A good little boy

I haven’t written anything pointedly about parenting experiences in a while; I’ve only referred in passing to events with our little boy Jedd.  So, where to pick up?

There are so many things:

  • holiday travel (airplanes, cousins, and grandparents—oh, my!)
  • new words and expressions (koala and armadillo; family snuggle; love you, Dad)
  • singing (“that’s … El–mo’s … world!!”—you should hear how high he can sing)
  • two poopy diapers within the first 30 minutes I was with him alone (while Karly was at quilting group) last Monday

Guess I’ll spare you the details of the last, except to say that diaper-changing has been, overall, not nearly the hassle and grossness I had expected it to be.  Just as parents have been saying for centuries, when it’s your child, it’s not that bad. Sure, it stinks.  Sure, it’s a little gross and a little annoying when a diaper leaks and you have to change his clothes, too.  But the experience of caring for a little person in this way has, by and large, been more a pleasure than a nightmarish succession of grossnesses.  (Do note that I’m the one writing this, and not Karly; she of course has changed 85% of the diapers!)

Jedd is a wonderful little guy, with developing feelings and verbosities and mostly good moods and all good health.  He is a little short for his age (like Karly!) but is advanced in terms of speech.  He eats almost everything he’s given and particularly likes squash, pancakes, and couscous.

Not everything is positive.  He does have his naughty side, like last night when, just before I came home, he had pulled all of his books off his shelf and had refused to start picking them up when asked.  Adults like to say “he’s testing you,” and I suppose there’s truth in that, but I wonder why.  He knows it will please his parents if he picks the books up, so why doesn’t he like to please us all the time?  Having been forewarned, I picked him up immediately when I walked in the door and talked with him seriously about this.  He listened intently (probably wondering “how did you know about the books on the floor?”), and I reminded him that when either of us asks him to do something, he should do it.  Then I said, “Jedd, say ‘Okay, Dad.'”  And he said, “Okay, Dad” and nodded.  I hoped it was his own, developing desire to be compliant that led him to say that so readily, and not merely a desire to avoid the issue.

In thinking about the book incident, we could get all philosophical or psychological and say “He’s finding his way in the world, being his own person.”  Or we could get all new-age-parenty and say he’s exploring and being creative … it’s best not to draw boundaries.”  Or we could get all Calvinist and say “This was a manifestation of his fallen nature” or of “original sin.”

Aside:  I often check myself in the use of quote marks, because the commercial and less-schooled literary worlds over-use them.  For instance, have you ever seen “Ladies’ Room” in quotes on a restroom door at a restaurant?  (Are the entrants seen as sort-of ladies or as real ladies?)  I use quotes around “original sin” above because the phrase is of human origin and refers to something that in my view is not a reality.  It deserves attribution—to Augustine or to whomever—but it does not deserve to be presumed real.[1]

So, back to our story.  While I don’t subscribe even half-heartedly to the notion of “original sin” as advocated by Augustine or Calvin, I do surely see, even in our 1.7-year-old Jedd, that humans are not perfect by nature.  He is naturally sweet, and naturally cheerful, and naturally people-sensitive (you should have seen him burst into tears when he thought I was falling off the roof recently—this was completely instinctual, natural … and could not possibly be considered a bad thing!), but he is also prone, in some way and to some degree, to sporadic manifestations of naughtiness.

I appreciate Karly’s choice of the word “naughty” instead of “bad.”  It seems to frame Jedd’s negative behaviors appropriately, without leading anyone — us or him — to begin thinking of him as “bad.”  He is not bad.  He is good.  He is a blessing.  He just has a few human tendencies that need guidance, correction, discipling.  These tendencies do not lump him in the category of the depraved.  They merely mark him as human, with the rest of us.  Part of our job as parents is to capitalize on the good things, while correcting the bad things–shaping and discipling him as he matures, so that he is later a) prone to take his own steps toward God and b) prone to do an about-face when confronted with evil.

God, help us with this sweet, good little boy.  He is an easy child to raise in so many ways, but we are only adequate to this important task if You make it so.

