It's been quite awhile since all nine of the grandkids have spent the night. With the eldest in college and most of the others involved in sports, musicals, and the lives of their friends, we are usually missing one or two at least for the evening, and often for the entire weekend. Tonight, all were present and accounted for, with the addition of the Bailey girls' friend Nicole.
I'm an introvert, and need alone time to keep my spiritual and emotional batteries charged. Except on Friday nights. Fridays are our opportunity to build into their lives as they build into ours. Starting with Linda's mac and cheese with hot dogs, peas, homemade apple sauce, and cottage cheese, and ending with the older ones watching Monk in the back room, it's been a good night, replete with games of dominoes and checkers, none of which matters to anyone except us.
The littlest one, Gemma, apparently wasn't feeling her best. She was tired, and after a single dominoes game (which she loves), she was ready for bed. Mattie went upstairs with her and read her a story, which helps Mattie too, since reading is not always an enjoyable pastime for her. A bit later, I went upstairs to check on Gemma, and found her lying quietly, but not sleeping. Laying down next to her, we talked. Conversation with a five-year-old is a delightful experience, one that everyone should occasionally have. I asked if she wanted me to stay with her, to which she responded affirmatively. Shortly after, she was asleep, and I got downstairs just in time to join in nighttime prayers with the rest of them.
In just one week, our next president will be sworn into office. If he keeps even a few of his campaign promises, we will experience some sweeping changes over the next four years. The opposition will continue to vilify him, and perhaps some of his supporters, if he doesn't come across with his pledge to 'drain the swamp.' Life will go on. The kids sprawled out in beds, on couches and air mattresses will be the beneficiaries of these changes, for better or worse. I can't do much to affect the larger policies that will shape much of the context of their lives. But we can shape their souls so they can respond instead of react to those policies, with integrity, courage, and faith. That's what we're trying to do, so we build, week after week, prayer after prayer, doing what we can to give them the tools they'll need to engage life with its pitfalls, pain, and disappointments, as well as its triumphs and joys. That's why this introvert doesn't like to miss these Friday nights. They will end soon enough, but till they do, I am grateful for every minute we are given with them.