Tonight as you were finishing your dinner and I was cleaning up you were looking at your favorite counting book. There’s a page with all these little equations, like “6 duckies + 4 duckies = 10 duckies.” You think all those little + signs are crosses, so you were saying “Cross, cross, cross” and pointing to each one. I caught the precious, quiet moment to come sit with you and talk, wanting to impress on you a better sense of what the cross expresses. Not that we don’t joy and delight in it as believers, but that only comes after the sorrow and pain. You were gripped by my story as I explained about the nails and the thorns and the evil soldiers and the crying, scared disciples, and the all-gone body.
It was an incredible moment, to get to tell that story in a way for you to comprehend. And then after getting to the part where Jesus saw his friends again and death was all-gone, we were done. The moment was over and you were “Ba-ba-ba-ing” on your cup and then our next conversation was about where your milk goes after it’s all done in your belly, something we’ve been talking a lot about lately. It was all just so fitting and beautiful: It’s impossible to deny the reality of your faith in Jesus, your investment in Jesus, your love for Jesus. But its measure is proportional to your measure, and nothing can be profound for long when you’re two.
It’s been a simple month, full of mornings at the pool, adventures on local trails, shared ice cream cones, and endless hours in the wide open space of the grassy park. We’ve eaten simple food and observed simple rituals. Baths have been fewer, bedtimes have been later, and there has been endless fun. Perfect summertime.
Your vocabulary is developing beautifully and you are starting to accurately pronounce two-syllable words like “digger” and “ducky,” though “ducky” is still duh-y” with a glottal stroke in the middle, which is adorable. You are stringing lots of words together and you are forever discussing “Mommy BooCar” and “Daddy WhiteCar” since apparently I own the van and Daddy owns the sports car. How astute you are, child.
You seem to be growing taller again and your feet are reaching the pedals of the little trike your friend handed down to you. Soon you will understand the concept of pedaling on your own. For now you mostly delight in parking that little trike by the bike rack along with all the other grown up bikes, and taking it out just to park it again. The other physical landmark is that you’re slowly learning to jump. Now you have the physical concept down and all that needs to catch up is your courage. You always chicken out at the last minute and try to hold on if you’re jumping from any height, which always sabotages the effort to launch both feet simultaneously. Also, you have a mighty over-arm throw, and you practice it constantly. “Wee-o ball” is a frequent game lately, where you take a soft little ball and chuck it endlessly at the smoke alarm in the hallway outside your room. Of course you never actually throw it that high, but you’ve got some real distance now.
You are still obsessed with water, whether it’s washing dishes, going to the pool, or touching whatever fountain or stream we pass. One day we walked a trail in town and by the time we got back to our car, parked by an overpass with a stream running underneath, Meredith was fast asleep in the stroller, so I helped you gingerly climb down the embankment of rocks to the edge of the creek, take off your socks and shoes, and dip your toes in. We sat there for 15 minutes throwing rocks into the water, and the next time we came to a similar place you started to take off your shoes without a thought.
Daddy and I are delighting in your enthusiasm as we worship together. On Sundays you are so eager, and every Saturday night we say “What day is it tomorrow? It’s Sunday! What do we do on Sundays?” And then you say “Worship Jesus!” with this big grin. You almost always tune in to the worship service when an “Amen” approaches and chime in with a very serious “Aman” of your own. And the other day when you were fidgeting off in your own world during the sermon and the pastor quoted the words of institution that you recognize during the Lord’s Supper, you perked right up and got excited.
In the mornings we still pray, ending with the Lord’s Prayer, after you get dressed. You say the ending word of each phrase now, and are filling more and more in quickly. Then after we finish you jump to get to Meredith and start humming the Doxology. You get really upset when she wants to squirm instead of standing there and singing with us. In the evenings we’ve augmented our devotional ritual by adding a Psalm before our other Scripture reading. We’re reading Psalm 23 every night now until we feel you know it by heart, and then we’ll move on to another short one we want you to memorize.
Psalm 23 came alive for you tonight after we met a for-real shepherd in the Kroger parking lot yesterday, sitting in his car babysitting his special pet black lamb, who he’s grooming to be his helper sheep. You were amazed at that little animal and its bleating and its soft, soft coat. We’ve been reading about a sheep’s coat often lately and how he got his hair cut to make a new suit for his boy, Pelle, in one of your favorite library books. It was amazing watching all those gears turning as you met that lamb yesterday.
Your favorite things lately are to count sets of objects or to identify them by color. You call out the color of passing cars often and the counting thing happened one day when we had no idea you had the capacity for it, but there they were, those words coming out of your mouth so clear and precise, though you almost always skip “Two.” I’m pretty sure you know up to 10 though I’ve only heard it once since something usually distracts you.
Your hardest moments are wrapped up in learning to love your sister, and we are all fighting hard to teach you, Daddy especially. I’ve been gone a lot lately, cleaning apartments for our landlord, and I’ve noticed that Daddy has a routine lately of requiring you to give up whatever toy you’d gotten angry over when Meredith had threatened your possession of it, in order to “practice being generous to your sister.” It delights my heart to think what a servant man you are going to grow to be with your Daddy to show you how. We’re also working on teaching you how to play with her gently, since she wants to be part of the scuffle all the time now, and how to come to Mommy or Daddy when you feel upset that she’s crying, how to run away if she tries to pull your hair, and how to leave the discipline issues to us. (Though I must admit the sound of you saying, “Noooooo, baby. Nooooo, baby,” is the cutest thing ever.)
Your happiest moments recently have been when you and Daddy get alone on our big bed after you’ve gotten your jammies on. You wrestle in the pillows like a pair of maniacs. Sometimes Daddy smothers you in the pillows, but usually the routine is to lay the pillows out to make a cushy pallet in the middle of the bed and then Daddy picks you up and throws you flat on your back onto the pillows. Those are the best laughs of all.
I love you, little man.