Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Reward (09/27/04)
TITLE: This is a Reward? You Bet!
By Glenda Lagerstedt
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My reward for making this trip is not a paycheck even though that is a welcome part of the benefits package offered.
I play…um, I mean work… in the infant room of the childcare center on the ground floor.
Just getting in can be a challenge. Wobbly short people gather at the door and grin a welcome, blissfully innocent of the concept that their bodies must move before the door can be opened. Sometimes it can take the assistance of helpful (though amused) staff to gain access to the reward room.
Once inside, the rewards begin in earnest. I lay on the floor and balance one of my wobbly buddies on my tummy. He decides to stand up. Not many of my friends can get away with stomping on my chest and drooling but this one can! Strange how such a socially awkward situation can feel like a reward, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Turns at the changing table are a given; of course. “Is she just wet?” asks the Keeper of the Charts, pen poised in midair above the cherub’s daily sheet. “Not exactly,” I reply dryly as I begin a cleaning process from the neck down. This is a reward? Well, it is when the tiny culprit smiles and gurgles and sparkles like she has just given her caregiver a wonderful gift and she is ever so pleased with herself.
Not all diaper changes are created equal. Tinier innocents are easy; they lay still, the job is soon done. But in time they grow bigger and become more interested in room activities than in basic hygiene. ‘Who cares about the mobile or the music any more? Who listens to the nice lady or takes comfort in the distractions she offers? Toss the book; toss the rattle…the farther the better. Twist. Turn. Sit up, roll over, wear ‘em out.’ (I am sure this is what they are counseling each other when we think they are saying ‘Mama,’ ‘Dada,’ or ‘up’.) The reward here? Hey, this has got to use calories and firm up muscles, right? I’m going for well-sculptured biceps.
Tummy-aches happen. Soothing words, a dozen different positions, hum a tune, and walk the floor. Rock and rock and rock some more. (Hey, sounds like I have done this so many times that I have become poetic about it.) Suddenly there is a burp too big to have come out of that tiny body. A reward for the caregiver and for baby, too!
Way too soon I will be old. (The uneducated might claim I am already old.) All that aside, though…. If my Lord doesn’t choose to keep my body strong and able, it is my prayer that I can still be well enough to rock babies. I joke to friends that if my health fails, instead of going into a nursing home I want to be shipped to Romania so I can live out my time rocking them in one of those orphanages I’ve read about. That probably won’t happen. But I will consider it a great reward if I can rock some babies somewhere… right up till the time I leave for my Final Reward.