The Crystal Goblet and the Sippy Cup

               











When my kids invite their friends over to play, a colorful array of sippy cups (for I have many) adorns the kitchen table at snacktime.  I know the cup can withstand an army of little, sticky fingers reaching and grabbing for it.  It enjoys being part of the crowd.
My crystal goblet is hardly ever used at all.   It sits, most of the time, untouched in the back corner of a cabinet filled with wedding treasures.  It has a fine, thin stem leading to a beautifully hand-crafted body and everything about it looks delicate and costly.  When on a special and rare occasion, I do take it out and place it on the table with my fine china and silver, it shines with pride, content to be in its rightful place.  Lifting the goblet carefully to my lips, I delight in the taste of the wine it contains. 
To be sure, I must be vigilant not to drop this goblet, for it would shatter into hundreds of pieces.  Even after the dinner is over, how carefully I wash it.  One quick move or unconscious click against another dish would spell disaster.  But I appreciate the goblet for the precise and regal role it plays in the extraordinary moments of my life.
I have two little boys in my house.  One is a sippy cup and the other a crystal goblet.  They are  both treasures beyond worth to me, but how I must handle them differently! 
My sippy cup kid is effervescent energy from the moment his rosy red cheeks greet me in my pre-dawn stupor until I tuck his untamed little round body into bed at night.
He charms all ages and knows how to get the response he wants as his big, blue eyes peer up at me from under unkempt, blond locks.  Friends and strangers alike cannot resist the urge to pinch his over-sized cheeks.   Eager to be a part of every activity, he dusts the kitchen with flour as we bake a cake together.  His laughter and love of life are the music of our household, with his theme song being, "I can do it all by myself!"  He is rough and tough, taking many a tumble without a single tear in the eye.  He will swallow even the most awful tasting medicine without a word, and will endure a hard pop on his little bottom without a flinch.
My crystal goblet child is bright and sensitive.  He is shy, and hides in a corner when guests come.  To look someone in the eye is a chore.  He at times seems out of place among the other children because he gets hurt so easily.  A bumped knee brings big tears, a bloody mouth, high pitched screams.  But by far it is the bruised ego, the fragile feelings, that are hurt most often.
His whole inner make-up is delicate, from his ears to his intestines and especially his soul.  Each new endeavor is wrought with worry.  "I can't" he cries in frustration, because he will do something not just well, but perfect or not at all.
At times I tire of handling him so carefully, wondering why one wrong word will break him into a thousand pieces.  But when he feels secure and understood, he shines like the goblet on a well set table.  And from his small lips and large eyes flow knowledge past his years: a gentle phrase, a profound observation, a deep, passionate joy.
There was no instruction book that came with my sippy cup or my crystal goblet.  Common sense helped me figure out the obvious use for each one.  I have never once poured milk into the goblet or set my sippy cup on a table shining with china and silver.  Therefore, I can't recall ever being disappointed with either container.
No instruction book came with my boys either.  Common sense helped a lot, but sometimes it got pushed to the side as I expected my sippy cup kid to teach me profound truths like his brother.  Or I wanted my crystal goblet child to be as tough as his sibling.  And I grew disappointed with my boys.
Fortunately, I did have an instruction book for "life in general" and in it I found one gleaming verse that set me straight about my kids:  "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6).  I once heard a well-known pastor preach on that verse.  What he said made sense.  The original meaning of the verse indicates that it is the parent's responsibility to discover the talents, traits and "bents" of each of his children and train them up in this way.
Some things will of course be the same.  Both a goblet and a cup must be washed with soap after each use.  Both hold liquid and both are put to the mouth, not the ear.  But what goes inside the drinking instrument and how it is handled, ah there's the difference.
So I observe my kids.  They're growing up in the same home with the same rules and the same love.  But I'm learning how to encourage each one in "the way he should go".  I'm wrestling with one and writing poetry with the other.  I'm savoring the sippy cup kid's sloppy kisses, and I'm lingering over a rich, delicious phrase from the crystal goblet child.   I'd be hard pressed to tell you which one I appreciate more.  They have both filled me with joy and my cup (or is it my goblet?) overflows.

Elizabeth Goldsmith Musser, c1994

    I have two favorite drinking containers in my house.  One is a crystal goblet and the other a sippy cup.  The goblet is fragile, delicate, capable of holding fine, rich wine, but always in danger of being broken.  The sippy cup is made of bright, durable plastic and comes equipped with a lid that fits tightly on top, allowing a child to "sip" without spilling.
    Now if someone asked me which one I valued more, I would be hard put to respond.  They each have an important role to play in my house. 
    The sippy cup is used daily, over and over again by my children.  It slips out of the hands of a child quite often, bouncing on the floor, undaunted.  I take it on picnics where it can hold juice, milk, cola or coffee.  I have washed the cup hundreds of times, but I am never afraid of breaking it and its bright color has only faded a little throughout the years.