I love how fascinated the children are by the pieces of the nativity scene as we nightly read our way through the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. They can’t wait to unwrap each piece, the child whose duty this is feeling specially privileged and the other wiggling in barely-bearable impatience and checking repeatedly if it will be her turn again tomorrow. Yes, it will. We stand the piece of the day in the front of the others and leave it there while we read and pray. There it is, helping make that connection between miraculous truth and the concrete world of a young child’s mind. At least that was what Mommy envisioned. But we’ve hit a snag.
Our Harriet is just three this Christmas and finding it a massive challenge to leave the pieces in place and listen to the reading. Her little starfish hands keep reaching out and touching them, adjusting them and placing them carefully in a new arrangement. Night by night she can’t let them go and clamber up on the couch until they are just the way she wants, in a circle. It’s not the same way Mommy wants–the piece of the day isn’t front and center. It’s not the way her sister wants, either. Norah is a very tidy little body and wants each piece placed where it properly belongs in the scene. “That’s enough, now” and “Sit down, Harriet” preface our readings each evening. (And, if I’m being honest, “Harriet! Sit down right now or you are going straight to bed” does sometimes, too.)
We’ve left our playmobil(e) in Delaware and arrived at Nana’s house for Christmas, so we’ve adopted her manger scene for the remaining days. Because the pieces aren’t wrapped, we’re just highlighting a different one each night. It hasn’t affected Harriet’s fascination: night by night she has continued making her adjustments before she will listen to the story. In fact, since we’ve switched scenes, she seems to take even longer.
I’m neither patient nor perceptive. It took me until last night to realize what she’s been doing. She was meddling as usual and so I said, “Sit down, Harriet! It’s time to start right now!” And then she said, as she settled wise men and animals, “He need to be in da middle.”
Yes, dear girl, he does. Tonight we’ll sit still and let Harriet put things where they belong.
Is He in the middle?