Matthew called to unpack his time at his parents and then said, “Dad, I have a question and it is okay to say no.”
Matthew is our chosen son. He dated one of our daughters for a very short time five years ago. They broke up, but he has remained a part of our lives since. He needed another set of parents.
“Sure. What is it?”
“Do you by any chance have any time tomorrow morning to watch Noah from 9:30 until noon?”
Matthew is a single parent. Noah is his adorable 3.5 year old boy, a wonderful gift to this world.
“Actually, I have nothing scheduled. I’d love to hang with Noah,” I said.
I awoke that morning feeling so down. It was like a sadness without rooting, just a darkness, blackness, lying to my soul. I’ve been hitting this for a couple weeks frequently. It hinders my ability to write, to function. So, I spent some time in prayer crying out. “Help me escape this tyranny. Help me walk the journey before me.” I meditated on the passage of the week from Mark 5. This didn’t fully right my heart, but at least opened my ears to hear God say,
No matter what comes, I am with you. Through the storm and through the night! There is nothing to keep you from My life. No force on earth or heaven can keep you from Me.
I walked out my morning routine. Then, I drove across to Matthew’s apartment arriving at 9:15 am. Matthew and Noah were at the table finishing breakfast. Noah held a whole carrot in his hand and was chomping away at it. In front of him were also a couple hardboiled eggs, grapes and toast.
“Daddy, could I have some butter on my toast?” Noah asked Matthew.
“I already buttered it,” Matthew told him. “You see where you touched it? Your finger is greasy. That’s the butter.”
This additional fact fascinated Noah who looked at his finger, tasted it, and smiled. He devoured his eggs. Ate some grapes and his toast.
I took out part of my breakfast and ate while they did. Noah had picked back up his carrot, took another bite, then placed his carrot down and said, “All done, daddy.” His dad wiped him off and got him down.
“Can Brian and I play with the blue balloon?” he asked.
Matthew told him yes, and he dashed off to the living room. “The balloon is nearly out of air,” Matthew told me. “But he loves tossing it.” I put my things away, and walked to the living room where Noah was ready to toss the balloon.
He hit it to me, paddling it with his hand. “Stand up, Brian.” He told me.
“I’d prefer to kneel so I am closer to your height,” I told him. This caught him as unusual. “Daddy always stands!” he announced as he struck the balloon.
“Well, for now, I’ll stay like this,” I responded, hitting it back.
We hit it back and forth, high and low, fast and slow. I hit it and it landed on the ground in front of Noah. He looked up and said,
“Wait! I’m not ready.”
“Well, get ready,” I said, retrieving the balloon.
Noah rubbed his hands vigorously over his face, then up through his hair, and across the back of his neck. Then, he shook his mane of curly hair, opened his bright eyes and said, “Okay, ready!”
So adorable! I was laughing as I tossed the balloon to him. He hit it back. His dad gave him a hug and kiss and left. And we broke out the robot dinosaur, which makes noise but it not that thrilling. Then, broke out his many, many other dinosaur figures.
Noah calls them all by name. “Is this the acrocanthosaurus?” I asked, thrilled I could remember how to say the name. “No,” he said matter-of-fact, “That’s a T-Rex.”
We had many dinosaur battles, as he called them, each with our two triceratops.
“WAIT!” he said to me at one point. “You have to let me win!”
“Oh, so that is how the game goes!” I stood corrected.
He loved it when my triceratops flew across the room, usually with a cry of defeat, as he hit them with his mighty tail. A few times we even lined up all his many other dinosaurs, all shapes, sizes, colors and names, and then, we bravely fought them off with our four triceratops. It was one amazing battle!
Indoor basketball came next. “Okay, now say “Meeeeeeiiiiiooooooossss” when you make the basket! So, I did time and again.
“Now fall down after making the basket and roll,” he instructed. So, we practiced dramatically falling and rolling on the ground after a basket time and time again. Hoop after hoop, amazing shots, the crowd was cheering for certain, and us laughing and laughing.
We broke out a 100-piece puzzle and I watched amazed as this little guy, separated all the edge pieces from the center ones, and formed the edge. Then began to put in the middle pieces. I put in a few pieces but he mostly built this puzzle on his own. Certainly, he had done it previously, but Matthew told me later it had been months since they had broken it out. It was a feat for someone his age.
We had a snack then. He chomped on that carrot some more and I broke out my salad. “What is that?” he asked pointing at my fruit compote made with pears, pineapple and cranberries. I told him and asked, “Do you want to try it?” I put some on a spoon. He held it up, sniffed it, and looked at it uncertainly. “You certainly do not have to try it,” I told him. He handed the spoon back. I laughed. We were still eating when his dad arrived home.
It was the best morning.
As I left, I felt centered, ready, and joyful. The blues couldn’t stay after all that joy, laughter, rolling on the ground and play. It healed what ailed me. Time with this three year old brought the perfect remedy; my feet were set back on the right path.