The Penny Episode

pennies

 “Your world’s not falling apart,

it’s falling into place.”

This line from the Casting Crowns’ song, “Just Be Held,” keeps running through my mind, teasing up memories of the many, many times that I have felt as if I was in a free fall towards disaster…

Imagine a sick child, an overly helpful sibling, a box full of rolled pennies, and a bank full of people…

As a young mom, I saved up pennies to pay for a rocking horse for my daughter. The pennies are carefully rolled up in red paper tubes (before the days of change sorters) and placed in a box for delivery to the bank. My six-year-old son, two-year-old daughter and I are returning home from a doctor’s appointment. The daughter has an ear infection, and I should know that stopping at the bank to deposit the box of pennies is a bad idea. Deep inside of me, I do know this, yet I convinced myself that a quick stop will be okay. (Mistake #1)

I unbuckle the toddler and open the car door for my son. He wants to carry the box of pennies into the bank. It is heavy, but I have my hands full with his slightly feverish, much in need of a nap sibling, so I hand over the stash of pennies to his willing hands. (Mistake #2)

When we reach the corner of the bank, the two-year-old decides that she will only enter through the restricted employee entrance, not the public one. A tantrum of epic proportions ensues. She turns beet-red, the tears begin to flow, legs kick, and arms flail. Still, I press on. (Mistake #3)

We enter the small lobby where the sound of her sorrow bounces off every wall. Patrons in line turn to stare, their lips tightening in disapproval or pain, I’m not sure which. I take the young one into the bathroom to beg her to calm down, leaving the son outside the door with the pennies. (Mistake #4)

As I exit the bathroom with the hiccupping, sweaty baby on my hip, I see that my son has moved beside one of the poles onto which a velvet rope is clipped. You know the kind that bank officials use to establish nice, orderly lines when they have a crowd. There he stands, my handsome first-born, with the box of pennies precariously balanced on the top of the post and he is keeping it there WITH HIS CHIN. Look, mom, no hands!!! (Mistake #…oh, who’s counting anymore?)

“Handsome” beams as his sister and I approach; his broad grin causes a shift in his face. I don’t even get the “don’t do that” words out of my mouth before thirty plus rolls of pennies are deposited onto the floor of the lobby. Fragile red paper wrappers explode on impact and pennies go everywhere, and I do mean everywhere! On top of it all, Brother’s chin hits the top of the pole when the box falls and now he is crying.

Have you ever really studied a Norman Rockwell painting? They typically feature an everyday event, with a twist. As I stoop down to begin gathering the pennies, I think, “This would make a great Norman Rockwell painting… Young mom, on all fours surrounded by a sea of bank customer legs, scooping up pennies with one hand as she struggles to hold the ankle of her curly-headed two-year-old who is doing a masterful marine belly crawl towards the door she never wanted to enter in the first place, young brother on edge of scene holding chin as tears streak down his rosy red cheeks.”

Not one bank customer or employee offers to help. I don’t blame them. I think they might be a little afraid of the tearful toddler, the sobbing son, and the mortified mother. The story doesn’t even conclude here but continues in the parking lot with another spill from the box.

That day, we were left with a lot of loose pennies and our sense of humor. Laugh is what we did as we settled into the car and drove home. We have and will continue to have challenging days, months, and even years. Sometimes, all we can do is laugh at the circumstances of life and pray that things will get better as our world is “falling into place.”

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27 (NIV)

Take heart!

6 responses to “The Penny Episode

  1. I remember those days! They seemed so hard at the time, and honestly they were. Looking back on those situations, it is good to laugh. To find humor in the things we thought would destroy us at the time. Now I watch as my daughter goes through much of the same with hers….ahhhh….the memories!

    Liked by 1 person

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