Sometimes, the only dose of medicine that makes any sense at all is time spent in the innocence of a child’s playroom kitchen.
Last night, our little hometown rolled up the sidewalks early and pretty much the entire community headed to Findlay to watch our boys continue their march toward a state football championship.
After a long, tough, sad week of listening to the unfolding story of a missing family near Mount Vernon’s beautiful Apple Valley, my heart was heavy. The four missing had been found — the 13-year-old girl alive, bound and gagged in a man’s basement, the others found dead in a hollowed-out tree — and the horror of it left us all reeling. So, when I said yes to baby-sitting while friends took their older two children along to the football game, I knew ahead of time that it was going to be a good time, just the kind of evening I was in need of enjoying.
Kennedy is the most adorable little girl, having just turned 3 last month. Her smile could light up the planet, if only we could find a way to capture the energy of it.
We went to her little kitchen, and the fun began.
Kennedy fixed me a “just pretend” cup of coffee, and I took a tiny sip and said, “Oh, no! It’s too hot!”
I began blowing on the little cup, and Kennedy smiled, patted my leg and said, “Now, just right!”
She hurried back to her kitchen, came to me with the first course of dinner, “hot dog in a bun,” she said, and waited to see if I was going to play along.
I took a big imaginary bite and said, “Yum! Do you have any ketchup?”
Kennedy wasted no time, bringing a tiny bottle over, adding the invisible ketchup for me, saying, “that’s ketchup,” and watching for my reaction.
“Mmmm — that is the best ketchup I have ever tasted!” I exclaimed.
Kennedy’s bright blue eyes lit up as she smiled from ear to ear, then hurried to fix me french fries.
After a real supper of ravioli and cooked carrots, bath time was taken in the biggest swimming pool EVER, according to this little 3-year-old. Toy fishies joined in on the bath tub fun. Kennedy told me with sincere sweetness, “fishies won’t hurt you,” so I told her I wouldn’t worry.
Then it was time for dress-up and pretend shopping with a mixture of toy money and real coins.
When I pretended to want a pretty dress, but didn’t have enough money, she said, “Oh, it’s OK — we can get more from my Daddy.”
It seemed there were absolutely no problems that Kennedy’s daddy could not solve.
All too soon it was time to get Kennedy in to her pink pajamas, brush her hair and brush her teeth. After a story or two, it suddenly occurred to Kennedy that she needed a drink of milk in the worst way, so we had to brush her teeth a second time.
She remembered that she needed to tell me something, and she needed me to help her fold up some blankets in her room. She asked me if I was sure that the clock said it was time for her to go to bed, and when I assured her that it was, she didn’t fuss one bit.
She wanted the toy kitty I had given her long ago that she sleeps with every night, “my Judie kitty,” she calls it, the realization of which melts my heart.
I grew up in this community, looking up to Kennedy’s grandparents, Don and Candy Fickes, who I respected and adored. I watched Kennedy’s father and uncles grow in to respected young men. It has been a privilege to be a part of the lives of their little ones from the day each was born.
Later, looking in on this sleeping sweetheart, I found myself praying for every child to be so loved, so sweetly innocent, so beloved that each is held close within a cocoon of endearment, deemed precious by a solid family as well as a caring community.
That is much to be thankful for, and much to wish for in this world.