We are trying to help Thomas learn to count. So we count an amazing amount of things, how many colors he has, how many blocks he has, how many apple slices he has, and on and on and on. At one point though he would only say three numbers. I would start out Onnne... He would chime in Woooon. I would say Twooo... He would stay silent. I would say Threeee... He would smile and say Hureeee. (Three was his favorite number. And if all else failed, he would say three.) I would say Foooour... He would sit there. (Oh yeah, and he never said an even number. Just three odd ones.) I would say Fiiiiiive... He would parrot Fyv. I would go on with Ssssiiixxx, Ssseevvveen, Aaaaate, Nnniiiiinnnee, & Teeeeennn. Thomas would look at me as if I had started to speak Klingon, or at least French. So Tiff and I talked about how Thomas only knew three numbers right now, and we were happy that he at least put them in the correct order when he said them, even if he skipped a few.
One night it was late and Thomas had begun the ever so subtle way of saying he was tired by beginning to throw things. I asked him, "Do you wanna go night-night?"
"No," as he rubbed his eyes.
"I will make you a wager... If Daddy says a higher number than you, it is bed time. If you say a higher number, then it won't be bed time." He seemed to nod in agreement. If your 21 month old ever agrees to take a bet with you, be afraid. I was unaware of this, and thought I had used a calm enough voice to get him to agree with me. I thought for a split second and came up with Seven. The next number in the string of numbers he knows, but not one I had ever heard him say. So I utter, "Seven," and smile thinking I had outsmarted my son.
"Eight Nine," he chirps up, still looking down.
Tiff chuckles in the kitchen. "Did he just say Eight Nine," I ask with incredulity.
"I think so," she says with a smile obvious in her voice.
I have lost control of the slam dunk situation. "Seeeven," I say again, more questioning in my voice this time.
"Eight Nine," he says almost bored with the continuation of this game.
After a few moments of be acknowledging that I had been bested by my son (including kisses and smiles and hugs), I picked him up and put him to bed. The win still did not give me the rest he needed. I was both proud and amazed at my son. Had he hidden this knowledge from us? Had he learned it that day? Was it divine inspiration? I cannot say. He first went back to only knowing One, Three, & Five. Now he has added Two, but he does not like One at all anymore. And Eight & Nine... Right out.
But how many times have I played a similar game with people. Let me only count on what I know to be true. Let my beliefs and convictions be immutable, so that others must conform to them. If something falls outside of that, then something is wrong with them...
How many times have I gambled with God? God if I can do this, then I should not have to do that or the other.
Or how many times have I sold God short? God you really don't know what is going on, so I need to be in the lead on this one.
Amazingly I think God wins more of those bets than I do, and God knows a lot more than I want to give credit for.
But just as amazingly, God usually rebukes and teaches with a small voice, a smile, and a laugh. Even the small voice of a bored child, my own smile, and the laugh from an amazing wife.