Every night before bedtime, we pull out a toddler Bible to read. For as much as I want to instill good habits in Brady and Halle, I often get concerned about things just becoming routine and meaningless.
Last night, Brady proved my fears to be unwarranted. As I’m grabbing the Bible, he chimed in excitedly.
“I love the Bible!”
I applauded him, letting him know how wonderful that is, and that I love the Bible, too.
“And I love Jesus in the Bible.”
Sweet! On top of him loving Jesus, it sounds like there might be more than one Jesus that he feels the need to clarify the biblical Jesus. Of course, I don’t expect he knows that other Jesus’s today are usually called “hay-zeus” and not “gee-zuss”.
“And I love everyone in the Bible.”
Well, now that’s painting a broad stroke. Perhaps we’ll wait a little while before we start talking about Pharaoh and Herod and Judas. But, God certainly loves those people, and I wouldn’t put it past Brady to really mean everyone, including the bad guys.
As always, it’s hard not to wonder what’s really going on in a child’s mind, but I can only pray and strive to have his same enthusiasm for God’s Word.
Brady has never been a very good sleeper. It has taken quite a bit of work to get him into his own room regularly, and even still, he rarely stays there the entire night. One of the things that gives him comfort is for me to check on him – something started by me to encourage him that he’d be okay, but which has now become a ritual for him.
Every night, he reminds me, “Check on me in 1 (or 2 or 4) minutes.” I confirm the reservation every night. I’m recently trying to get him to realize he doesn’t need to remind me; that I always check on him.
He has also added my routine to his schedule, apparently growing more aware of what I do after he and his sister go to bed. After marking my mental calendar with his 1-minute-later checkup, he plainly tells me to watch a movie: “A bad one, but not too bad.” He apparently also understands that I watch movies that are not appropriate for him or Halle, but that there are movies even I (or anyone) shouldn’t watch. I wasn’t sure my explanation to him hit home when I tried to tell him that there are some people who don’t believe in God like we do and they don’t think “little eyes [need to] be careful what [they] see.”
So, with that, I better stick to my duties and close my computer and go watch a movie that’s not too bad.
I live on a street and in a city that doesn’t exactly tend toward the younger demographic, so I can’t say that I was surprised to see an ambulance just across the street this evening. What did surprise me was the response I had and also what my kids ended up saying.
I was immediately contemplative. That’s my new favorite word because it’s not accurate to say I’m sad, but I’m certainly thinking — deeply. I’ve seen ambulances on the road since October (and pray for the person and their family every time I do), but this is the first I’ve seen one parked on my street. It really hit close to home (pun intended). In less than a year, three times I had seen those lights flashing in my driveway as I struggled to make sense of what was happening at the time. I couldn’t help but anguish to see them again, even though it wasn’t for us this time.
Was it the same men across the street who so feverishly tried to help my wife? Would they remember me or my wife or my house if they looked over and saw me standing in the doorway tonight? I certainly wouldn’t know any of those faces in a crowd. I can’t imagine what it must be for them to have those possible reminders of what they witness in their line of work. “This is the street/That’s the house where such-and-such happened.”
Brady was awake and aware of the first two visits we had, so he also knows the ambulance in the driveway, and he thought about Mommy tonight, too. I’m not sure what he or I said that inspired Halle, but she somehow got excited thinking “Mommy come home!” No, Dear, she’s not coming home. She went “Home,” but she’s never returning home to us. And once again, I was reminded that it’s harder for me on their behalf that their mom is dead than it is for them that their mom is dead. And it crushed me that Halle was thinking about her coming home, even if she doesn’t really understand what she’s saying.
Thank God for the ambulance and the paramedics who help so many people.
Happy 4th Birthday, Brady Chase!
You are such an amazing little boy, Sweetheart, and this day is always a special day to your mommy and I. Ever since Mommy was a little girl, all she wanted was to be a wife and a mommy. And ever since I was a little boy, I only wanted to be a husband and a daddy. We anxiously awaited your arrival all our lives. When you came, you brought those dreams into our lives, and you didn’t come a minute too soon.
You make me so proud every day. You are considerate and always saying “please” and “thank you” and you love people so much. Any time someone is sad, you are the first one there to give sweet cuddles and tell them it will be okay. You don’t know it now, but you have strength and wisdom well beyond your four years.
I love the way you care about Halle and are so often trying to help her or help out with her. You’re an incredible big brother to her. It’s no wonder why she loves you so much and looks up to you and imitates you. I know the two of you will have such a strong relationship throughout your entire lives.
