While visiting my grandson this past weekend, we took a nature walk through the park. It was hilarious walking beside Little J and observing him as he shone an imaginary flashlight onto our path and whispered over and over again, “It’s not scary.” He’s two years old, and if you could have seen his posture and how he gingerly tip-toed over rotting leaves and mucky soil, first zigging this way and then that, you would have giggled with us. What a cutie. He looked like a miniature explorer.
We stopped for a bit so that J and his uncle could break a few fallen branches into segments and throw them into a pond at the park’s edge. J nearly stepped into the water a few times, and would have, had it not been for his ever vigilante uncle keeping close watch over him. While walking near the pond, a pair of guinea hens-a mating pair-came out of the thicket along the pond’s edge to squawk and bellow at us. J thought they were fascinating and took off across the lawn in order to “pet” them. He did not succeed in this attempt at friendship, but he did keep them on the run for more than a few minutes, helping them to accomplish their exercise goals for the day.
Our daughter-in-law, Megan, is known for posting J-isms on her Facebook status from time to time. Today, I thought I’d follow her lead by posting a J-ism here. Our little guy wanted to know what the guinea’s were doing when they began their assault on us. I told him that they were probably protecting their babies or eggs that were resting in a nest in the thicket. Off handedly, mommy quipped, “Or taking some time out for oolala.” J immediately asked, “What’s oolala?” As you can imagine, we laughed and laughed over that one. Kids say the darndest things.
While at the park, we came across seed pods that none of us had ever seen before. They were hanging from a large tree growing between the pond and the playground. A few lay on the soft earth under the tree’s skeletal winter canopy. The pods looked like little brown pompoms or maybe Christmas balls hanging some thirty or forty feet in the air. They were spiky looking, but soft and easily crushed under our feet. They made great projectiles, which we used to bomb the the side of the tree’s trunk. What can I say, it’s what boys do. We were helping Mother Nature in her planting cycle, right? It was at this point that J had his melt down.
It happened when he bent over to pick up another pompom. A fly that had landed on the pod crawled off, and onto J’s chubby hand. He freaked! He screamed! Then he immediately held his arms up, seeking the comfort of his mom’s embrace. That was the end of our nature walk. To the car we went, poor J unwilling to let go of the death grip he had on his momma’s neck.
It was good to reconnect with the kids this weekend, and good to support one another as life gets ready to change for all of them. In seven short weeks a brother will be joining their tribe. J will no longer be the baby. It makes me sad even typing that sentence, but all things change and with each change comes new and exciting adventures. A year ago, J’s imagination and abilities would not have been developed enough to lead us on an animated march through the leaves, past the pond, onto the pods, invisible flashlight in tow. Time was needed to get us to this point.
As spring arrives in the great northeast, we praise God for new experiences and valuable lessons learned. In every way, on every walk, together, we hear his Spirit whispering to us, “It’s not scary. Trust me. I will take care of you.”