November 17, 2014

More, please!

Recently, my husband and I took Z to the Dallas Arboretum to visit the stunning pumpkin village (which boasts over 65,000 pumpkins!) for my birthday. Throughout the day, I took little snippets of videos of him playing among the pumpkins and trying (unsuccessfully) to lift them and carry them. Later, while he slept, I used a fancy iPhone app to make a video montage of the day’s festivities. Then, I made a choice which has haunted me ever since: I showed him the video.

My son is obsessed with this video. If he sees me with my phone, he walks over and climbs up into my lap and signs “please.” His face lights up and he throws back his head and laughs every time the music starts and he sees the baby on the screen playing among the pumpkins. He’s gotten to the point where he knows when the video is almost over, and he looks at me and signs “More, please!” Usually, after the 9th or 10th viewing, I get to the point in which I’ve decided we’ve had enough and I say “okay, all done!” and he just wails.

Recently, he's been doing the same thing with two specific books that he just can't get enough of.  The moment I'm done reading the last line, he closes the book and looks at me and signs "Please!" I think we read "The Jungle King" sixteen times yesterday afternoon alone.

Kids, man. Long after Mom or Dad has grown tired or bored from the activity, the kid is shouting or gesturing for “More, please!” I was laughing about this with my husband during one particularly epic meltdown (because what can you do other than laugh sometimes?), when I remembered a quote a friend had posted on his Facebook page (emphasis mine):

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” - G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

The entire quote speaks to me on a spiritual level, of course, but I have often found spiritual lessons in my daily interactions with my son. The absolute delight he finds in an activity or a moment does not diminish with repetition. On the contrary, he finds a new joy with each repetition! Remember when we were children, how we used to rewind our VHS tapes over and over to watch our favorite part of a movie? Goodness, when did we outgrow that? When did we start to lose our “abounding vitality” and our fierce, free spirit?

As adults, we all too often rush through our day and the many things that need to be accomplished. Even the moments that have the potential to stop us in our tracks only give us pause for a moment because there’s always a schedule to keep, a meeting to go to, a lesson to plan, a deadline to meet.

Recently, I was walking across the college campus where I work on my lunch hour. I had music playing in my headphones and it was a beautiful, breezy and sunny day. I was soaking up all the Vitamin D I could before going back to my cubicle. All in one beautiful moment, the music in my ears reached a soaring chord and the wind blew my hair back from my face. Without thinking, I threw back my head, spread my arms wide and laughed with the pure joy of the moment, without worry or care as to who saw me or how foolish I looked..

After that brief, joyful moment passed, my son’s face entered my mind. I thought of how each moment and each new thing that he has discovered and encountered in his 16 months of life has been filled with that kind of joy and wonder. Therefore why shouldn’t he want to experience it over and over and over again? I know it’s easier for him than it is for us, but perhaps I should take a lesson from my son and, in my opinion, from my Heavenly Father to actively seek delight in the monotony of everyday life.

I’m realistic; I know that it isn’t going to happen every day. But perhaps I can strive to get to a point where I find such joy in the minute differences in the monotony of the daily routine that I can look up, smile, and say “More, please!” I think it’s worth a try.

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