Thursday, June 5, 2008

Good Night and Sweet Dreams

My family usually call it a day when most people are just starting their evenings. I would really hate to be in the shoes of the mommy whose kids are up and about, jumping and bouncing, talking and shrieking at the ungawdly hour of 10pm. For C and me, the hours after 830 during weeknights are very precious. We use it to connect with each other as a couple. It's our time! And yes, we are very possessive about it.

A usual weekday bedtime routine for my family would have C reading the NightLight Devotional Book with the kids, followed by our night prayer, and then hugs and kisses for each other. We try to take turns to be prayer leaders, to encourage the kids to be an active participant in the process. But after reading this post, I am sure you will agree that prayer time would look a lot less like squabbling and more like praying if C just leads.

Our prayer session tonight went something like this:

B: Family, are you ready to pray? (And she waits for all of us to answer, "Yes, we are"). Everybody put your hands together... I said please put your hands together.... that includes you, mom. Dear God, we thank you for our wonderful parents. We thank you for our food, our wonderful house, for achi and syoti, for ah-ma, for angkong, for uncle tony, akoh sherry, baby sasha, for cathy, henny, sage, maya, clauie, wowo, wowa, charmaine, uncle jay, for uncle tony (again!). We also thank you for our study table, our toys, our bed, our aircon ( she looks around the room, like taking an inventory of everything, and give thanks - for practically everything.)

By this time, R starts to get antsy or bored and opts to start his own prayer. And C is the third voice that joins in asking for an atmosphere of reverence. So at this point in our prayer time, it is like listening to a radio that's on the wrong frequency. You hear different voices making everything incomprehensible, not unlike the annoying radio static.

Undeterred, B continues her non stop talking, oops, praying, till R realizes that it's no point competing with someone who is the resident chatter queen, and finally gives up).

B: We pray that you help us to be kind, wonderful (apparently, wonderful is her favorite adjective for the moment), and let us have good manners. For syoti, we pray that he stops being makulit, and please don't let him be funny, and teach him to have good manners, (and again, for emphasis, just in case God didn't hear her the first time) please don't let him be funny and stop him from being makulit. For achi, we pray that her feet stops growing too fast. (Ok, now we really know that this is a major concern). Please help me to be wonderful. Please protect our family from bad persons, bad classmates, bad teachers. Protect us from fire, earthquake, and accidents..... (Long pause as she thinks of more things to pray for.)

J: B, say Amen. If you can't think of anything else to say, please end your prayer and say Amen! Stop pausing already! You're taking too long!!!
B: I'm not yet done. I'm just resting. Can you please wait?

This is where we step in to tell J to give B time to finish her prayer.

B: Lord please give us good dreams and to wake up tomorrow feeling refreshed. We ask you to please heal wowo Mon in Singapore; please heal ah-ma's ears, please take away the ouchie in her ears; please help mommy's throat to get better because if she has sore throat she is cranky to everybody. Long pause again... till finally she decides to conclude her prayer and proceeds to say amen - to everyone's relief!

As soon as she says Amen, J start her lecture once again, "Next time if you don't know what to say, you can just end it and say, Amen. That's what I do when I don't know what to say next."

B, still adamant, "but I am not done yet, I was just resting."

J ends the conversation by rolling her eyes, "Hainaku! I am going to go crazy!"

And if it is J's turn to be in charge, like it was yesterday, the opposite of the above discussion happens:

J: Dear God, we thank you for daddy, mommy, B and R. We thank you for giving us our family. We pray that you always keep us safe from harm, accidents, and bad people. In Jesus name we pray, amen.

B: Why is it so short? You forgot to thank God about.......

But we should really just let C do it most of the time, and just take their prayer requests. Because, really, sometimes B makes night-time prayer seem like an hour long service. :)