You are not only tender, but also strong, and I pray that you never lose that about yourself. I am so proud that you carry my name (plus a “y”), and I hope that you will always chase after God all of your life.
Mommy and I love you so very much. I can’t wait to see how you grow each and every year. Happy Birthday, Bean!
No, I don’t mean “Santa’s…”. I speak of my son once again. He still continues to amaze me. Last night, while I was up in the late hours trying to stuff my Christmas cards, he woke up with a coughing fit. I suspect his allergies are yet again to blame, but that’s besides the point. After some cuddles, he asked for juice and eventually an apple, which I peeled and cut up for him, leaving the peel, peeler and core in the sink. I was pretty tired by this point and laid down with him on the couch, falling asleep pretty quickly as long as his coughing wasn’t keeping me up. He asked for an orange at some point, but I must have fallen back asleep and not gotten it for him. I don’t know how long he was up, but it was at least a couple hours before we moved off the couch.
This morning, I made my way into the kitchen to notice the step-stool by the sink. Peering in, none of the peels were there and I found the peeler put away looking clean. In the living room, there was an orange with one or two missing pieces along with little chunks of its peel on the table. His pajama pants were on the floor. When he woke up, I asked him about it. He did, in fact, clean the peeler, wash the apple peels down the drain and peel himself an orange by hand. While cleaning, he apparently got water on his pajamas and needed to change them, so he did that as well. Now, he’s my firstborn, so I don’t know when kids learn these things, but this sounds to me like something that you pray that your six-year-old might do if you ask him, let alone of his own volition. Brady, on the other hand, is always trying to help. Most of his sister’s anger towards him is because he is taking something from her that she is not supposed to have or that could hurt her. He’s usually trying to protect her and help me.
I know this is entirely how God made Brady. And I don’t think the timeline for him doing these things is simply because Stephanie is gone. I am thankful to God for that timeline and that Brady is such a sweetheart to know that it would be helpful to me. I thank God for who He made Brady to be. And I am just so proud of that little boy and thankful to God for all His wonderful blessings. I’m sorry if this comes across as bragging, but so be it. I just had to brag on my kid.
I am amazed at how smart my little man is. Last night, after Halle went to sleep, he wanted to play this game of Cranium that he got in his meal at Chick-Fil-A (it was miniature and not as full-featured). I had to modify it since he can’t read quite yet, so many of the tasks had me drawing or acting out things for him to guess. He guessed correctly almost everything I did – from castle and treasure map to hot air balloon and baby. The best part, though, was when he got off the couch and told me it was his turn. He “acted” out a Buzz Lightyear space helmet after telling me, “This a really hard one to do.” He proceeded to use his hands to draw in the air or indicate the shape of things in order for me to guess what he was doing. What most impressed me was his patience. Brady has always gotten frustrated and started crying when someone doesn’t understand what he’s saying to them. Stephanie worked with him a lot in order to get him to explain what he meant or show us what he wanted, and he’s gotten much better with that, but he still has his moments. I was so happy that he understood well enough to know that it was okay for me to guess a bunch of times until I figured out what he was acting out.
Next, he wanted me to play dead so that he could be a doctor and make me feel better. (I was uneasy that he suggested this at first, but I can’t help but hope that this is healthy for him, that he understands playing dead and understands that doctors can make people feel better in most cases.) He showed me how to do it – you have to stick out your tongue from the side of your mouth a little bit – and he ran and got his doctor kit. He knew how to use every last tool, which is a credit to how much Stephanie played with him. Nonetheless, I was impressed by it all. He gave me a couple shots and told me that some people are scared of those. It was so much fun to see him go back and forth from his tools to me and to use them all in order to make me feel better. He even went back to his room one time and came back out with sunglasses on. I’m not sure why he did that, but he was certainly a stylin’ doctor. After I felt better, I got to be the doctor.
There have been many nights over the past couple weeks where I have been completely wiped out at the end of the day. I resent my actions on those nights because I am often not very compassionate towards Brady, especially if he is not falling asleep so I can get some time to myself. Last night was so refreshing, and I’m so thankful to God that I had energy left to play with Brady even though it was late. And I’m so glad for how much fun he was having and that he and I really had some good times together. He really amazes me, and it did me a lot of good to be able to appreciate that.
Photographs were a big deal to Stephanie. They were so important, in fact, that her “push present” for having Halle was family pictures, and that was all she wanted. Thanks to a friend of ours, we have some beautiful pictures from that time. I’m so glad for her always working for us to take and have lots of pictures because now I have so many memories to look back on during our life together.
