Monday, September 16, 2013

Train... Biig Truck

We live in a blue collar town.  I drive over at least two sets of train tracks on the way to day care.  I drive by two huge grain silos, and too many trucking parking lots to count.  Most of the time, we go early enough that we see two or three 18 wheelers, and if I have my way, we do not get stopped by any trains.  They both represent things that are good in my life, but slow my day down a few extra minutes.  Minutes I could use to drink some coffee or check Facebook.  Thomas however sees these marvels of engineering as a delight to his soul.  I guess most kids his age do, but I cannot comment on their reactions.

Most mornings my son is pretty laid back.  We wake him up, get him dressed, put him in the car, and he is at day care in time for breakfast.  But then some mornings my son drives me crazy some mornings.  One morning in particular he was in a foul mood.  It was like someone had swapped my son with the Bizarro version of him.  He flipped and flopped trying to change his diaper.  He did not want to get dressed.  He tried to stay home.  (Maybe it was just a teenage version of him somehow trapped in his body.)  Once in the car, I turned on music to see if that would help.  It did very little.  Then we got stopped by a train.  Another few minutes trapped with my anti-son, and a few minutes late.

Thomas then noticed the train.  "Train...  Train.  Train!  Train!!!"  His voice audibly becoming happier with each exclamation.  The train passed and we were on our way again.  I learned a bit though, and as we passed the first lot, I pointed a few things out.  "Big Truck! Big Truck! Biig Truuck!!"  He was in pure bliss.  It was incredible.  I think we saw two or three trains, and almost 20 18 wheelers.  By the time we got to day care, he was all smiles and dancing to meet his teacher.

The small parts of life.  The parts that most of us see as annoyances.  Those are also the same things that with the right vision become the joy bringers, the toys, the angels.  When we see them with the eyes of a wonder-filled child the world becomes something more than it was before.  How else do you explain boxes becoming trains, or pillows becoming forts.  There is magic in the world than we could explain, and a lot more when a child sees it.  There is no doubt why Jesus tells us to let the children come to him.  If you want to overturn the way people view the world, start with the people that view the world differently.  If you want to explain how to love your enemy, call the people that have not yet learned to hate.  If you want to teach the world that rocks and trees can sing, dance with the people that can hear their song.  I do not know if I have heard a rock sing, but one morning I know big machines showed me that my son has the eyes of God.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

No no no

Right now "no" is Thomas' favorite word.  It is his automated response to any number of verbal stimuli.
"Do you want to eat an apple?"
"Do you want to go to bed?"
"Do you need to go potty?"
"Do you want to go to the park?"
Any of these, and plenty more, if you ask him he may not even consider the question, he may only answer "no."  He may take a nano-moment and still answer "no."  If he is in a funny mood, he may smile a bit and then answer "no."  That last one is about as close to a "yes" as we get most of the time.  But any of the "no"s he gives actually gives no indication of what he wants.  It is just a response.

OK, I know he knows the difference between "yes" & "no."  "Do you want to watch Bubble Guppies?"  is always answered with a "yes."  I do not know what kind of enchantment BG has on my son, but it is strong...

But since he just responds, one of our (my) favorite games with him is when I am holding him and I am lying down, I will hold him at arms length above my body and ask, "Does Thomas love Daddy?"
He will shake his head, and grin just a bit and say "no."
"Yes he does," I reply as I lower him down and kiss him once or twice.  It is then back up in the air.  "Does Daddy love Thomas?"
A bigger smile crosses his face, "no."
"Daddy does love Thomas, and I will show you," as I lower him down and cover him in kisses, and light scratches from my beard til he giggles and smiles.  Then back in the air.  "Does Thomas love Daddy?"
"No," he says almost giddy and with a smile.
"Yes he does."  I lower him again and kiss him a few times on his neck and maybe give him a zerbert. He is laughing now in my arms.  I hoist him up one last time.  "Does Daddy love Thomas?"
"No," he laughs.  His body tensing waiting for the barrage of tickles and kisses that will make my son go into hysterics.  It is my Dad given right and responsibility to do just that.  So down he comes, and we end up laughing together once it is all done.

If he knew more fully what I was asking, and if he thought before he answered, this little game of ours (mine) would not be possible.  I would simply ask "Do you love me?" and Thomas would answer (hopefully) honestly "Yes."  And if I asked him "Do I love you?" he would answer the same way.  I say hopefully since I hope my love for him is apparent, that he knows without question.  But the way that happens is I have to show him.  Day in and day out, I have to make a vague concept like love concrete for my son.  I have to not only give it lip service but show him again and again.  If I stop, then it becomes possible for him to wonder if my love has ceased or if my love was never strong to begin with.  And if I only show him one way, then it might be seen as love of the game, or love of reading or love of something and not love of him.  So the ways I show love have to grow and change so they keep up with him, and hopefully keep ahead of him... loving him in ways he does not know he needs yet.

As people of faith, do we love our neighbors?  Most of us would say "yes."  We would Love for them to come to worship.  We would Love for them to find us welcoming.  We would Love for them to join our church.  We would Love for them to do the work and find us compatible.  We would Love for them to find our ad/sign/website and think that looks like a great date church to go to.  But this is not love.  This is member lust envy.

Love is going out of our way to show people that we care.  Love is meeting them when they do not have the vocabulary to say "yes I know you love me," and showering them with hugs and kisses.  Love is seeing the need they have and the need they do not see, and finding ways to help them thru both.  Love is being a father to someone you just met, and crying for the father they never knew.  Love is much harder than we want it to be.