13 January 2011

not that cute

Two Junes ago, this baby made an entrance into this world. His entrance was not short and awful like his sisters, or long and not too terrible like his brother's.

No, Collins came into the world like he's done most things: as easily and amenably as a baby generally can.
I think there were about 30 minutes of genuine unpleasantness (not that the 5 hours before were my idea of a party, but...), and then it was over - and really over- not only-just-beginning like after his sister was born.

And then he did what he was told. He nursed, he smiled, he slept, he occasionally cooed, but never in church.

At his four month check up, we discovered that he wasn't getting enough calories at all. His sister had not been either. But she had let us know. Every moment of every day. Not Collins. If Mama wanted him to starve, well, then that's what he would do.

And he is bald and blue eyed and chubby cheeked. And has spent the first 18 months of life generally just toddling around behind his favorite two people in the world. He is a prop in their plays, and only cries when something is genuinely wrong.

In Psalm 22, David talks about coming to trust God while still on his mother's breast. We all used to laugh and say that perhaps Collins had that in common with David.

Used to being the operative words there.

I now see that God was overly mercifulto me. Eason, when Collins was born, was still really in the throws of being a 2 year old, and needing all of the sanctifying work that that requires. And God knew that I could not continue staying on top of that Eason situation, and at the same time deal with a fussy or demanding baby. Someone would have suffered. Or, rather more likely, all three of us would have suffered. And definitely Paul and Ada as well.

Well, Collins has turned a corner. Usually when we say a child has turned a corner, we mean that he or she has gotten over some issue in behavior or has begun the ascent toward some achievement that otherwise seemed impossible.

But really? What is a turning of a corner? Just a change of direction, right? You can turn the corner from not-so-hot to rocking-my-socks-off, but you could also do the opposite, right?

Well, if you can, my sweet, cute, compliant child has done just that.

18 months is a hard age to parent - but it's an even harder age to be. You want to talk clearly, but you struggle to be understood. You are too little and too uncoordinated to be in full control of your movement - you fall a lot, cannot unscrew tops of things (thankgoodness, since Collins's favorite noise maker is a bottle of aspirin he keeps finding), cannot draw what you want to draw, but you, dadgummit, want to draw things because that's what Ada Bee and Eason are doing.

Life is hard, and you've no way of knowing it's going to get better.

And due to this frustration - and that the devil tempted eve and she gave the fruit to adam - you just might have a bad attitude - and great behavior doesn't usually come out of bad attitudes.

My sweet, easy baby has turned a corner alright - a corner into willful, angry, frustrated and opinionated toddler land.

Take this conversation we had this morning (and have had 4 of the last 8 mornings an almost identical one):

Collins, holding box of wheat thins: Cacker?
Me: Say please.
Collins: Cacker?
Me: Collins - I'd love to give you a cracker - but you must say please first
Collins, pointing: Fish
Me: That is a fish.
Collins: Cracker?
Me: Say Please
Collins, pointing out window: MaeMae
Me: Sadie Macon is not here right now, but that is her name
Collins: Will
Me: Will is Sadie Macon's daddy - that's right.
Collins: Cracker?
Me: As soon as you say please, you may have a cracker
Collins, pointing: Pants
Me: Those are your pants. Look, I have pants, too (his father's sweat pants, but they're still pants, dernit)
Collins: Cacker?
Me: Say "Cracker Please", Collins
Collins: NO!!!!
Me: We are not going to be ugly
Collins then walks to the nearest soft surface, this time a chair, and hits it as hard as he can.
Me: No, Collins! You are not going to be ugly.

And round and round we go.

Some people in my life lately have seen this or something like it in the last three weeks and said, "Aww - ann lowrey - but he's so cute - give him a cracker" or, how about this one, "Come here Collins - you're so cute, I'll give you a cracker."

(Yes, murderous intent goes through my brain, and I have to repent..)

(Of course, these are the same folks who rightfully lament America's almost entirely surly teenagers.... If you let your 18 month old be surly, guess what he or she will turn into, most assuredly. Guess. Just guess. Three guesses. First two don't count.)

But let's be honest. These people are wrong. Surly is the opposite of cute. No baby is that cute.
Not even yours. Really. I promise.
And Collins isn't even the cutest baby out there, so he's definitely not that cute.

20 minutes later, after he's been away toddling (and probably stewing) for a while, Collins walked up in the midst of a math lesson, and handed me the wheat thin box, and very proudly said, "Cacker, pease, Mama"

And yes, I ooh and aah and tell him how that's the way to ask for things and how sweet it is and how proud I am, and I lovingly produce a cracker. Or three.

And I start to think, perhaps we'll turn another corner again one day.... I'll let you know. Until then, I'll hold on tight, trust that God will continue to show us grace and peace and mercy beyond what we deserve, and try to keep laughing.

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