July 9th, 2009
I don’t necessarily remember that exact time that it happened, but when Sadie began turning on the smiles, life changed around the Driver household . . . yet again. That little toothless grin turned me into Daddy-fondue . . . cheesy, melted, and ready for finger-wrapping.
Baby-smiling isn’t as simple of a concept as you might think. An untested parent, such as myself, will assume that once said baby has the ability to smile that she will commence with said smiling at any and all opportune times. Ah, my friend, nothing could be further from the truth! Babies are the masters of their own smiling universes and the domain is tightly controlled by their fickle little whims.
But don’t tell me that! I’m Daddy and I am more stubborn than any baby can ever be! Thus, the first days of smiling turned me into Ray Ray, The Idiot Circus Boy. I made every face, expression, and noise possible in attempts to induce a grin from Sadie. No amount of contortion . . . no unnatural movement of my facial features . . . no number of belly-blowings or “zerberts” were too much for me. Smiles became my drug and I awkwardly danced around like Pinocchio to get my fix.
But there were plenty of times that my efforts were completely fruitless and Sadie would withhold her treasures of expression from us no matter how ridiculously stupid Daddy looked or sounded at the moment. There are moments in life when you step outside yourself and take a look at the big picture only to realize that you’re hopping on one foot while sticking your thumbs in your ears while smacking yourself in the face with your remaining free fingers while making raspberry noises with your mouth . . . and your baby is looking at you exactly the way you deserve to be looked at . . . like you’re an idiot.
At these unexpected moments of parental actualization, one must ponder the question: who is really in charge here? The baby who refuses to smile or the parent who is dancing around like a wild banshee?
However, I did find one particular variable early on that seemed to do the trick as far as getting smiles from the munchkin: the changing table. Before I was a parent, I really didn’t think about the idea that you needed a special piece of furniture as a location to change diapers, put on lotion, brush little hairs, or put on clothes. The changing table is a furniture addition exclusive to the households that have children.
For whatever reason, Sadie loved being laid down on the changing table. Her eyes would light up and the smiles would be dispensed liberally with very little “stupid-trick” currency required. In fact, there were days that Laura and I would stay at the changing table for twenty or thirty minutes at a time just because Sadie seemed to enjoy her time there so much.
I suppose it had to do with positioning or a decrease in outside distractions. Maybe it was a pavlovian effect from the fact that she always felt cleaner and more refreshed when she left the changing table than when she was first laid down there. Who knows? All I know is that table became a favorite destination for us in the early days of infancy.
Later on, Sadie became less fond of lying on the changing table. In fact, sometimes she would cry just walking towards it. This only happened after she was more mobile and was interested in exploring every minute facet of our home . . . especially the dog’s food and water bowls. I lamented losing our time there, but I suppose that’s the way it goes.
I think that we’re the same way with our heavenly Father. In the infancy of our faith, we are delighted to be “changed” by Him. In all reality, what happens at the changing table is messy and gross. It’s the caretaker cleaning up the one who can’t care for herself. However, the parent is more than overjoyed to do it and the baby is more than overjoyed to simply allow herself to be cleaned and cared for.
But as we get older, we become less fond of our time on the table. We have too many other things pulling at us and clamoring for our attention. We forget that we still have things that need to be cleansed, but we’re so busy exploring the boundaries of our little worlds that we resent stopping for just a few moments to again allow the Father to make us clean and ready.
Romans 12: 2 (NLT) reveals these truths, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (emphasis mine)
Good. Pleasing. Perfect. Sounds like an enjoyable experience to me.
The place of allowing God to change us should be a location of utter joy in our lives. I pray that I may become childlike again in this respect . . . that I may again anticipate and even long for the moments when the distractions of my life’s pursuits are paused and my Father tends to changes that are needed in me. It should be a daily occurrence . . . if not an hour-by-hour necessity of life. Only He can change us, but only we can offer ourselves to His table.
Father, take me back to the changing table because it is my delight to be with You and to be transformed by You.
Hey, try smiling the next time that God reaches for you. The gross part is His; you have nothing to lose but nastiness.