A Soft and Impressionable Heart

We were, all three of us, on the bed in the master bedroom in the early morning hours. It’s routine, this: after she wakes, we bring her back to our room for nursing and cuddling and reading and playing, a sweet time of family togetherness before we start the day.

She’s been drooling without reserve lately, leaving a trail behind her wherever she goes. The morning in question was no different; she stood at the headboard, looking down into the chasm between the wall and the bed, her trademark calling card snaking its way onto the wood. With a sound of mock revulsion and a mischievous grin, Jonathan reached over and grabbed my pillow to mop it up.

I played my part, of course, giving a cry of indignation, whacking him playfully on the arm.

“Hey! What do you think you’re doing?”

Katie saw this interaction in its entirety, took it in like one watching a tennis match. I don’t know how much of it she understood, whether our words had any meaning for her, but there was one thing that did register, one action that had an effect: her eyes widened as my hand made contact with her daddy’s arm, and then they filled with tears. She lost it, fell apart completely and totally, her face scrunched tight, her mouth open wide with desperate wails.

Jonathan gathered her in his arms, rocked her against his chest, raising his eyebrows and shrugging at me over her head as she cried. We worked together to soothe her, to assure her that everything was alright, that we were only teasing, but it took a good two or three minutes to calm her down, an eternity when you have a inconsolable toddler in your arms. Still, calm down she finally did, and soon enough after that she was happy again, laughing as we tickled her belly, as she moved back and forth between us. Her world was restored, everything in its proper place.

Fascinating, isn’t it, how the human mind processes actions and behaviors, how she knows, even at such a young age, that mommy hitting daddy indicates a problem? She’s had no exposure to violence, or even to raised voices, no context in which to place such a thing. And yet it shook her, deeply.

This little heart which has been entrusted to me to tend, to mold, to love – it’s soft, impressionable, precious. May I be ever cognizant of that, choosing my words and my actions carefully, relying on infinite grace to fill the places where I fall short, and, as I learn to see through her eyes, may my own heart made new like a child’s, soft and impressionable and precious.

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Family and Parenting

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