December has been hard on David. Balls, by far, are his favorite toy, and all December he’s been told that he can’t touch the balls that are glittery, shiny, lit up, made of glass and hung on trees at his eye level.
He’s broken two ornaments so far. Neither of them were ours because David lives in my house and I’m not an idiot, so we decided not to get a tree.
Berries happen to look a lot like balls, too.
Two weeks ago I found a little styrofoam holly berry in David’s diaper.
David’s learning lots of words, but he says the word “ball” more than 100 times a day. Before breakfast.
Ball! Ball! Ball! Ball! Ball! Ball! Ball! Ball! Ball! Ball! Ball! Ball! Ball! Ball! Ball!
His eyes are trained for balls in a way I can’t keep up with. Wherever we are, he scans the room for balls and frantically points them out. Did you know all produce sections at Kroger are decorated with helium balloons? They put them there to make moms stress eat while in the grocery shopping.
The other day David was eating breakfast and started panicking as he pointed at a ball on our counter. I looked and there wasn’t a ball, so I just started naming everything else on the counter. Cup! Plate! Water! But David insisted. Even after breakfast, he threw a tantrum at the base of the counter. I explained to him that there wasn’t a ball, and tried to distract him. Fifteen minutes later I realized there was a ball after all. I hadn’t seen it because it was covered with a dishtowel, barely visible.
Last week his friend Tyler gave him two balls from a ball pit. He loves them and hasn’t put them down for a week; we even let him sleep with them. They’re the closest thing David has ever had to a security blanket.
David now has 12 teeth, and we’re working on brushing his them. I’ve been using the same tactic my mom had when I was little: she’d say EEEE and then we’d say EEEE she’d brush our front teeth. So I said EEEE and David said EEEE! And the moment I touched the toothbrush to his front teeth, he pushed me away, put his hand over his mouth, and looked at me like I’d sucker-punched him.
When I stopped laughing, I tried AAAAA. So I said AAAAA and when he said AAAAA, he pulled off his sock and stuck it in my mouth.
David is a willful kid, but he’s the sweetest little guy, too. A few times a day he calls off the ball search and rests his head on my shoulder, or curls up in my lap with a book, or smiles proudly when he climbs up on the couch all by himself like a big boy.
David goes to bed every night at 7:30, and by the time we kiss him goodnight and turn out his light, Tom and I are always exhausted. Finally! Adult time! We can have a conversation and not worry about where we leave the scissors or put a glass of water and enough with the BALL talk!
Which is funny, because every night one of us points, looks at the other and says “BALL!” And then? We both smile.
This past week has been very, very sad as we mourn with the families in Newtown, CT, and I’m actually really glad you have no idea what’s going on. Since the shootings at Virginia Tech these things have felt more personal, but this felt personal and so, so heavy. At first I thought I was so sad because I’m a mom now, but it’s not because I’m a mom. It’s because I’m a human, and this was a human tragedy. We weren’t created for this. We were created in God’s image for love and relationships and community and to give glory back to our Creator.
I don’t want to be a fearful parent, but this sort of thing makes me fearful and anxious. It tempts me to think that if I orchestrate your life to protect you from every possibility, then I won’t have to worry. But that won’t work. The only real thing to do with my fear is to give it to God and trust that He loves you and cares for you. But that’s where the paradox comes in, because I believe God loved and cared for those kids in Connecticut, too. Maybe that’s why trust and faith are hard sometimes.
David, we’re in the midst of Advent. It’s a time when we expectantly wait for Jesus’ return. We’re all waiting on something: healing, unanswered prayers, forgiveness, rest. But in the past few days those things seem small compared to what we’re really waiting on: redemption. One day Christ will restore this broken world, rescue us from thing like mourning, evil and mental illness, and fulfill his promise that he will wipe away every tear.
I love you,
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away”