All Packed and Ready to Go!
Carol eases open the front door to her granddaughter's house, and then pokes her head through the space just enough to breathe in the citrusy smells from the morning orange juice.
She smiles, her eyes searching the room. "Anyone want to go to Mimi's house today?" she calls.
There is a crash of what sounds like building blocks tumbling to the floor and then a high–pitched, giggly voice responds, "Me!" A slapping of bare feet against the hardwood floor follows the answer. "Me! I want to go!"
Carol shuts the door behind her and bends over, extending her arms wide open towards her granddaughter. "Who's me?" she asks playfully.
"Charlotte!" shouts the three–year–old. "Charlotte wants to go to Mimi's house," she squeals as she slams into Carol's arms, almost toppling them both to the floor.
Carol kisses the top of Charlotte's head and squeezes her closer, sniffing the lavender scent of shampoo from last night's bath. She straightens and folds the tiny hand inside hers. "Well, let's go."
A frozen look crosses the elfin face as she hesitates. Carol visualizes the child's churning mind. Charlotte holds up one finger. "Just a minute, Mimi. I need to get a few things." Then off she races with the same enthusiasm she'd used when greeting her grandmother.
As Carol talks with her daughter–in–law, she hears the huffing and puffing of Charlotte packing her "stuff."
"Ready," announces Charlotte as she strolls into the kitchen. She pulls behind her a small princess suitcase on wheels, its sides bulging with the things she wants to take with her, the things she thinks she can't leave behind.
As is their usual routine, Carol stoops over and asks, "What's in there?"
Charlotte unzips the suitcase and together she and her granddaughter go through the contents in the bag. Carol removes two miniature princess figurines, a pink stuffed bear, several plastic building blocks, a puzzle, and a book. Charlotte has also included a nightgown, hairbrush, bows, toothpaste, and her toothbrush. To that she has added several articles of clothing.
"My, my," Carol exclaims and then she smiles and nods her approval. Each week when she visits, the bag is crammed with an assortment of items Charlotte feels are must–haves. "Looks like you've thought of everything," says Carol.
Charlotte shakes her head "no." "Not everything," she corrects. She trots over to the pantry and pulls out a small bottle of water and a snack–size packet of pretzels. "Now I'm ready."
Charlotte kisses her mommy good–bye before placing her hand into her grandmother's outstretched hand, and side–by–side they walk to the car. Carol loads the suitcase in the trunk, where it will remain until they return tomorrow. Then she places her hands under Charlotte's arms and tries to lift her into her car seat.
Charlotte squirms. "I can do it myself," she protests. "I'm a big girl now."
It takes the three–year–old a while, with a couple of slips in the process, but eventually she makes her way into the car seat. She smiles up; a small scrape on her cheek is turning pink from one of the missteps. Then she says, "Now I'm all ready."
Carol buckles her into the car seat, tugging on the straps to make sure they are secure before she climbs into the driver's seat to begin their two–hour drive to her house.
Both Carol and Charlotte love their once–a–week sleepover. Charlotte begins calling early in the morning of the day Carol picks her up, eager to begin the visit as soon as possible. Yet, when Carol arrives, it sometimes takes thirty minutes for Charlotte to prepare for the trip while she packs things she thinks she can't survive without. In reality, she never unpacks any of the things because Carol has everything Charlotte will need, waiting at her house, in the room she has prepared especially for Charlotte. She knows her granddaughter so well and so anticipates her arrival that she has fulfilled all her desires in advance, even adding things Charlotte never thought to ask for. But Charlotte, Carol supposes, feels better bringing her suitcase when it only delays the time they will spend together, and weigh her down as she climbs into the awaiting car.
Within fifteen minutes, Charlotte has finished the snack Carol had prepared for her: chocolate milk and graham crackers, her favorite snack, sitting on the seat beside the car seat inside a cooler in a princess Sippy glass and matching princess snack cup. Charlotte's chattering slows, soon coming to a complete halt. Carol looks in the rearview mirror and sees Charlotte's head lolling to one side, her eyes closed in peaceful slumber until they reach their final destination.
Carol smiles as she thinks of the time wasted packing up all those things. Instead of delaying their fun, they could have set out immediately and without cumbersome luggage. She settles into the drive and asks God for a safe drive home. She laughs softly as she wonders if God is as amused at her unnecessary actions as she is at Charlotte's. Doesn't she herself spend her days spending time accumulating and gathering "stuff" she thinks is indispensable? Rather, shouldn't she be enjoying what God has planned for her that day, week, month… He knows her heart and her inner most desires, as He knows all his children's hearts and desires, even before they crystallize in their own minds.
Again Carol smiles, but at herself, not at Charlotte, as she recalls John 14:2:
My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you.