As life becomes a little overwhelming with wars, rumors of war, disasters, diseases, and all manner of ills, I find myself thankful for two-and three-year-olds and other assorted toddlers. Perhaps that's part of the purpose for small children. They provide a different perspective on life. They teach us faith--and they make us laugh.
A few weeks ago my small granddaughter informed the clerk at Harmon's grocery store that "You need to clean your store." Taken aback the clerk asked if she'd found something dirty. Little Jen pointed to the array of Halloween spider webs overhead. "'piders! Get a broom."
Attending a baptismal service for one of my grandchildren, the then two-year-old impressed me with his generosity when he passed out candy-like fruit chews to every child around us until I realized he was only giving away the blue ones which he adamantly disliked.
As foster parents we once were blessed with a half-starved two-year-old who had never had solid food. Slowly we added fruits, vegetables, and cereals to his diet. He stood by anxiously waiting every time I baked cookies. He became an enthusiastic fan of cookies warm from the oven. Then came a day when my husband and I sat in church with him between us waiting for the sacrament prayer to begin. All was quiet, then the other ward that shared our building rang a bell to signal their class time was ending. Andy jumped to his feet shouting, "Cookie done, Mommy!"
When it came time for our first grandson to get a haircut, I somehow got elected to do the honors. Chris wiggled and ducked, turned his head, and refused to sit still. Finally I handed him a cookie, hoping it would distract him long enough to get the job done. He sat still for about a minute and I cut quickly, letting his hair drop wherever. He then solemnly handed back the cookie, telling me, "Don't like fuzzy cookie." The cookie was covered with fine, blonde hair.
Nate was quiet and behaved beautifully in church or while shopping, then suddenly he would announce "Done," then he would squirm, run off, yell, and be unmanageable. This is the same child who "worked" instead of "played."
A friend's three-year-old grandson is in love with cleaning. He loves to Swiffer and demands that she shop at Walmart because he likes the way the cleaning products aisle smells. I wonder if this obsession will last through his teenage years.
Jen does her best to teach me lessons in logic and fairness. If I give her a treat, she holds up her other hand and lets me know she has two hands so she needs two treats. Once she was with me when I received a call from another grandchild's school telling me he was ill and needed to be picked up. Naturally Jen went with me to get him, but once he was safely strapped in the backseat beside her, she insisted I should go get the other boys (five boy cousins nearly the same age). She's sure that the boys are a group package and should all come to my house if one does.
A long time ago, when I was a small child, I found a small pine tree of only five or six inches tall, that had been uprooted. I took it home and an elderly neighbor invited me to plant it in his yard. He dug the hole, then let me do the rest. Through the years I've often thought of him and the things he told me that day about planting trees and raising children. He said trees and babies represent faith. Those who don't believe tomorrow will come or that babies will grow into fine adults lack faith. I'm convinced he was right. Planting trees and appreciating the wonder of toddlers is what keeps us believing a better tomorrow is possible and that both the trees and the babies, grown tall, will help it happen.