The Dipstick Method

A mom will do just about anything for her children, even against all odds.  It’s ingrained in them, part of their natural instinct.  There are many things that a mom does that a dad just can’t quite do the same no matter how hard he tries.  Many times moms will do things for their kids when Dad is just not around or just too busy.  One of the things that Katrina likes to do with our kids is to take them fishing.

A little over a week ago, Katrina caught the fishing fever.  I think I got most of that fever out of my system when I was a kid.  My dad took me fishing many-a-time, and my Uncle Harold did as well.  I also remember an older gentleman that lived down the road when I was growing up, Mr. Troy Mackey, who took me fishing a time or two as well.  Mr. Mackey would pick me up in his old pickup and we would drive a good ways up the road to a pond he knew about and bring back a huge mess of perch we had caught.

I reckon the reason I remember my trips with Mr. Mackey so well was because my mom would get the worst end of the deal.  She would sure enough get the “mess” of perch.  After our trip to the pond, Mr. Mackey would drop me back off at home, and I would clean fish all afternoon as the flies circled my head and our large burn barrel where I cleaned the fish.  Waiting in the kitchen was Mom, ready and willing to cook for dinner whatever I happened to bring in, perch and all.

Anyway, back to Katrina’s fishing expedition.  While I was at work, Katrina loaded our five youngest children, lawn chairs, a picnic lunch, and all of the fishing gear in the van and headed for Jack Nolen Lake.  Equipped with a bucket of worms that our son Bradley had dug up, she set the kids all in a row in lawn chairs at the water’s edge and gave them a good time of fishing.  They didn’t have much luck at catching anything, but they sure had a good time doing it.

One of the highlights of the trip for the kids was when they met up with a nice lady that was also out at the lake fishing that day.  Holly told the story best over dinner that evening as I listened intently to what I had missed.  According to Holly, the lady had apparently had a better day of fishing than they had.  When Katrina and the kids stopped by the lady to talk for a moment, she gladly showed the kids her 5-gallon bucket of water which contained some good sized fish that she had caught, and Holly said, “She even let us pet her catfish, Daddy!”

Mommies also have more of a natural ability for healing than a dad has.  This has probably happened to me a thousand times.  One of the kids will have had a bike wreck or some other mishap and come running in the house screaming at the top of their lungs.  As I bend down attempting to console them, they just brush past me like I’m a stranger.  I get that look from them that says “Who do you think you are?” Then, their screams for Mommy break into a fever pitch as they blow by me like a tornado.

Diaper sense is something that I don’t believe the Good Lord gave to dads, but moms sure do have it.  My nose usually works pretty well, and with each of our children I have had the keen ability to notice when they were passing through the room as babies and had unloaded their most recent meal.  It usually doesn’t take reaching my nose, because two or three of the other kids will have already announced that someone stinks.  Many times though, it is not so apparent.  That’s where Mom comes in.

For me, I’m pretty satisfied with the smell check and the visual check when investigating diaper ripeness.  Someone evil invented outfits which snap between a baby’s legs that completely cut off all access to the baby’s diaper.  This makes it very difficult for me to check the baby’s diaper, especially in the back at the waistline where I am apt to look for extra baggage.  No problem for Katrina.  If I’ve seen it once I’ve seen this scene a hundred times.  Here’s how it goes:

Katrina:  “Did you check Olivia’s diaper?”

David:  “I tried, but I can’t quite tell if she is dirty or not.  I don’t smell anything.”

Katrina:  “You must not have checked her right.  Let me see.”

Katrina then takes Olivia from me as if my competence level were zero.  Without skipping a beat, she finds the nearest place to pull the diaper elastic out as if peaking inside the wrapping paper on a present.  Then, she inserts her forefinger up to at least the second knuckle, withdraws it, and declares, “Yep, she’s ok.”  I then look at her dumbfounded and ask, “How can you tell?” to which she replies to my utter stupidity, “You can just feel it.”  I reckon the other times in which the dipstick doesn’t come out so clean is when she can sure enough feel it.

For Mother’s Day our pastor gave our kids the jump start last week during his sermon, giving the proclamation for everyone to be sure to take care of their mothers.  Our daughter Hannah was listening intently in church that day a week ago and took it to heart.  As soon as we got home, she went outside, gathered up a handful of flowers, and placed them in a glass of water.  She then put them in a concealed location in the laundry room and was ready for Mother’s Day a week early.  Later on, she also helped her little brother Joshua gather a glassful as well.  Hannah was as proud as a peach that she had everything ready a week early.

Yesterday, when it was time for the kids and I to make our trek to the store to get Mommy some good stuff for Mother’s Day, Hannah said she didn’t need to go because she already had her gift ready.  So the rest of the kids and I headed off to the store without her.  As the kids were gathering up a little something for Mommy, I couldn’t help but think that Hannah may be disappointed if she did not have a gift to give like everyone else, so I picked her up a package of Katrina’s favorite M&Ms for her to give to Mommy.  We arrived back home with the loot for Mommy, and Bradley and I got busy wrapping the few items that we had gotten.

One of the wonderful things that my mother taught me growing up was to save the comics page from the newspaper and use them for wrapping paper, and I was happy to find a pile of those that we had accumulated over the years.  I randomly picked out one of the many comic pages and flipped through to find a good page to wrap Hannah’s M&Ms with.  To my surprise, I was blessed with a page from The Family Circus, one in which the kids had written “Happy Mother’s Day” all over the refrigerator.  Somehow I think that God was smiling down on me when I found that perfect piece of wrapping paper that had been stuffed under one of our beds for years.

The kids and I gathered all of the presents for Mommy and placed them in a neat pile beside the stairs, ready to share them with her today.  As Katrina discovered the pile of gifts this morning, she made a big show of it and said, “Oh, my goodness.  Look at all these gifts!”

Eating his breakfast in the next room, Joshua, our 4-year-old son, overheard the word gifts and said, “Is it Cwismis?”

Well, we didn’t have “Cwismis” today, but we did have a wonderful day of celebrating Mommy and what a joy she is to all of us.  Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy!

Written by David Steen, with God smiling, May 9, 2010

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