One More Piece of the Puzzle

On a lighter note… One of the most miraculous parts of parenting, by far, is listening as the pieces of the language puzzle click into place. Even though i’ve watched it come together with the first kid, it is no less of a wonder the second time around.

One day they are screaming, crying, flailing little animals. Then they are saying short, single-syllable nouns. ‘Dad’  ‘dog’ and ‘book’ ranked among the first at our house. Then the single-word utterances take on purpose and urgency. ‘Milk!’ ‘Down!” and of course, every parent’s favorite–”NO!”

Then comes the stringing together of words into sentences, though sentences that lack prepositions: ‘put shoes!’ ‘eat cookie!’ and ‘go car!’ (Huh. Toddlers sure are bossy). And then, in what seems like a literal overnight transformation, this tiny person is having a conversation with you.  “What’s that?” “Come with you!” “Don’t eat money!” (we learned this on a recent visit to the ER, and it has become a persistent litany).

What used to be “No, Boppa!” is now, ‘Mother, i believe that harper needs to apologize to me. Could you come and see about that please?” Well…something like that. I think his exact words were “Harpa, say sorry.” Maybe not a super refined articulation, but worlds away from a month ago, a week ago, yesterday.

And before i know it, he will be the one announcing, during children’s moment, that the preacher’s family does not pray at meal time. Oh wait, his sister beat him to that one. It’s cool though. I’m sure he’ll find his own embarassing revelations to share, soon enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I love babies. I especially loved my babies, when they were drooly, cuddly, bald little messes. But I’m such a verbal person, that I feel a different kind of connection to my kids once they can converse with me. And my, but life is easier when they can say what they want already, instead of all that pointing/grunting/crying nonsense!

But my favorite part of watching the words come together has to be witnessing the joy on their own little faces, on that day when they realize that ‘a grown-up just understood what i wanted! AND I GOT IT!’  Watching them memorize books and being able to read them back to you; hearing them sing little strains of song that they picked up somewhere; overhearing a conversation between two tiny people who speak the same language; articulating what hurts after a fall; ordering what they want for dinner like my kitchen is a restaurant with a kids’ menu. That’s the stuff. Our house is alive with words.

Not long ago, I overheard the older sister giving her brother a mangled version of the children’s worship blessing: “the Lord is with you (something about the light) Go with God (something about cookies).” He tried to squirm away from the hand she’d placed on his head, but she was going to by-god bless him, whether he liked it or not. A great reminder that, while the language of faith has little to do with words, we piece it together, a little at a time, all the days of our life. Our greatest hope for the journey is that, some day, the lid comes off, the light clicks on, that last piece falls into place, and we can name for ourselves what all this fuss has been about.

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About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...


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