There is just something about Braxton. It is as if God wrapped him up, him and his curiosity, his independent thinking, his exuberance, his passion, his affection, his sensitivity, his imagination. God mixed up the most complex yet the most simple concoction. He wrapped him up inside of me like a gift and gave me what I never knew I needed and what I never expected. And every day He gives me more. There is so much to this kid, so much to learn and understand. There are so many complexities and contradictions. Yet I find myself immersed in them. Somehow amidst it all, he is simple to me. He hides nothing, leaves nothing for me to guess. He is direct. He is profound. He is a fable, a mystery, a poem in which I find myself lost in the lines of it, despite knowing the rhyme. No one confounds me like B. No one reaches me like he does. He is the simplest complexity, the sweetest contradiction. And oh, how my cup overflows with this kid, this void-filler, this one who doesn’t stop until you are full and spilling over the edges of yourself, with love and joy and emotions- brimming and flowing to fill up the spaces you never knew were there.
And God is teaching me to learn from his vigor, to strengthen my will, to bridle my emotions and let them pour out like a pitcher to where there is thirst.
And I am learning to allow myself to melt into a puddle in front of him, still, quiet, and reflective. And also to be a rock when he needs it, firm and steadfast, not evaporating or vanishing in the heat. I am learning. I am learning more than I thought I would. I am learning there is still so much learning to be done. But I am better for it, and happy with it, if it means I get more moments with this kid.
This kid who spends his days fighting against imaginary dragons and pirates and giants as big as Goliath. Oh how I pray that I can teach him how to battle the giants of life and the demons within with the same bravery and vigor with which he wields his foam swords. Oh how I pray that I can direct his passion without crushing his will. I pray that the way he gives himself to people, the way he heaps affection on those he loves, will never change. I pray that when he comes to know hurt or rejection or loss (specifically of the ones he loves with abandon) that He will be the better for it. I pray that he will not let it take away pieces of him so that he becomes less, so that he becomes guarded and holds back. I pray that he will emulate Christ in pouring himself out for the ones He loves, giving himself to people with no thought for what he will get in return or how much of himself he may lose in the process. One thing Braxton has taught me is not to ration myself. This is an area in which I still have so much to learn. I pray that I am a good student so that if he ever needs to be re-taught I can instruct and guide him in how to empty himself for others, sharing his contagious joy and affection. And I pray I can direct him to the One who will fill him back up to overflowing.
I pray for him that he will be a leader- full on conviction, courage and bravery. But not the kind of mock bravery that hides behind a mask, rather the kind of bravery that faces the hardships of life and the struggles within, with humility, vulnerability and trust. I want a son who is brave enough to be weak, who is brave enough to admit his weaknesses so in Christ he can be strong. I want a son who is brave enough to let the Bible define for him what ‘manhood” is and courageous enough to pursue it (with the help of God), despite failures and setbacks. I want a son brave enough to be pure, brave enough to flee from legalism, brave enough to let God set the course of His life, brave enough to let God chisel him into the mighty man He made him to be. So I pray for these things. All of these things. All of these things I want for my son I also want for myself, and I had better because how else could I ever hope to instill them in him, this kid?
