To my son on his birthday…

My dearest Liam, today you enter the phase of your life commonly referred to as the “terrible twos” but I am not alarmed. For, a child as sweet and delightful as you, I know will pass through this epoch with only a negligible impact.

Though every bit a rough and tumble boy, you possess a rare gentleness that I have never encountered in another child.

In these first two years of your life, you have utterly charmed me with your unique and graceful manner.

Your mother is equally enchanted. Sometimes you’ll toddle by us as she and I are talking, look at us and smile for a brief moment, then walk on about your business. Your mother can only sigh, “Oh he’s such a sweet boy.”

Of all the children it is the girls who are most taken with you. Gaelynn helps you out with a fastidious and almost motherly manner but, for Sophia, you are a glad and willing foil for her games. While Gaelynn will help you to your seat at the table, it is Sophia who encourages you to throw green peas at the dogs…  leaving both of you giggling in manic glee.

But with your elder brother Israel you have already developed a quiet depth of relationship. Though sometimes you will confuse him with the unpredictabilities of your infantile mind, the two of you can sit together for hours at a time without incident.

Recently I walked in as your brother was reading a book about the Solar System to you. While I have no doubt much of Israel’s words about light-years and planetary orbits sailed directly over your head, you nevertheless sat there and regarded him with rapt attention.

Though so much of your personality yet remains hidden by time and the gradual flowering of your mind, there are sufficient indicators of where your interests might be directed.

“Ball.” I can’t remember which came first: “ma-ma” or “da-da” but I know what your third word was: ball. The most important object in your world thus far is whatever ball happens to turn your fancy. Whether a baseball, basketball, football, or beach ball…  if it is a spherical shape of reasonable size, it fascinates and excites you.

Combine this with any sport involving a ball.

No other child in your family, including your cousins, can devote the attention to sporting events that you can. When we take you to local ballgames, the only thing that keeps you from sitting in your seat is your anxious desire to amble on to the field or court where the game is taking place.

At home, you will sit right next to me as I watch a ballgame, departing only when the obnoxious commercials suddenly interrupt the action. Once the game comes back, so do you.

Of course, I don’t assume this means you are athletically gifted, though it’s quite possible. The way you can whip a rubber baseball across the room indicates some latent hand-eye coordination, as well as a certain tenacity. Speaking of which, have I mentioned how competitive you are? Oh yes…

Though you are the youngest child of this household, you carry yourself with the foolhardy gumption that you should be able to run as fast and wrestle as hard as the others. At times this has resulted in you being a bit roughed-up, and other times it has resulted in a quarrel.

Yet even in your rare flickerings of anger, there’s a playful sweetness. As though you are not truly upset, merely playing a role in the altercation. For whatever the offense, it is soon and easily forgotten…  and you return to being the sweet child we all know and love.

But don’t misunderstand me, I know whose legacy you’ve inherited and I know the wretched sinner whose family name you bear.

For all your dulcet behavior and gentle manner, there abides a roaring beast.

I think much of your sweetness is borne more out of a lack of capability than necessary an absence of desire…  and this might make you the most fearsome of all my children. You will certainly not remain a suckling babe for long, this second birthday is evidence enough.

Ah but, for now, you remain a tender and loving child, of this there is no doubt. However, all is yet easy for you now, my child. Anything and everything you desire is before you in abundance, but the largesse of life is not so.

In time, the harsh realities of this world will begin to beat and wear upon your brow. Your guileless smiles and loving touch can be answered with spite and bitter vitriol.

But do not allow these things to turn you hard, my son, instead be strengthened by them as was our Lord. For He was despised, rejected of men, a “Man of Sorrows” and acquainted with grief.

…and so too you must be, my son, if you are to serve Him.

With love, your devoted father,

 

 

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