With a toddler in the house, we have learned that rituals are very important. Each night, we make it a point to go through the familiar routines that our 2-year-old Jordyn craves. As bedtime approaches, we begin by getting her “treat,” a spoonful of applesauce with her daily dose of medicine. After her “treat,” she and I make our way into the bathroom where she sits on the counter while I brush her teeth.
This is becoming very entertaining lately, as she is now embracing the concept of spitting! (She still swallows the majority of the training toothpaste, but she then sprays the counter and mirror!) After we have brushed her teeth and she has thanked Blue (who appears on her toothbrush) and sometimes even kissed the toothbrush goodnight, we make our way to the couch to join my bride and our newborn.
We then have family prayer time that Jordyn begins by praying for our family and friends. Miranda, my bride of almost seven years, begins by praying, “God bless …” and then Jordyn fills in the blanks with the names of the various people we pray for each night. After she prays, we pray as a family, and I then pray a blessing over both of the girls before taking Jordyn to bed. Tonight, she inserted something new into the mix.
Right after her blessing, Jordyn hugged me tightly. Leaning back, she looked straight into my eyes and cut loose with one of those 2-year-old sentences that are becoming so common around my house these days. I listened intently and replied, “Uh-huh!” without having a clue what she had just told me. She repeated her sentence, and I looked over to Miranda for a translation because she is much more fluent in toddler-ese than I am. She smiled and told me what Jordyn was saying. I looked back at Jordyn, and she repeated her sentence for a third time. This time I understood. My 2-year-old was saying, “Cuddle you first!” She wanted Daddy time.
We had spent several hours together, but that wasn’t enough. She wanted some one-on-one time before going to bed. I took her into her room, started the CD player, then sank into the rocker. I told her I loved her, and she echoed her sentiments. She then expressed some of her fears, the things that have been scaring her these days.
She started by exclaiming, “Raining!” because thunder is not one of her favorite things. I assured her it wasn’t raining tonight. She then looked around the darkened room and said, “Bugs!” I let her know there were no bugs, and plus … bugs were silly. This had the desired response … she let loose with a fake belly laugh, “Ha, ha, ha!” (This is a game we play … she says, “Bugs!” I say, “Are silly!” and she then gives a belly laugh entirely too deep for a 2-year-old. We could play for hours.)
Then we just rocked. I held her, and she snuggled me. Again, I told her I loved her, and she told me she loved my guts. (Long story … basically, I determined a while back if guts could be hated, they could be loved. I have told my bride for years I love her guts, and now the little parrot of a child that follows us around has picked up the phrase.) She then told me I was awesome, and I just held her. I told her I talk about her at school to the big kids and show off her picture. I also mentioned that I missed her during the day, but mostly, we just enjoyed being together. I enjoyed holding her, and she enjoyed being held.
As I was holding her, I remembered my own father telling me that I would never understand a father’s love until I had children of my own. I have discovered that he was right, but that there was more to what he was saying than he realized. I never understood God’s love for His children until I had a child.
You see, as I was holding Jordyn, I realized that God smiles when one of His children wants to cuddle before bed. I realized that God wants me to sit in His lap and tell Him my fears so He can reassure me. He wants to hear my worries so that He can remind me that they are silly. He wants to hold me and remind me that I am deeply loved and cherished by Him. He wants to remind me that He thinks of me constantly throughout His day. Most of all, I think He just wants to be with me.
I am sharing this with you because I wanted to share with you what my 2-year-old taught me. I am sharing this with you because I hope that you, too, will crawl up in the lap of the God we can call Abba, or Daddy, because He has given all those who believe the right to be called children of God. I am sharing this with you because I wanted you to know that if you are looking for me any time between now and bedtime, I am going to be doing what Jordyn was just doing … cuddling in the arms of my Father.[Blair J. Andress is a husband, a dad, a youth minister, a writer, a reader and many other things.He lives with his bride and two daughters in Montgomery, Ala., where he is trying to learn to do all of these things with excellence …or at least with a little less mediocrity.]