Right now it is all pirates and knights “-gah-wuds” (guards) and “sow-uds” (swords). Right now the only letters he wants to know are “B” for Braxton and “J” for Jayna. Right now he chooses one consonant to start a word with, even if the word begins with two or three (shopping=sopping, sprinkle=pinkle, shoes=sooes, chicken=ticken, cracker=cacker etc.) Right now he refuses to take an afternoon nap and gets so cranky and beside himself by four o-clock that we usually spend the next hour cuddled up on the couch. I love that right now he will still fall asleep on me. I love that he says cuddles are one of his favorite things. I love the excuse to sit and “do nothing” but listen to his steady breathing. Right now he will still come up out of nowhere and grab my face so he can plant a slimy kiss right on my lips. Right now he will physically and verbally assault his sisters for a spot on my lap. Right now Ursula from the Little Mermaid scares him so he watches from the door to the living room, peaking in through his fingers. Right now taking a walk, not holding onto the stroller and gathering sticks so he can “do wo-wuk” (work) pretty much makes him a big deal. Right now marshmallows are heaven sent like manna and as precious as gold. Playing with Hayleigh, even if it means being her puppet on a string, her errand boy or her audience is the highlight of his day. Right now he still wraps her in a big embrace every time she goes to preschool. Right now he wants to sleep curled up with his elephant lovey given to me before he was born. Right now he vacillates back and forth between wanting “pivacy” going to the bathroom and needing a “potty helpuh”. Right now he will regularly stop whatever he is doing to squeeze Royce's cheeks until he leaves fingerprints and say “ooooh tubby-tubby-tubby (chubby) Roycie Boo-boo” . Right now doing manly things with Peter, like shoveling snow, is a good way for him to exercise his muscles. Right now he will regularly say “I am not Bwaxton! I am _____” and won’t answer to anything but his new alias. Right now he says "I don't fe-wuhl we-wuhl" every time there is something he doesn't want to do. Right now he has trouble falling asleep unless someone is next to him. Right now he thinks Pop is the greatest because he is a rock star and Papa is the best because he knows how to make pizza-in his house! Right now he and I will pray together "so God can he-wulp (him) make a good toice (choice) even when it is ha-wud (hard)". Right now he goes back and forth between being excited to join Ms. Patty's preschool class in the fall and "nevuh wanting to leave (me) and nevuh letting me go". Right now he wants to marry me. He is a prince and a king and a pirate and a knight and a basketball player and a baker and a rock star and a digger man and a performer and not a big strong man anymore, "just a littuh boy gwowing up".
Right now he is little, though he insists that he used to be little (remembuh when Hayleigh and I did _____when we wuwuh little, but now we awuh big?). I know all I am promised is right now. Sometimes that paralyzes me. I am not promised tomorrow with my Braxton. And even if we are blessed with many, many tomorrows the reality is that I do not know they hold. I do know though that they will bring change. I do know that they will bring moments of joy and moments of trouble-as the Bible promises. So really, all we have is right now. I have right now, which I pray will become a string of “right nows”, to love and lead my children, to point them to eternity. It is so easy to either get stuck drowning in the logistics of right now, or to get overwhelmed by the future and how quickly time goes. I need God’s help to use the right now, to view it as a blessing and an opportunity, to instill some of the ideals I have for Braxton in Braxton. Because pretty soon the right now I am living in will be the distant past. I hope and pray that the right now Braxton is living in then will be positively influenced by the way I choose to live all the right nows before it. I never want to forget the little boy he is right now. I never want to lose the parts of him that are naturally his-the untainted way that God made him to be. Part of me wants to hold onto this part of him forever. But the other part of me is in awe of the person that he is and is just so excited to see the plans God has for this little man of mine. I am often humbled by him, my heart enlarged with pride by him, my being bursting with joy because of him. I know that in the years to come he will amaze me. I know that just as King David or Daniel or Joshua did before him, that when he chooses to fight for God’s team, when he puts down his play swords for the sword of the Spirit, he will be more than a conqueror-a true hero, a warrior for our Lord.
Right now he is watching having a rest time and watching Peter Pan with his sister. I look in at him. His little lounge working back and forth on his lips. He is entranced by this favorite movie. He is three. That is what we have right now. And right now, I am amazed and so grateful.
Just as I did with Hayleigh I asked Braxton some questions:
What is your favorite animal? Deers, wild animals and zoo ones. I see them at Miss Julie’s house.
What is your favorite color? Blue and green
What is your favorite food? soup, quesadillas, and corn bread, and bananas, and pancakes, and veggie sticks, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and honey, and chocolate, and pizza, and apples…I like a lot of food
What is your favorite movie? Peter Pan because all the guys have swords! on guard! and Robin Hood
What is your favorite toy? Pirate Ship and toy swords and belts
What do you want to be when you grow up? A cookie man who bakes cookies
What is your favorite song? A pirate one!
What is your favorite book? A pirate one!
Where is your favorite place to go? to goldilocks (??) to see Jayna
What is one thing you want for your birthday? Transformers from Mac
What will be different about being three? Pirate things! And I am older and get to got Hop Pot (Hot Spot at church).