Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Paul Reiser, Kermit the Frog, and Our First Trimester

As the first trimester of our baby's developmental stage was completed yesterday (I wonder if he/she knows that), I thought it would be a good time to update all who care (and those who aimlessly clicked on the link) on recent events and amusing thoughts that I have had.

I know that the next sentence will go over nicely, especially with the mothers who are among the readers, but it is meant with the deepest sense of understanding that, yes, I know I am not the one who is pregnant, so here goes. The first trimester: Is that it? I mean, I have read several books on pregnancy from the father-to-be's perspective and the one thing that was common throughout was that the first trimester was a strait that had to be endured. I was expecting nausea, cravings, weight gain, and irritability on top of everything that Kellee was experiencing. Other than the occasional ache and the few pounds added on in the past couple months, this first stage has not been nearly as difficult as Alan Thicke and Paul Reiser told me it would be. Now, again, I know that I am not the one carrying another person, and I am not the one feeling all the pains, and putting up with me along with everything else, but really, we have both made the comment that if we had not been to the doctor twice and seen the Gingerbread Man on the screen twice, we would not know we were going to be parents.

This lack of reportable pregnancy news has given rise to worry within me about the future. The main cause for concern is that this child is conserving energy so as not to be any trouble now, but will, in the years to come, make up for all the nausea, indigestion, and headaches of which there seems to be a deficiency now. The secondary cause for concern is that the second or the third trimesters will be exponentially more difficult, because of the lack of such in the first. It would be like cramming 9 months of pregnancy into 6 months, because there wasn't much to speak of for the first 3 months, making the pregnancy consist of two three month periods (bimesters? semesters?) instead of three. But again, "Dr." Reiser and the other geniuses who write these dad-to-be books will tell you that the second trimester is, by far, the easiest of the three. I don't know what to expect now.

Of the two causes of concern, the former had me the most worried. I know that the child isn't actually saving energy in order to become the bane of western civilization, but the thought has crossed my mind. Something occurred Sunday night that quelled any worries I had about the potential boorish ways this child might be harboring.

Every year about this time, local churches of Christ are preparing their young people for the Lads to Leaders Convention that takes place each Easter weekend. We, here in Cleveland, TN. prepare by scheduling our young people to lead in the worship and ladies classes of other congregations, and those congregations reciprocate at another time. This gives them the practice in front of a large audience that they so desperately need, while affording the audience with the opportunity to see the future of the church in training. Sunday night was the last one in which we would be away at another congregation before the Convention in two weeks. This particular night we were scheduled to be at Central, located just a few miles away. The worship hour began at 6:30 with the three youngest of the group: Grey Gobble, Camden Womac, and Ryder Hinson.

Grey climbed the step stool provided until his shoulders and head were visible and led E.A. Hoffman's well-known song, "Have You Been To Jesus?" The Grinch, with his heart full of unwashed socks and his soul full of gunk, would have had no choice but to grin as he watched the smallest Gobble belt out his best notes. As he descended the stairs to the main floor when he finished his song, he made his way to the front row, where two beaming parents waited.

Things are always so much louder when everyone is quiet and not supposed to talk. For this reason, everyone heard a small three year old named Camden ask, "Is it my turn?" After having his question affirmed, he made his way up the steps to the podium, around the back and up the ladder until only the top of his head could be seen over the pulpit. A small arm extended to the sky and grabbed hold of the microphone and brought it down to his unseen mouth. Out came this enormous voice, "I will be singing Jesus Loves Me." And he did. After the song came to an end, he looked around with a slight grin. With some prompting he remembered he was to do something else: "Lamentations free, twenty-two, twenty-free. The steadfas love of Lord... never... ceases... mercies never come... end... new every morning... great is thy faifulness." And with that he hopped down to the floor and was off to the front row, where, again, two proud parents waited.

The next to go was Camden's two year old cousin, Ryder. He is perhaps the funniest child I have ever known. I never know what he will say, and to give him a captive audience and a microphone, well that is just the height of lunacy! The boy who cries at sand, asks "What happened?" when nothing has happened, and runs like Kermit the Frog, was standing behind a pulpit, peering at 200 hundred smiling people. I thought to myself, This is going to be awesome! And I, in no way, was disappointed. He surveyed the audience, right to left and when he had seen everyone, without warning, shouted "JESUS LOVES THE LITTLE CHILLLLLLDREN..." which prompted all of us to begin singing (after we stopped laughing, of course). After the echoes of "...CHILDREN OF THE WORRRRD" finished reverberating off of the walls, Ryder smiled, descended the steps and made his way to his mother, who was, just like the other parents, about to burst with pride (or relief, I'm not sure).

I don't know a single preacher who could have watched that five minute scene featuring Grey, Camden, and Ryder, and not thought of Matthew 19:13-14, or its equivalent verses in the other accounts. According to this text, Jesus told His disciples to allow the little children to come to Him, because the kingdom of heaven was made up of such individuals. He said, "Allow," not "force," or "bring" them to Him. He makes it sound like children are drawn to Him naturally, and if we, as adults will stay out of their way, they will find Him every time. That made me feel that, no matter what this child does in life, he/she will be drawn to Jesus from the beginning, and all we (the parents) have to do is allow it to happen. Don't misunderstand, I know training must take place (Prov. 22:6), but the growing toward Jesus will be as natural as a flower growing toward the sun.

Whatever the next trimester has in store, the end product will surely be worth it. Come to think of it, no matter what the trimester after that, or the one after that, or the one after that, or the one after that has in store, it will be worth it. All I have to do is not mess it up. That may sound simple to some, but to those who know better, they know it takes a lot of work, and just a little bit of knowing when to stay out of the way. That isn't something that Paul Reiser, Alan Thicke, or any of the "experts" can write in a book. It is something that is learned by those who have experienced it for themselves and are now the proud owners of big smiles as their children come bounding down the steps of the church building's stage. For now, I will simply take comfort in the fact that I am just finishing my first trimester of growing into a father. That seems to be enough for someone who is still growing. And I? Well,