“Big Baby” by Michelle Jones

As I write this column from the upstairs bedroom of my brother’s San Francisco loft, an argument ensues downstairs.  Pilar Brielle and Landon Asher—my 9-month-old godchildren—want what they want, and apparently their parents are not giving it to them fast enough.

The twins are loud and insistent.  That is to be expected.  What’s hilarious to me are my brother Tim and his wife Denise trying to reason with them.  They speak in smooth, patronizing tones, the way a psychiatrist talks to a guy in a straight jacket.

“Pi-laarr?  Your bottle is almost ready, okay?”

“WHAAAAAAA!!!!”

“Landon… Landon?”

“WHAAAAAAAA!!!!”

Hearing the conversation in the babies’ heads, I imagine it goes something like this:

“Bla-blaah?  Blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah, blah?”

“I’M HUNGRY! YOU!  FOOD LADY!  BRING FOOD!”

“Blah-blah… Blah-blah?”

“HEY! I’M HUNGRY! GIANT MAN!  HELP FOOD LADY!  NOW!!”

This, uh, discussion goes on for a few minutes before the grownups abandon reasoning and scramble to shove bottles or baby food in where all the noise is coming out.  As soon as they do, there is blissful peace, punctuated by sweet sucking sounds.

The parents feel competent, heroic even.  They have stopped the babies from crying and righted the world, as they know it.  The babies let them bask in this illusion.  So do I.  It is obvious to me that the infants run this asylum.  Tim and Denise are staff—unpaid staff—working their tails off for a reward of catnaps and baby food stained clothes.

Later, between flipping Landon upside down and clapping with Pilar (clearly I was hired for my entertainment value), I marveled at how eagerly we all doted on them.  It seemed obvious at first.  You wait on babies because they’re needy, right?  Right.  And they let you because they know they’re needy, right?  Wrong.  Babies don’t know that they need you.  They know what they want.  Big difference.

Babies are haughty.  They are entitled superior little beings.  You will never hear a baby described as “humble.”  Humility appreciates its own smallness and understands its own helplessness.  Humility asks for—it doesn’t demand—what it wants.  Landon and Pilar are lots of cute, soft, sweet smelling (most of the time) things, but there is not a humble bone in their pudgy little bodies.

Jesus tells us to come to Him as a child not a baby.  It occurs to me that in some of my dealings with Him, I have come like Landon, grabbing and snatching what I want, or like Pilar, with an ear-splitting scream demanding it NOW!

Children are not babies.  Like babies, they are smaller than we are, and they do need a lot of help, but the difference is they know it.  They are aware that someone must take care of them lest they starve or go naked.  They wait to be picked up at school.  They call you mom and dad, not Sally and Dave or What’s-your-name.

Children don’t—as a rule—order their parents around fearlessly (unless somebody’s not doing their job).  They don’t expect to pay the gas bill because they know they have no responsibility in that area.

The difference between a baby and a child is in the attitude.  Babies are arrogant.  They demand that their needs are met and they don’t care how.  One hand with a bottle or a dry diaper is as good as another.  Children have learned to be confident.  They know what they want, but they also know where to go to get it.

A “good” child doesn’t accept a ride from a stranger.  She doesn’t expect an allowance from any grownup passing by with cash.  If he has a booboo that needs kissing, only one pair of lips will do.  When she brings a trophy home, nobody’s attagirl matters as much as mom’s or dad’s.

Come, as a child, not a baby.  Come.  Approach.  Move from where you are to get what you need from the One who is waiting for you with everything in His hand.  Come, don’t sit and pout, rant and rail, scream, accuse, put your hands on your hips, flip your wig, or storm off in a huff because you’re tired of waiting.  Come expecting, not snatching and grabbing.  Come to your Father, not a stranger, as a beloved son or daughter, not an orphan.

Landon can’t walk yet, and he’s not fond of crawling, but every day he waits for my brother—his daddy—to come home from work.  He listens for the key in the door, and when it opens, the sight is hysterical.  No matter what Landon is doing, he stops, drops to the floor, and scoots like a tadpole toward the “Hey Little Man!” coming from the giant man who rocks him to sleep every night.

He’s learning.  When I grow up, I want to be just like him.

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2 Comments

  1. Bea said,

    October 27, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Michelle,
    I thank you so much for sharing with us what God has revealed to you. As I was reading, two words popped out at me as it has been for the last week,”NEEDY” and “CAREGIVER”. I explained a little about myself in Palm Bay. I am seeking to get rid of this being needy or meeting people who are needy. I am reading a book, “When Women Love Too Much” and it is showing me how Needy I was and trying to nurture everyone that comes into my lfe. It is truly hellping me a lot. I have been in too many wrong relationships, even now and wanting and needing a change. I am ready. You helped me a lot when talking about your dad and not choosing anyone like him. I thank God again for your wisdom and experiences and passing it on to us. Many blessings to you and hopefully when you get time, we can chat.

  2. cre8nmi said,

    October 28, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    You sound like you’re on the right track. I am amazed at how many people find themselves in your place and choose to stay there because it is familiar, or because they are too afraid to fail.

    I guess the question you have to ask yourself is “What hole am I trying to fill up with all this needy behavior?” I guarantee you it is one that God is waiting to fill if you will let Him. For me it was a fear of being left alone.

    Let me know how the book turns out.


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