A Broad Range of Conversations


We had another of those What I Want to Be When I Grow Up conversations last week. Gregory has a good plan, “I know what I want to do when I grow up…” I waited for him to sort it out and tell me more. “The only problem is that I keep forgetting what it is. I know it’s a really good thing but I can never remember for more than a few days. The next time I think of it, I am going to write it down!” 


Rita confided to me that when she grows up and has children, she will spank them when they are naughty. I raised my eyebrows, a little surprised that this aspect of child rearing held such importance to her. “I will do it because I love them and don’t want them to be brats. And they will probably ask me if I am Amish. I will tell them, ‘No, but I have Amish blood. From my mom!'”


There are various projects going on currently in our immediate family. Gabe and his brother Thaddaeus are both building small barns and Grandpa is always making something. Olivia had an astute observation for us, “The thing about Peight men is they all like to dream.” I believe some would call it visionary, and she is right. They all do have that quality.


My teen friend from the Old-order Mennonite community was telling me about their disappointment in the lack of serious winter weather. “I don’t care about snow,” she explained, “so long as it chust gives ice for hockey.”


Recently I did some babysitting for a friend. It was breakfast time and the children were hungry. “My mama makes the best pancakes!” the little girl said. I told her we were having eggs, which she thought was a good idea, with just a small variation. “Sometimes my mama makes eggs and pancakes! She makes the best pancakes!” I grinned and asked if she is disappointed about not having pancakes. “Oh no!” she hastened to say, “this is fine.” I poured water into cups for each child. “My mama sometimes gives us milk to drink,” she said politely. “And she makes the best pancakes.” I think I need to ask my friend for her recipe. 🙂


The original idea for Gabe’s week of vacation from work was to travel somewhere where the sun actually shines. (Here? It has been grey for about 93% of the days this winter, with only occasional patches of brilliance. We have had lots of warm days, though, even balmy, so I cannot complain, even though the children pray daily for snow and ice.) But then we thought about spending two of those vacation days traveling, and we came up with a different plan. Something about driving long distances with children just changes one’s perspective on travel.

Have you ever tried winter camping? We haven’t either, but we hope to. In a state park’s log cabin, with heat, with a kitchen, with bunks. Just one small thing: without a bathroom. This is just a minor glitch, no problem. But January. Little girls who need to go potty in the night. I envisioned us bundling up in coats in the pitch darkness, making sure anybody who remotely may need the facilities wakes up to trek along a flashlighted path through the bushes to the toilets. I actually lost a little sleep, thinking about solving this problem. A little research brought up lots of ideas, the most portable being a luggable loo seat that snaps onto a standard 5 gallon bucket. I ordered it from wonderful Amazon at 3AM on Friday morning.

When Gabe got up, I did that thing I do sometimes, assuming that he knows the whole backstory in my head. I started telling him how I ordered a luggable loo seat because there is no way I want to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night. He looked at me in shocked disbelief. “Hon, it’s all of ten feet from the bed to the bathroom.” After my own shock wore off, I understood that he thought I was planning to install it in our bedroom at home.

Communication. It’s pretty important, folks. Also listening. Context helps, too.

And, just for funny:


Here’s my personal challenge for this week: Put down your phone. Look at people when they talk to you. Really hear the words your children say. Write it down if it is delightful or wise. And don’t forget to actually visit. It wouldn’t hurt to make great pancakes some morning, too.

7 thoughts on “A Broad Range of Conversations

  1. Luggable loo. So funny. That sounds like me, worrying through an obscure problem in the night…my best inspiration and snazzy solutions always come when I’m in bed. Sometimes they make sense the next morning, sometimes they don’t.

  2. Funny kids. And their parents.

    I have an extensive and growing list of fun, funny and brilliant things I learn from my girlies. 👏🏽😂👧🏼👶🏼

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