Early one morning, my sweet son-in-law, Jeremy, was trying to get the lowdown on sports scores before the day got rolling. I understand this completely–my husband is an indiscriminate sports spectator. Life is good if Sports Center is immediately accessible. Soccer, fantasy football, Super Bowl, World Series–all are fuel for conversation at our house. So having sports on is not an uncommon experience.
But this particular morning, two-year-old Isley wasn’t going to have any of it. She was eating her yogurt, looked up and said, “Baby don’t like that.”
Not believing what she’d heard, Heather had her repeat it. Without blinking an eye, Isley said, “Baby don’t like that.”
I’ve never heard Isley refer to herself in the third person. And as adamant as she is about not being a baby, this comment came as a surprise. A funny surprise. We all laughed about it, and since Heather was able to capture some of it on video, family members near and far were able to chuckle with us. Because we talk about it, she continues to use the formula, reminding us just yesterday that “Baby likes ice cream.” She stands firm on the fact that she’s not a baby, but this is different. This is relating.
What’s intriguing about all this is that Isley is figuring out what works. How to get people to respond to her. How to cause people to laugh, to smile, to engage. She smiles and waves at strangers in line at the grocery store. She hugs the little girl playing on the slide with her, helping her learn how to climb up, even though the other little girl is older.
She gets it. She gets that people need people, just like that old Barbra Streisand song. When I’m with her, I’m amazed at how easily she connects with others. She’s not old enough to be afraid of what others think. She’s not been hurt to the point of being hesitant around others. She’s not guarded with what she says or does–which isn’t always the best. But she’s herself, without guile, without pretense. And that is so very refreshing.
I see it in all my grandkids. They say what they mean, they are who they are. Of course, as they get older, they learn that people are sometimes hurtful. They learn to be more guarded and less free about what they say and do. They learn how to make it in this world.
There’s a reason Jesus said we need to become like children when we come to Him. Unguarded and free with Him; honest and genuine, telling Him exactly the way it is. Not questioning His love or His power but believing He is who He says He is. Engaging with Him, sharing life with Him, treating Him as our best friend. No hang ups, no smoke screens, no excuses. I want to be that child, that open, not hiding, just laying all my cards–all of me–on the table. Every day.
Baby really likes that.