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Friday, May 30, 2014

Annoyed or Joyful

Last week I was talking with a fellow mom about our recent trip to Target - also known as, that time Jake ran through the store like a wild caveman, alternately screaming and laughing maniacally, using his arm as a machete through the shelf of cake mixes, grabbing the balls in the toyland and tossing them into the aisle shouting: "Ball!!!"

I tried to pick him up to go check out. A woman offered me her cart as I grabbed Jake around his stomach like a football, and he threw his head down like a champion platform diver, yelling the whole way.

I was telling my friend about this because her daughter is just a month younger than Jake and I thought she might have some tips.

She sort of stared at me for a second, then asked: "Well won't Jake just sit in the cart?"

That's when I knew Jake was a "special" shopper.

He's also a "special" zoo-goer. 

We took him to the zoo with his friend, Jackson, in Kansas City over Memorial Day weekend. Jackson sat in his wagon, lifted up the latch to get out at exhibits, respectfully walking over to look at the penguins and nicely holding his dad's hand as they watched the seal show.

Jake on the other hand ... 

No sooner had we gotten him in the wagon facing Jackson then he was saying: "Outttt, Outtttt!"

No sooner had we lifted him out then he was running away from us all over the zoo, charging into the wall of the polar bear exhibit, reaching out to grab the branches of the trees in the bird exhibit:
"Birdieeeee Birdieeeeee."

Jake also got excited whenever the zoo bus went past. He pointed out: "Caahhhrrr! Caahhrrr!!"

"It's a bus," we told him.

Jackson looked at us, paused, then looked at Jake: "Bus," he said, clear as day.

Ben and I couldn't help but laugh.

Jake is certainly a spirited little toddler. He resists holding our hands, even when we force it in the parking lot. A few days ago he decided that before bed he'd rather read books to himself, rather than in Mommy's lap. Mommy is still getting over this.

I shouldn't be surprised though. He is my son, and to this day, the best way to get me to do something is to tell me I can't. Independence, determination, wanting to choose his own way -- I guess that all comes in Jake's blood.

And even in the midst of these crazy terrible 2's, when going to Costco to make a return means risking total destruction and embarrassment ... I think God is yet again teaching me something through my son.

One thing about Jake: he gets people to respond to him. When he's putting the stretchy wire up over his head at Costco, when he's laughing hysterically about surprising me behind a rack of clothes at Target, when he says "YAYYY!" and claps at the end of a hymn in church -- he definitely draws attention.

I notice that people respond in one of two ways:

1) They get super annoyed. Even if he's having fun and smiling, sometimes people get face to face with his huge smile and they see him merely as a blockade to their mission of GETTING THINGS DONE. Yesterday at Target a mom with a little boy of her own nearly ran into Jake twice. Both times he just smiled and said: "iiiHi."

She just shook her head dismissively and rushed past.

2) They get super joyful. They smile at Jake and at each other and even at me. Their delight reminds me that parenting is a delight. That God has given me these little moments - even if they slow me down - even if it drives me nuts - to delight me. To show me that joy is here. 

I'm sure part of them was a little annoyed, too. Kids aren't supposed to play with that stretchy wire -- and yes I did get him to stop ... and kids aren't supposed to be so rambunctious.

But that's part of who Jake is. And maybe part of who he is is God's gift to me as his mom. 

God is telling me that these little interruptions come into our lives every single day. And we have a choice. We can be super annoyed or we can be super joyful.

We can be the person - like the people who smile at Jake and comment to me - who shows someone we meet the face of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus, who said, "Let the little children come ... "

Jesus, who was never too busy to be interrupted and become a vessel of grace.

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