[1] According to Wikipedia, “Writing against the monk Pelagius, whom he understood as teaching that man’s nature was unaffected by the Fall, or at least was only weakened in the Fall, and that he was free to follow after God apart from divine intervention, Augustine developed the doctrine of original sin and, Calvinists contend, the doctrine of total inability.


Change in the morning routine

Actually, there’s not much of a routine yet this summer.  But I have plans for one.  🙂  It includes exercise 4-5 days a week, reading, score study, a little bit of administrative work here & there, and arranging/composition projects.

On Wednesday, I slept 45 minutes longer than I meant to.  Then, when it was my time to go out for an exercise walk, it started raining pretty hard.  Karly seemed to be groggy that morning, on top of things.  So, a change in plans was called for.

Jedd was not groggy.  He was pleasant and ready to go, as is his custom.  You have to meet this baby boy.  He is amazing.  He often wakes up and rolls around, turns on the music box thingy in his crib & listens to soft music, and talks softly to himself.  He can do this for up to an hour!

Anyway, after I got Jedd up and changed him (well, not really changed him, but removed and replaced a certain yellowed article of his clothing), Karly asked if I could feed him this morning.  Okay.  Put him in his chair.  He made a little impatiently hungry noise, and I told him to wait while I got his breakfast.  He waited patiently and watched his fish in the fishbowl.  Then I gave him a cup of milk, and asked K which cereal mix was the right one for this morning.  (She keeps track of these things.)  Fed the sweet boy some pear/banana/oatmeal mix, which he happily chowed down on.  He reached for his milk periodically, and said “pls!”[1] a lot as he hoped for another bite.

This little guy is an inspiration.  He made my morning start better.  Jedd has a good heart, wants to please us, and has a sweet voice.  You should have seen his eyes after he pointed to the ceiling fan and I made it go around just with a touch and a swish of my wrist.  He was amazed.  He watches and learns.  And he’s really cute in the process.  We are blessed.

I’m glad my morning routine got sidetracked.

Addendum:  Wednesday night, I had my first emotional pain in parenting.  There have been many fears and feelings of inadequacy, but for the first time, I felt that he was willfully testing his limits to see who was in charge.  In correcting him, I could see his brokenness so clearly, and the more I thought about it, the more sad I became.  I suspect that although Jedd is rather average on the “schedule” of physical developments, he may just be well above average in mental and emotional developments.  I think he is special, and I’m afraid that I won’t have the wherewithal to be what he needs.

God, help us both raise this wonderful boy.  We don’t deserve him, and we want to be used somehow to fashion a better servant of Yours than we are.

[1] “Pls,” when translated, is “please, more.”

We’ve never ____ before. . . .

If you noticed the slug on this post, you might have thought it would be about change in the church. I once considered myself a “change agent,” despite the dirty-word status of that term in some circles. These days, I’m much more content to be viewed as a person interested in a) content over b) methodology. After all, the former is important, and the second is, relatively speaking, not.

Anyhoo…. Ever see the musical Annie? The cute, little red-headed girl orphan gets adopted by the tycoon and all his staff. At one point, when they realize what’s happening to their previously ordered household, they bust out in song, as characters in Broadway musicals are wont to do, exclaiming,

We’ve nev – er had a lit – tle girl!

(Then come the echoing, worried undertones 
from the choristers in the wings:)

We’ve nev – er had a lit – tle girl! We’ve nev – er had a lit – tle girl!

It’s a humorous scene. Everyone in the cast is realizing his/her life is about to change rather radically, with the new addition. What about you and me, in real life? Well, we don’t often bust out in song. (I’ve written a couple of ditties for my son, but they’ve not yet been choreographed.  I don’t dance.)

While Karly and I regularly experience new things with our sweet son Jedd, we feel completely blessed in a lack of craziness. Those moments that have us pondering, “What next? … we’ve never had a little boy … we haven’t done this before” are generally accompanied by a peace, a confidence that it will be all right.

He had his four-month checkup yesterday and is growing just fine. He’s happy, he’s now turning over onto his back delightedly and regularly, and tonight is a big night for him. He’s getting his first solid (well … semi-solid) food. Rice cereal! Woo-hoo!

God, may our feelings of peace and confidence never arise out of false self-sufficiency (for all self-sufficiency is false). You are sufficient, and all good things come from You.