“Don’t play in the water.”
I had warned him at least once or twice during my Poppy duty. The call of an open toilet bowl is challenging for a 20-month old little boy.
This time, I heard splashing. He was all in. I came up behind him and said, “Kingston!”
He immediately turned, standing as much at attention as a toddler can.
Fairly stern (though I had more in the tank), I said, “You know that you are not to…”
Before I could finish, his cheeks blushed, his pout shaped down and the eyes were filling. Before I could finish, he said, “Yeeeeeaaaaah,” and started sobbing.
I didn’t finish my “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.”
I swept him up. Held his body against my chest and joined him in the sob. Standing their hugging each other, I’m not sure who needed it more. His toilet water wet hands soaking my shirt. We probably hugged for ten minutes and I think both of us would have been fine with forever.
He was crying because he’s a good kid. He wants to make his Poppy proud (and he does). After our morning run, he had taken my stinky socks back to the bedroom for me. That was so kind. When I got to the room, I found that the socks were not only in the room but were stored where they belong in my running shoes. He did as I do, without instruction. That less-than-two-year-old is a compliant kid who got caught and that caused a cry.
I was crying because I saw sin.
“That’s a little hard, Poppy. He was just playing in the toilet.” It is strong, but not untrue. That independence is early evidence of the seed that is in all of us. That independence apart from our Creator. Kingston is a child of Adam. He and I (and you) have this seed of sin in us. It is a separation from the perfect God that we cannot solve, in and of ourselves.
While I may have known that truth, that is not how I responded. I didn’t respond to his tears with “Hey sinner.” I can’t even imagine. Rather, my love compelled me to sweep him up into my arms immediately. I held him close. I identified with his feeling, because I’ve been there. He need my love and assurance.
In that moment, I wanted him to know that I love him unconditionally. I will be there for him. I will never let him go. Nothing will ever separate him from my love for him. And, I will work to protect him from the threats of open toilet bowls.
This isn’t some parenting seminar or the latest trend in toddler teaching. It is the Gospel.
The Good Father
The preeminent example for me is the Good Father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. I’ve written about it and spoke about it many times. That young son met with the end of his toilet play. The Bible says, “He came to his senses” (Luke 15:17). He realized he was wrong and turned around. He started back to his Good Father and along the way developed on an argument for His return to the household operations. He was willing to admit himself as one who plays in the toilet and he should be no better then the servants in the house of the Good Father. As he practiced his speech as he walked home, I’m sure that his cheeks blushed, his pout shaped down and the eyes were filling.
The Good Father waited and watched. As soon as he saw his son’s return, he ran to him, the son tried to launch his argument, but the Good Father swept him up. Held his body against his chest and joined him in a sob. Standing their hugging each other, I wonder who needed it more? The young son’s sinful hands laying upon the Good Father. They probably hugged for ten minutes, but I bet they would have been fine with forever.
On the Wet Floor
It was toilet play. It was so much more. It was my opportunity to raise the expectation for this young man, and let him know that he is deeply loved by Poppy.
They say that you don’t understand the depth of the love of God until you have a baby of your own. Maybe, I don’t know. This grandbaby stuff is a whole new level and it is so good to come to understand our Good Father from a soaked bathroom.