Bibs, “Bubbles!” and The Woman with One Eye

March 8th, 2009

Ever since I heard this great talk about righteous family traditions during General Conference last year, I’ve given a lot of thought to the kinds of traditions we want in our family and then tried to start them.

For example, one thing that’s been swimming around in my brain for a while is community service.

I’d love for us and our children to be actively involved in serving those around us.

So then I racked my brain and tried to think of a way for a pregnant mommy and a sweet little one-year-old to start doing that.

And then I started noticing things…..

Like the elderly man at Costco who lit up like the noonday sun when he saw the Bubbers king sitting in my cart.

And our elderly friend from church who never stopped smiling at Bubbers when she spent the afternoon with us.

After that, I realized the Bubbers king would be a great volunteer at a local assisted living facility (i.e., nursing home).

So, I took us in and signed us up.

And now we go in once a week to walk around the facility and eat lunch with the residents.

And after lunch, I walk the Bubbers king around to every table to say, “Hi” and give high fives to every resident.

And so far, the Bubbers king has been so great and patient and eagerly shares his contagious sunshine with them all.

But I have to say.

I was not prepared for what happened this last week…..

—–

Bibs and “Bubbles!”

When Bubbers and I first sat down at our table this week, I noticed that the two elderly women sitting across from us were wearing large cloth bibs.

Uh oh, I thought to myself.

And sure enough, no sooner had I noticed it then the Bubbers king noticed it, too.

“Huh?” he said with interest and pointed across the table.

Then he looked at me and waited for an explanation.

Because typically, I answer his questions with a full explanation and then we discuss it back and forth for at least five minutes.

And if we were alone, I would have said, “Yes, they’re wearing bibs to protect their clothes just like you.  Because when we get older, sometimes we have a hard time doing things like feeding ourselves.”

But we weren’t alone.

And there was no way I wanted those women to hear me comparing their bibs to his bib.

So I just smiled at him briefly and then pulled out a bag of popcorn.

And prayed he wouldn’t say the word, “Bibs!” next.

Fortunately, he let it pass and I sighed a breath of relief.

Until later on…..

When I was happily munching on my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and trying to feed Bubbers his sandwich.

All of a sudden one of the elderly women sitting across the table from us started blowing her nose into her napkin.

I didn’t pay it much mind, but the Bubbers king immediately looked up.

He watched her for a moment, then pointed right at her and said in his sweet, loud voice, “Bubbles!!

The woman froze mid-blow and stared at him.

Bubbles!” he repeated, still pointing at her and then looked at me.

Slowly, her confused stare also moved to me.

And my mind went blank.

What do I say?? I thought with panic.

“Ha, ha!  We don’t like the word ‘boogers’, so we call them ‘bubbles’ because that’s what they are when Bubbers is sick.  So he’s pointing out the fact that you’re blowing your boogers and waiting for me to validate his observation.”

Somehow, that explanation didn’t sound right.

And yet, I always knew this day would come.

But I never thought it would come so soon.

And I was nowhere near ready to confront it.

So I didn’t say anything.

But she just kept staring at me.

So I needed to say something.

And finally I attempted a smile and mumbled something like, “That’s what we call them,” without explaining what “them” was and then buried my head in my lunch bag.

—–

The Woman with One Eye

Thankfully, the rest of our lunch went smoothly and then it was time to make our rounds through the dining room to greet each resident.

The Bubbers king smiled, said, “Hi”, gave high fives and tried to play with their walkers.

And one sweet woman held his little hand and said with tears in her eyes, “God bless you.”

Then she took a little container of grape jelly off the table and handed it to him, saying, “Give this to your mother.”

So he did and I thanked her with a big smile and touched heart.

Then we moved on to the other residents.

As we neared the entrance, Bubbers tried to run to it, but I veered him toward the last table where the women were trying to catch his eye.

“We have one more table,” I said, “Let’s go say hi.”

Bubbers turned to the table and waved up at a woman sitting there.

I glanced at her and realized there was something wrong with one of her eyes.

The eyelid was closed and didn’t move.

As soon as I realized this, I prayed that Bubbers wouldn’t notice it.

But I was too late.

“Huh?” Bubbers said loudly and bent down to look her in the face better.

He stared up at her and then pointed at her eye, “Huh?” he repeated again.

My mind went blank.

Fortunately, the woman’s mind was not blank.

“I only have one eye,” the woman explained without hesitation.

Bubbers listened intently and then looked back and forth between her good eye and the closed lid over an empty socket.

“One eye?” he slowly repeated back to her.

My mind was still blank.

Then all of a sudden, Bubbers turned to another woman at the table and peered intently at her face.

He pointed to each of her eyes and said, “One… two!”

The woman nodded and said, “Yes, I have two eyes, but they’re not very good.”

Then Bubbers turned back to the other woman, pointed and said, “One!”

