My wife and I have minions.
You've seen minions if you've ever watched one of the Despicable Me movies. Our minions aren't amorphous yellow blobs wearing blue overalls and glasses, but they are cute, wonderful little people who often speak in incomprehensible babbles, provide a steady stream of slapstick comedy, brighten our days, put smiles on our faces, and ultimately enrich our lives.
At some point the older kids seem to graduate from being minions to being apprentices, or something like that. We have three who seem to fit this description. But with the arrival of our newest addition, our minion count is still at four. Here is a sample of some of the smiles they have recently provided:
Example 1: Seven-year-old Andrew recently came home from school, and was shocked and appalled to find out that his younger sisters had finished the leftover bag of Cheetos while he was away at school all day long. His righteous indignation flared as he petitioned my good wife: "This is why I want to be home schooled!" Point taken.
Example 2: We wanted to make five-year-old Charity's first day of kindergarten extra special so that she would head out the door with a smile on her face. We let her sleep in longer than normal, then my wife asked her what she would like for a special breakfast, suggesting waffles, pancakes, or cheesy eggs. Charity's response? "I would like a piece of bread with butter and a glass of water. With a pink flower in a vase. On a silver platter." Request granted.
Example 3: We spent much of our ten-day vacation at the beach trying to convince three-year-old Summer to "go potty in the water." This is because walking back to the beach house across the hot sand is not only a big bother, but once at the house, she must be stripped down and hosed off before entering to avoid making a grand mess with all the sand that accumulates in her swimsuit. So we put a lot of effort and emphasis on wading into the big, scary ocean far enough to cover her legs and letting go in the cold water. She put in a valiant effort, but as far as we know, never succeeded the whole time we were there.
Well, on the way back we stayed overnight at a hotel, and took a swim in the pool. As I was shepherding the kids out of the water to return to our room, I heard Summer saying over and over again "It was amazing! It was amazing!" I asked her what was amazing, and she said, "Daddy, I went potty in the water! It was amazing!" Yup. Amazing.
Example 4: In our church, most fathers of families hold the priesthood, so we can administer blessings and other sacraments and ordinances to our family members. It's really a wonderful part of the gospel--the privilege of using God's authority to bless those we love the most is distributed far and wide among church members.
Today in church I had the privilege of giving a name and a blessing to our newest daughter Lily. I tried to prepare for the experience, and petitioned the Lord that Lily, despite being a mere infant, would sense something special about the day. Well, when the time came, all went well, and Lily seemed very happy. As I held her in my lap after the blessing, cushioning her head so that we were looking directly at each other, she stared with bright eyes and a smile up into my face. A congregational hymn began, and as I sang, I continued looking at her. She maintained eye contact, and with a joyful, but earnest look on her face, joined in the song with a steady stream of loud cooing for as long as the hymn lasted.
Together Lily and I sang: "For Jesus died on Calvary that all through Him might ransomed be. Then sing Hosanna's to his name; let heaven and earth his love proclaim." In some ways, interacting with her in such a personal way, in such a special setting, felt just as sacred as the blessing ordinance we had shared prior to the hymn. Once again, Lily utterly, completely melted my heart.
So you see, just like the minions in Despicable Me, what started out in our family as a kind of cute
sideshow to the plot ends up stealing all the attention and becoming the main
attraction. And like the script writers, who gave the minions an even more prominent role in the second movie, I now realize that's just how it should be.