
And so are all those other “children” who cross our threshold, no matter how temporary their stay.