Monthly Archives: January 2010

"The Child is Father of the Man"

“The Child is Father of the Man”

Lisa and Maria are both verbal types, and they both married mechanically inclined men who like their big boy toys—but what fascinating and different little people Tommy and Tina are!

Tommy and I love to read stories, and one of his current favorites is the Disney classic The Fox and the Hound. It’s a longish story for a just-turned-three-year-old, but I summarize it rather than read every word and Tommy likes to hear it again and again. We also build—and destroy—towers with his blocks. I hide and leap out at him from behind corners, sending him shrieking and laughing down the hallway. And we play verbal games. Eyes bright with challenge, he calls me “Mommy.” Not to be outdone, I call him “Uncle Richard.” Or I tell him Grandpa’s working. “No, Grandpa’s not working,” Tommy sneers, a mischievous grin reminding me that this is a game. “He’s sleeping!” “Don’t you tell me Grandpa’s not working!” comes my menacing reply . . . and on and on we go.

Tommy remembers being naughty two months ago, and still talks about the consequences. An analytical little boy, he remembers past events and ponders their significance. Tommy knows he’s not supposed to swear, and he’s working at understanding what is and isn’t swearing.

When he tells me a lady is fat, I say he shouldn’t say that. “Is she thin?” he asks. Tommy is learning that lying is wrong, so if he’s not supposed to lie, and if he’s not supposed to say the lady is fat, does that mean she’s thin?

“The Child is father of the man,” said poet William Wordsmith. And what sort of man will Tommy be?

In my next post, I’ll tell you what I think about that, and I’ll also tell you how different my days are with Tina.

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“I’m going to make macaroni and put you to bed and read you the mother book!”

“I’m going to make macaroni and put you to bed and read you the mother book!” announces Tommy with an impish grin. We had so much fun “yesterday,” Tommy’s word for any time in the past. . . .

We’d come home ravenous. Tommy had wolfed down his macaroni, served himself more, and pleaded, “Don’t let it all gone!” when Auntie and I helped ourselves. And then it was storytime before sleep, one of my absolute favorite times. We covered our legs with his duckie blanket and read one of Tommy’s favorite stories, Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. We stroked the frightened baby bird and assured him he would find his mommy, and rejoiced with him when she came back.

Another of our favorites is the “Baby Jesus book,” the 1952 Little Golden Book The Christmas Story that Maria and Lisa enjoyed when they were little. Tommy especially likes the bad king page, and marvels that the bad king tried to kill Baby Jesus with a sword, but he couldn’t. He finds that exciting, although he still can’t grasp why the bad king wanted to kill the Baby. He likes the last page, which shows a little boy Jesus holding a lamb. It reassures him that the bad king’s plan failed. We pat the lamb and say Jesus was kind to it.

Tommy’s announcement that he’s going to make macaroni, put me to bed, and read me the mother book reminds me of Christ’s command to do for others what we would have them do for us (Matthew 7:12). If we all did this, war, crime and famine would cease. But another thought comes to me: The way I treat others often determines the way they will treat me—and treat others in the future. Thank you, Tommy.