A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend a week with my niece Bubba and her family. Her family currently consists her husband – S, their three year old son- Lil B (who will turn four next month), their two year old daughter – Lil K (who was one week away from her 2nd birthday during my visit), and their son – H who, if he follows his siblings’ trend of being born before their due date, will be born in December. A cute little family and I had a fun time. The soon-to-be two year old taught me a valuable lesson and made me realize that sometimes we adults still might act like overgrown toddlers.
Let me set this up for you so that you’ll understand. Lil K, has always been perceptive and a quick study. Her eyes are as big as her momma’s and they search and observe. When she needs some love she holds up her arms and asks “hold you?” When you sneeze, she coos “bless you.” It is endearing and downright adorable.
Bubba and S had to travel to Utah to get an ultrasound and check on their unborn son. Since I was visiting them at the time, I went with them. I sat in the back of the van behind the two car seats so my view was the back of everyone’s heads. For three hours. Lil K started to grow restless so I stretched my hand to her and she held onto my fingers for a few minutes. I couldn’t see her but I could feel her little hand. It was a tender moment.
The next day while Bubba and S went to see the doctor, I took Lil B and Lil K to the zoo. We spent a few hours there wandering around, getting ice-cream, and playing in the playground and water pad. Hopefully, building positive memories. Not that I expect them to remember but after a few similar outings they will at least know that Aunt C is a friend.
On the way back to their home we stopped at the Salt Flats. If you have ever been in that area then you know it is just like it sounds. A big, flat area filled with salt. We stopped and stretched at the rest stop there. The kids and the dog, of course, ran out onto the flats.
Their parents called them back so that we could keep going. Lil B walked with his mom while Lil K and I walked behind them. She saw her brother go for the foot wash area and heard their mom tell him not to turn on the water. Bubba didn’t want him to get wet since we were leaving and it was getting dark anyway. The point is, Lil K and I both saw Bubba and Lil B’s interaction at the foot wash area. We saw and heard her tell him not to turn on the water. As soon as Bubba and Lil B walked away from the foot wash area Lil K ran right to it and started to turn on the water. I can’t say what was going on in her mind. Maybe she thought she’d be the hero if she got to do something big brother couldn’t do. Maybe she just wanted to test her mom. At any rate, I was close enough I snatched her away from it just as she turned it on.
Lil K became very upset that I foiled her plan. And if you know what happens when a toddler gets upset then you can imagine how the scene unfolded.
She screamed. She tightened her body. She yelled “DOWN!”
The whole afternoon of building positive memories with her went down the drain with the water in the foot wash all in a matter of seconds.
I put her down and she gave me what can only be described as the equivalent of a two year old’s death stare. Suddenly I became her least favorite person she had ever known in her entire 24 month existence on this earth.
She did not forgive quickly either. A couple more dirty looks were sent my way before we got back to the van. When she became restless again a few miles down the road she refused to take my hand and batted it away while proclaiming “NO!”
Finally, I was able to appease her with photos from the zoo and we looked at the animals. But that didn’t occur until we were nearly back to their place again.
Here’s the lesson I learned. I only intervened to keep her out of trouble. Unlike her, I took her mother’s warning to her brother seriously and understood the ramifications. I also wanted to help her tired mother so that Bubba could have a little rest. In short, I was not only trying to help Lil K stay out of trouble but I was trying to help Bubba as well. My intentions were good because I could see the bigger picture.
But Lil K didn’t see that. She saw me as someone who upset her apple cart and she was not happy.
Sometimes I might act a little like that toddler. When I’m tired. When I can’t see the big picture. When I want it my way. And something comes along and thwarts my best laid plans. It’s difficult even as an adult to step back and look up and say, “I don’t know why that happened at the moment, but I know it was you, God. I trust you on this.” Instead of throwing a tantrum I need to be grateful for the angelic reprieve.
It’s a lesson I’m still working on.