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Longing for the self-assurance of a 3-year-old

April 16, 2009 - Betsy Bethel
At 10 months old when my daughter was taking her first steps, it appeared she already was certain about who she was, where she was headed and how to get there. Her determination was palpable.

At age three, her constant unbridled enthusiasm for her life — or, more aptly, her self — astounds me. New experiences thrill her. She rarely hears music without dancing to it. She sings made-up songs of nonsense words or hums to herself while playing, taking a bath, going to the potty — pretty much all the time. She loves her body and relishes the few moments a day she gets to play "naked girl"! She loves studying her reflection.

She is totally honest, and she believes everything you tell her.

She already has better sense than most people, and by that I mean she is practical. For example, when she knows a frightening scene is coming in a movie, she simply bolts from the room until it is over. She believes everything is better with milk, so at one time or another she'll dunk anything she is eating in it. But when it comes to cereal, if we're out of milk, water will do.

These are not things she has learned from her parents, grandparents or caregivers.

She does not understand yet who God is or the abstract notion of Jesus "living in your heart." But it is obvious to me that she knows God and Jesus intimately, that the Holy Spirit surrounds her if it does not already indwell her. I see it in her eyes when she sings "Jesus Loves the Little Children." I see it in the way her wound-up little body releases its tension as I sing "God Is So Good" or "Amazing Grace" at bedtime (it's not the same when I sing other lullabies).

This is by no means a post about how perfect my daughter is, for she is as far from perfect as I or any human is.

I guess I'm just trying to express my fascination with and, dare I admit, envy of her personhood, her wholeness, her confidence.

I'm almost 36, and I wonder if I ever was as self-assured as Emma.

 
 

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