Thursday, September 03, 2009

Loving What I Love

I knew before I got pregnant that I wanted to do a gender-neutral nursery with a safari animals theme. For some reason, I love elephants and giraffes and lions—I think they’re beautiful animals, and I figured they would make perfect d├ęcor for a child's room.

What I didn’t anticipate was the way my son would love what I love.

We never worked very hard on sign language, but Elijah has learned a few signs, and one of his very first ones was "elephant." I'm guessing that's an unusual first word for a toddler, but I know why it happened. When I chose ten signs to start with (following this book’s philosophy), “elephant” was one of them. Every time we saw a picture of an elephant, I made a point to do the sign. After several months, I had all but given up—until one day, to my surprise, Elijah threw his arm up in the air, and I realized he was deliberately referring to an elephant.

Now that he’s talking more and more, Elijah is constantly surprising me with a new animal he knows--today it was zebra. For some animals, he says the name; for others, he makes the noise (or tries--Steve and I find his impersonation of a rooster endlessly funny). Lately his favorite thing to do has been to find a book with animals in it and bring it to wherever I am. He'll plop down in the middle of the kitchen floor, flip to a page with an animal he knows, and then repeat the word or the noise as many times as he has to until I acknowledge, "Yes, elephant! That's right!" It amazes me how he can recognize so many different pictures of elephants--from a photograph, to a Dr. Seuss cartoon, to a more abstract Eric Carle drawing.

Elijah's tastes may change—he’s only two. But I am struck by the realization that he is interested in what he has been exposed to. His attention is drawn to certain things because I have casually pointed them out to him for two years. He has seen lions and giraffes and elephants and zebras over and over, and so he talks about them. He gets excited about them.

It’s a sobering realization for me. I guess I never thought about the power I would have as a mother to shape my son’s interests so significantly. I know I cannot force him to enjoy what I enjoy—nor would I want to, in matters of personal taste or skills or gifts. I won’t be disappointed or offended if he determines in five or ten years that cars are much more fascinating than lions.

But I’ve been pondering the fact that as Elijah grows up under my influence, he will be profoundly affected by what I love. He will notice what I look for and focus on, what I read and talk about, what excites me. He will be curious about what interests me and brings me joy.

So what do I love? Not “what do I say I love?”, but what captures my attention? What do I talk about most? What makes me happy and energizes me?

I am praying that more and more, my heart will be captivated by “the glory of the happy God”--and that as my young son sees me delighting in, hoping in, trusting in, and loving Him, Elijah will himself be drawn to and excited about the Savior who so captivates me.


lydia said...

This made me cry. I want to love Christ in such an evident way too!

Anonymous said...

You should see this print !

Kristin said...

One of William's first animals was moose. You can tell his parents are from Maine!