My original plan for this was to have Lindsay write a portion of this post but she is in bed and we can save that for next week, as this is all very fresh in her mind still.
Way back in the article where I talked about Lindsay saving me I neglected to mention a large part of the equation that saved me. Finding someone who ran an in-home daycare was something that didn’t really resonate at the time as a significant event. It didn’t seem to be something that was going to be a huge tool in saving me at the time but my oversight is almost unbelievable now.
I’m going to start this post out with a quote, as I presume that what I am going to write in the coming paragraphs will be very emotional, I’ll stop quite a few times while trying to find the words and I know that I will fall short at describing the totality of the profound impact these kids have had on my life but I’ll do my best.
In Matthew 18, verses 2-6 Jesus speaks some very powerful words about children.
He called a little child and had him stand among them.
3And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5“And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.
6But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Powerful words, right? That last sentence there makes it pretty clear that Jesus took teaching sin or harming children in any way to be one of the gravest things you can do, in fact He says you’d be better to “dig” your grave in the depths of the sea than to face Him after harming a child or teaching them sin. The single most powerful thing I take from these verses is “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Again, Jesus chose to not mince his words here, stating very clearly that if you wanted to enter His kingdom, you had to display the makeup of but a small child.
Kids enjoying sno-cones at our daycare closing party.
This is where His message ties into my story. Jesus hinted at the purity of a child and that’s probably the single most awe-inspiring thing I’ve learned during my time with being around the daycare.
A child does not know hate. They don’t know what racism is. They don’t judge or belittle. They don’t know about violence or terrorism. They don’t know any of the other horrible qualities that are destroying our society daily. THEY ONLY KNOW LOVE.
It true. I lived in and saw that on a daily basis. New parents (or veterans, for that matter) have talked about how one look from your child’s eyes can figuratively melt away any other worries or frustrations you have in your life and they are absolutely right. Before I was around the daycare I had always said I wanted children. In fact, I had babysit before, I was great with kids but I had never really EXPERIENCED a child first hand for any significant amount of time. I didn’t get to see them “grow” the way I did with the daycare. What I didn’t know was happening parallelly with their growth was my own. I met Lindsay at a low point in my life, lost and misguided when it came to my career and I was unstable at best with the rest of my life. I had come back from a successful career in the military and was somewhat lost, knowing I had the talent and intelligence to succeed but not knowing how to put it all together to make it work. Lindsay helped re-center myself and put the focus back in the right areas of my life but I do attribute a small and significant portion of the personality and morals I have today to the 21 minions we had running all over our house and hearts.
Some of the activities from the party.
A child and a dog are the only two beings in life that I’ve come across that can so profoundly impact you while being inaudible. The love, purity and innocence that pours out of them is incredibly humbling and inspires you to be a better person. I remember changing what was probably one of my first diapers in life-like it was yesterday. Brooks lay on the changing table and I grabbed one of the diapers from his designated cubby by the door of the room the changing table was in. I felt like a Gladiator about to go to battle when I turned around, “you can do this, it’s only a diaper and it’s only poop” ran through my mind as I proudly walked toward Brooks-man, as I like to call him. I unbuttoned his onesie and then unstrapped his diaper and pulled it down and “DEAR SWEET JESUS, WHAT IS THAT? HOW DOES SUCH A SMALL HUMAN DO THAT?!” Haha I’m pretty sure my stomach turned, my eyes watered, my head exploded and I started sweating all at once. I’d never approached a poopy diaper before and after changing many diapers since, I still contend that was one of the worst! I was reeling, not sure I could complete the task at hand and then he started to roll on me like kids like to do. I’m pretty sure I grew 4 arms instantly and grabbed both of his ankles (one foot had gotten poop on it at this point), rolled him onto his back again, slid the dirty diaper out of reach of his extremities and proceeded to attempt to get wipes out. Being a rookie, I had left the wipes closed and so I had to release him again to get it open and pull some wipes out. “HOW DO YOU ROLL SO FAST AND HOW IS THERE POOP EVERYWHERE, KID?!” I corralled him again and got him to lie on this back as I cleaned up the mess. I went from being in shock to frustrated to angry but then something magical happened. I looked up and saw his smiling face and the murder scene that he just created for me to clean up, yeah, it was gone from my mind and memory. All the struggle that he gave me, while it humbled me, didn’t do to me as much as that one little smile did. I stood there for a minute after I had him all cleaned up and ready to go back into the play room and had a moment with him just coo-ing and laughing and smiling at me. Children only know love and they love to shower you in it if you learn to harbor that and then if you’re lucky enough, you find a way to grow it.
There have been countless stories like the above that are running through my mind and I simply don’t have the time to talk about them all but I can talk about what they have taught me. I’ve learned what true, unconditional love is. They have taught me to slow down and enjoy life. Have you ever seen a child pick up a new toy or a bug, full of inquisitive thoughts and look up at you with an ear to ear smile, ready to show you their bounty and ask you 5,325,937 questions about said object? It’s pretty awesome and you should find a way to see it because if you live in that moment with them and feel the excitement they feel, your life will change. They taught me to enjoy those moments with them, to notice all of God’s beautiful creations that are littered all around us but we neglect to see out of negligence to living in the small moments of life.
They taught me to be strong, to laugh at the silly things, to be a princess without a care who sees it, to be a super hero, to be a jungle gym for them to see how many can climb on at once, to have patience, to share, to cry, to remember that family always comes first, what it means to be a friend, to take naps, to have an imagination again, to dream higher than you think you ever could, to put priority on things that matter most to you, to learn the lines from every Disney movie ever, to sing the stupid theme songs to kids shows without shame, to remember it’s important to take ‘field trips’, to go on vacations, to build forts, to remember that snow can be fun, to remember to give small gestures of love to your loved ones regularly, frankly, this list could go on and on but I’m going to stop to save time. I’m definitely not stopping because I’m writing with a frog in my throat, eyes welled full and a few tears on the table…
I’m going to miss being the Hulk for 15 minutes and then transitioning to a tea party or being the coolest dude ever for building them a kick-ass fort. I’ll miss their silly obsession with reminding me to “Pick up the dog poop, it’s everywhere” or their fascination with me teaching them new things. They loved to take part in my projects (when safe for them to do so) and I would include them as much as I could. Sure, sometimes that meant doing things 10 times so each kids could take part in the project, but I didn’t mind…it took me back to when I was a kid and was fascinated with my Dad’s knowledge and the lessons he taught me with these same projects. There’s so much I’m going to miss but thank the Lord, I have a little miracle on the way that can restore my status of coolest guy ever in a few months.
I feel like I’ve said a lot but said nothing at the same time. Ha! Bottom line, these kids have had an unbelievable impact on my life and who I am today and I couldn’t be more thankful that I found Lindsay and she invited me along on this crazy journey.
Dominic, Claire, Brookey, Cayla, Max, Liam, Caroline, Brooks, Adelaide, Brady, Brynlee, Jonathan, Gwen, Sophia, Owen, Kylee and the 5 other children we had briefly during my time with the daycare; thank you for playing a part in saving me. 🙂
If I can feel so full of love for these kiddos, I’m eager to learn the love I’ll feel for baby Joey when he gets here. Life is a blessing and we can learn a lot from the little things in life, including the littlest people in our lives. 😀 All this talk about kids has put me back in “Daddy Mode”, I’m ready for my little minion to get here already!
All the kiddos and Lindsay during the party. Gonna miss these goobers.