This morning at 10:30, I began one of those mundane conversations with my two year old that ends up fascinating me with its significance. I was still in my pajama pants, staying home from church because of the toddler’s T-Rex cough and exploding nose. Despite his voice being both raspy and nasally, August had plenty of questions to ask about the bright colored deer on my Old Navy flannels. We went through every color on each deer’s cozy scarf. Then we got to the multi colored deer.
“It’s rainbow colored,” I said.
“Rainbow?” he asked.
We’ve drawn rainbows before with crayons and I’ve talked about ROYGBIV. I’ve told him about the rainbow we saw on his first birthday. All of that was months ago. He stared at me blank.
“Remember the story in the Bible of Noah and his big boat and the animals that lived with him and how after it stopped raining God sent a rainbow as a promise?” August loves stories. He listened but showed no sign of memory. Man, I was thinking, we have not being reading his Bible with him enough. The boy can list dinosaur species and names of his favorite Thomas the Tank Engine characters, but he knows so little about the simple scripture stories. I continued, “God made rainbows and he said, ‘Every time you see a rainbow, remember that I love you and that I’m going to rescue you.’”
Of course, as any mother sitting next to her laptop in 2010 would immediately do, I googled “rainbow,” clicked on images and pulled up some pictures of the real thing. I said, “We should read the Noah story in your Jesus book.”
“No Jesus book!” August yelled after me as I walked to his room. “No Jesus book!” he cried as I brought his Jesus Storybook Bible (the best kids’ Bible ever, hands down) back to our rocking chair. He wanted to read Thomas, he said. But I insisted that there was no rainbow story in his Thomas book. And he assented. Soon he was immersed enough in the story of Noah building a boat in the desert, flailing in the waves, landing on the mountain, and receiving God’s promise that he requested it again. He then remembered about Jonah and the Big Fish, which we read through a few times until we moved onto the hero of the Jesus book, our man by the same name.
We probably spent thirty minutes with the stories until he took his Jesus book and excused himself to find Daddy and force him to read Jonah and the Big Fish another four times.
This evening while I changed his stinky diaper, that boy spread his legs into a V and said, “I’m a rainbow!”
“Well, I guess you are,” I said, partly thinking, if a child can come up with an abstract concept like making his legs into the shape of a rainbow, he should be able to wipe his own butt. Then I thought, maybe he’s a poet! (I mentally composed: “As a child / my legs arched a rainbow…”
But then I thought, as I often do, What is in that little brain of yours?
How many conversations do I begin with him that will form how he sees the world, how he thinks, what he believes about goodness and God and hope in the midst of brokenness?
That’s the moment I felt grateful, wiping poop from his bottom for the 5,000th time in his life, I thought: I get to be the one who teaches him what a rainbow is. And, even though it’s not yet Thankful Tuesday, I have to tell you, I’m grateful.