“Yes, I only have one eye,” she said with a smile.

My mind was even more blank.

Incredibly, Bubbers had just started counting things in the last week.

Just in time for us to come and count eyes.

Back and forth he went, “One, two!…. One!….  One, two!…. One!”

And the ladies just smiled and nodded, “That’s right, that’s right!”

And I just smiled painfully because I didn’t know what else to do.

Then finally, Bubbers had explored this new realm of “one eyeness” to meet his needs.

And he suddenly waved goodbye and bolted for the entrance.

Relieved, I said, “Goodbye,” and followed him.

Intensely grateful for their sweet understanding.

And wondering how on earth to cure a blank mind.

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12 Comments

Jesse | 3/9/2009 6:55 am

That is a great service idea! And don’t bother trying to cure the ‘blank mind.’ With an observant, outgoing and talkative little guy like Bubbers it will only get worse.

A few weeks ago we were at the local Y with Cori’s scout troop. Grace and I were changing in the ladies locker room when two plus sized ladies came in and started changing. “That’s incredible Mom. They are so big!” They couldn’t see us, but they could hear us. I knew she didn’t mean anything derogatory by it, but it is something you just don’t say, you know? I felt like trying to correct her on the spot would only add insult to injury. So I said, “Yep, Heavenly Father makes us all look different so we can be special. Some of us have blond hair. Some of us have green eyes. Some are tall, or short…” Then we had a long talk about manners in the car later. Sheesh.

A great thing about older folks is that they are very at ease with themselves. I can’t wait to be old in this way. I have found that most will gladly talk (in great detail) about any infirmity or malformation. No need to feel that bibs or eyes are the elephant in the room.

Heidi | 3/9/2009 9:03 pm

Oh man, that made me laugh! What a cutie! It sounds like you handled it perfectly, though.

 
 
Kara | 3/9/2009 7:41 am

Isn’t children’s hosnesty wonderful? It’s nice that the one-eyed woman was understanding of his curiosity.

 
charlotte | 3/9/2009 7:52 am

What a sweet thing to do! I love that you guys do this. I’m sure even Bubber’s innocent faux pax bring a smile to their faces. It sounds like you are doing the best thing you can do in the situation! And trust me… you’re going to get lots of practice, lol!

Heidi | 3/9/2009 8:58 pm

LOL! That’s what I’m afraid of… :):)

 
 
Cara | 3/9/2009 8:25 am

I tell my kids that while it’s always okay to ask questions, sometimes our questions might hurt someone’s feelings. So if they have a question about a stranger they need to wait and ask me when we’re alone. If they forget, I just calmly and quietly say, “Remember, it’s not polite to talk about people. We’ll talk about it when we get back to the car.” It always seems to difuse the situation. :)

I think it’s so wonderful that you’re doing this! What a great way to teach kids about selfless service.

 
Melissa | 3/9/2009 3:16 pm

What a wonderful idea for service, Heidi! I’m sure your visits mean so much to the people that you see. You are such a great mother to be thinking of involving your kids in service so early! :)

And I wouldn’t worry too much – it sounds like you handled each situation perfectly. And who could possibly ever be offended by Bubbers??

Oh! I just thought of the perfect quote – I think it fits the service you and Bubbers are giving to a “T”:

“Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” – James M. Barrie (author of Peter Pan)

Heidi | 3/9/2009 9:02 pm

Oh, what a fantastic quote–thank you, Melissa!

And thank you for thinking the Little Man couldn’t offend people! I have to admit, as much as I had NO IDEA what to say, I still thought he was really cute counting eyes and just being himself and I laugh every time I remember it. :):)

 
 
Wandering Nana-Linda | 3/9/2009 5:28 pm

Children are so sweet and innocent that it is nice when an adult knows that and isn’t offended. When I worked with Young Women in a ward in Utah we decided to go to a rest home and help them celebrate Halloween. It was amazing to watch the youth interact with the residents. We decorated their dinning room and their tables. The girls dressed in costume and when the next year rolled around they wanted to do it again. It’s very lonely when you don’t have family around.

 
Heidi | 3/10/2009 9:15 pm

Heidi that was a great story. Thanks for sharing it.

 
tearese | 3/15/2009 4:49 pm

That is a great idea, when I was a kid I found Nursing Homes kind of creepy, but my great grandma was in a home for five years when I was older, and we visited her regularly. It was obvious the other residents appreciated our visits as well.
Joshua always counts before he throws a ball..he usually only gets to two, but sometimes three. Thats nice that the ladies weren’t offended.

 
angelalois | 3/31/2009 1:27 pm

You know, I’ve been thinking for awhile now that I’d like to do this as well. Somehow I’ve also been blessed with the smiliest happiest little baby boy and I know he’d be smiley and happy for anyone. He just loves people!!! I think I’ll be bugging you for details. Yay for our little men!

 

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