(October 4, 2008)
Ah, children. As I write this, I am watching a mess o' kids in a McDonalds playland. The dynamics are fascinating to me. It's lunchtime on a Thursday, so the kids are all toddlers and preschoolers. A microcosm of their demographic, they're all finding their places and making their ways in the pack, as it were.
There's my preschooler, talking big and tough, challenging other kids at every turn. He's almost always outrun, outjumped, and outdone at home, where he's the fourth in line. And there's the kid who just punched him in the head for pushing him out of the way and beating him to the steering wheel.
There's my toddler, following around and petting another little guy who's about his size, but probably six months younger.
There is a veritable gaggle of little girls, squealing in ways that only little girls can, and the one who'd rather play with the boys, I think, but is instead wailing piteously. You'd be inclined to worry, but there's not a tear in her eyes and she's continuing to play on the fringe, waiting to see which grownup will come to her rescue.
There are moms who are oblivious to the activity on the playset, and there are those following their little darlings to catch them before they land on their well padded backsides.
There's the nubile walker who insists on keeping up with the big kids, and the kid who's pushing four but still running around with a pacifier and blankie.
In this world of ketchup-eaters and slide-climbers, there is no notion of crises, impending legislation, or global tension. For them, there are french fries and ice cream cones, tunnels and slides, and any slight of etiquette or aggression will be forgotten before bedtime. The kids will figure out how to be and how to go forward because there are grownups to show them the way until they can do it on their own. I wish that I could feel that sense of freedom sometimes: to live in the moment, and leave the bigger picture to the bigger people. But I am one of the "big people" now, and the task of looking forward and back to understand the significance of this moment lies with me. Lord, grant me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a childlike spirit to trust you for the rest...and eat ketchup.