I keep finding reason to revisit our collection of pictures. Usually, it’s to remember how Stephanie put the house together for things such as Christmas. Unfortunately, I find it absolutely gut-wrenching as I scan through the images of her. I always think that this will be the time that it won’t crush me, but I’m always wrong. I often end up finding something that I didn’t even remember. For instance, last night I found some images that she used for birthday/Christmas gift projects she made for me. It was great to see those things again and remember, but it also ripped out my heart as it always does, to be reminded that it’s all over.
But pictures were always important to her. When everything first happened, I had no intention of sending out Christmas cards this year because I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing just three of us in the picture. But, soon after, I realized how much I wanted to do those things we’ve always done even as painful as it would be. And, I don’t want to lack pictures from this year because of my grief; that would just cause me more grief years down the road. So, today I had that same friend I mentioned earlier come over to take pictures of me and the kids. Some of the pictures even included a framed photograph of Stephanie. Sending out Christmas cards this year is also kind of my way to praise God for His faithfulness through all of this. I would be giving in to defeat – even if in some small way – to not do something we’ve always done and something in which Stephanie always took great joy. And she always took great joy in our family and sending out that picture to show how good God has been to us. I don’t want this year to be any different.
As hard as things can be with the kids, they of course make life an absolute joy, as well.
Brady is the sweetest little boy ever, and he has such incredible compassion and always has. He always knew how to be good for Stephanie when she wasn’t feeling well and he would cuddle her and tell her it was okay. He’s doing the same for me. I mentioned in my previous post that I suggested we watch a movie and eat popcorn, then started crying soon after. While still in the bath, he put his hand on my arm and gently rubbed up and down in order to comfort me. After getting out and while I was cleaning Halle, he gave me a great big long hug from behind and told me how much he loved me. He also constantly reminds me that he loves me and Mommy and Halle (and sometimes even the dogs). And he affirms that “Daddy’s the best and Mommy’s the best and Brady’s the best and Halle’s the best. We’re all the best.” Like I said, he’s such a sweetheart.
One morning this past week, he had grabbed a framed photo off of Stephanie’s dresser before I got out of bed. It was a picture of her and I from our honeymoon. I didn’t realize he had taken it until I came out to find that it was properly standing up on the couch where he was playing. He told me that he wanted it there because he missed Mommy. That borders on being one of the hardest things, but it’s good to me to know that he understands as much as can be expected (and then some).
And then there is Halle. She is just like her mother in so many ways. One of those ways is that when she is in a good mood, it bursts forth out of her like sunshine and you can’t help but end up in a good mood just watching her. My baby girl can make me laugh so hard just from watching her bounce around so happily. She babbles excitedly and has such personality and always knows what she wants. It’s a great deal of fun to ask her questions just to see her shake her head with conviction either yes or no.
And I know that God loves these little children so much. For all the grace I feel that He has given to me, it is exponentially greater towards them. I thank Him for that. And I thank Him for the best two things in my life: Brady and Halle.
I’m finding that almost everything I know to do with my kids is because of what their mother knew about them and did with them. I know how much my kids loved those things and don’t want them to stop by any means.
One thing we would do after Halle went to bed was to pop some popcorn and put on a movie that Brady could watch and the three of us would cuddle on the couch and watch. One night last week, I told Brady during their bath that we could do that if he wanted. He was very excited and couldn’t wait. As soon as I mentioned the idea, though, I started crying quite a bit. It ached to think of the times we all did that together and how we can’t have that again.
Something else the kids love and I was sure to do last week because of good weather was to go to the zoo. Stephanie loves animals, and was so glad to get a zoo pass last Christmas for this year. (Sadly, due to the seizures, she was never allowed to drive and couldn’t go nearly as many times as she wanted.) Again, I knew the kids would love to go and thought it would be good for all of us to get out. I guess it’s good that I didn’t realize beforehand just how painful it would be to be there. Otherwise, I might have been tempted not to go at all. I almost kept expecting to see her walking next to me every time I looked over.
I’m sure these moments will continue. Stephanie always would do those things that the kids loved, even if she wasn’t up to it. It’s easy to remember what the kids enjoy. It’s not until after I start those activities that I realize how painful it is for me. What makes them “the worst things” is because I’m not going to stop just because it’s hard for me, and it’s a mixture of enjoyment I get for my kids along with the pain it is for me.