When a Peanut turns into a person

This is my adorable child.

This is posed, but still cute, right?

She knows she’s adorable.  She’s well aware that she is hilarious most of the time.  She knows exactly what I mean when I start counting, but she still ignores me about half the time.  She is so much a tiny adult.  She holds regular sized pencils correctly, picks up cheerios one at a time, sits with her right leg crossed over the left at the ankle.  She is not a baby, anymore.

And I know all the precious moments we spend together really do make a difference.  The language that I use  and the way I speak to her affect her at a very basic level.  So, I know a stern soft voice is better than a loud voice, and the way I pat her gently to get her going in the right direction is better than shoving.  I see the way she gets our cat to move exactly the same way – a few soft pats and “Go, go, Roxy.”  She likes to line things up single file – including but not limited to her many different kinds of blocks and every shampoo and soap bottle in our bathroom.  She’s starting to dress herself, and actually gets her shoes on the right feet slightly more than 50% of the time. She reaches for things on higher shelves and she climbs on things to reach even higher shelves.  She likes to open and close drawers and cabinets.  She already loves the feeling of accomplishing even the smallest tasks on her own, and she would rather not have any help from me, thank you very much.

I seem to remember this time when she wanted my help, when she snuggled for more than 30 seconds, when she wasn’t a perpetual motion device for an hour before bed.  I do love this stage she’s in, all her energy and curiosity, and every new skill.  But I live for Peanut’s bedtime in a way I never could have imagined.   I also never could have imagined that nearly two years after her birth, I still live for every smile and giggle, I still want to cry when she cries (though I am much better at pretending to be tough), and I am still beyond stumped as to why my heart doesn’t literally explode in my chest with all the love I feel.

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Missing the point…

I will not be asking or even encouraging Peanut to memorize Bible verses. I think it’s like finding the funniest part of Sartre’s No Exit and calling it a comedy. It misses the point. The Bible is a BODY of LITERATURE, written by many different people, or if we’re honest, men, over thousands of years. Much of it was oral tradition for several generations before being written down. Much of it would be science fiction and fantasy at best if we didn’t call it “Holy.” It is our canon, our Christian Story, our Jewish heritage, and it IS special, but we don’t have to worship it as an idol.

The current Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church is fond of saying that science and religion are two different ways of knowing that can and do coexist rather nicely for her.  She was first an oceanographer – a scientist – before her time as a priest and then bishop.  She says science gives up the nuts and bolts of life and religion and faith give us the WHY.  You can hear two minutes of Katherine talking about science and religion HERE.  She also says that you can answer questions with one or the other, but using both gives you greater depth.

As I’m researching options for educating Peanut, I’m running into “young earth” “science,”  which is just theology wrapped in a pretty, science-y cover. I don’t understand the need for God to have made each living thing separately.  If I’m a Christian, and I am, I think a God who put a nifty mechanism in place to make that happen is a lot more creative and worthy of worship.

I don’t want a God who runs my life – who I turn to for finding my car keys, avoiding traffic, or punishing people who aren’t like me.  I want a God who treats me more like a college student – I can call home once a week or twice a month and bring my dirty laundry home when it overflows.  To depend on God as if God did not give me my own two legs, two arms, and a (sometimes really clever) brain is not an option to me.

I often think about what I should tell Peanut about things – spiritual things like sin, and everyday things like why chocolate is not a food group in our house (though we don’t judge folks for whom it is!). I like to think that what she thinks will matter more than my current opinion on the subject and that I will ask her what she thinks about sin and what she thinks of our life, and whatever she tells me, I hope I remind her that at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean we’re right or better, and her job as a Christian is to care about people and love them more than she thinks they deserve.  A long time ago, I asked a pastor-friend about how she knows what she’s doing is right, and she said her measurement was the ever widening circle of God’s love – from Jesus to his family and the disciples, to other Jews and then Gentiles and eventually to us.  That is a benchmark – THAT is the point, the one I hope we never miss.

Mom gets sick occasionally…

On Friday, Peanut had a snotty nose.  It doesn’t happen often, but it happened last year about this time, so, allergies.  Fine, I’ll wipe a snot nose and give her Claritin, and life will go on, right?  Wrong.  Peanut got a snotty nose, but I ended up with a head cold that made me feel like I’d been hit by a mack truck – runny nose, sinus headache, sneezing, the works. By Sunday I was laid out on the couch with my kleenex, gladly fulfilling my sweet toddler’s request for “Potter,”  making endless cups of hot tea, and guzzling Emergen-C.  We even missed church, which is not something that we do, basically, ever.  And I stooped to feeding her goldfish crackers and apples for most of the day.  (We did have chicken and broccoli for dinner, though.)

I guess I should have learned some kind of life lesson about how sometimes you can’t be a perfect mom, how sometimes vast amounts of screen time and goldfish crackers are how to keep your sanity, how getting sick is God’s way of telling me to slow down and enjoy my kid.

Mostly, I’m just thankful that I’m the one who got sick, because Peanut’s snot nose alone is so incredibly heartbreaking.  Her nose gets red and her eyes water, so she looks pitiful, even though she’s still bouncing off the walls.  Maybe I’m most thankful that on this day, it took too much energy to be even a little cross, being even a tiny bit unkind was impossible, and even when I was at my worst, maybe I was a better mom than usual.  Also, those goldfish crackers never tasted better!