Monday, March 15, 2010

And Then He Turned Five - The Tale of Froggy

Well, there has been a plethora of evidence lately that Joshua is growing up. First was a sudden question that interrupted the silence while we drove home from grocery shopping today:

"What's a vulva?"

What???!!! For goodness sake, he's only four! Okay, he turns five on Saturday, but still--Isn't that a little young to be asking about the details of female anatomy? He goes on . . .

"Right there on the back of that car. V-O-L-V-O. Vulva."

Aaaaaaaah. Big sigh of relief and internal chuckle, snort. That particular conversation is not actually necessary just yet. Praise the Lord.

Then there was last night just before we went out for a nice dinner with some family - a big treat in our home. Joshua was all decked out with a button-down shirt, cords and "Church shoes." After I teased him a little bit about how all the girls at the restaurant were going to be checking out how handsome he was, he actually blushed and admitted, "It's just that I really like girls."

Oh really? Joshua has always had a coy, flirtatious demeanor with certain women - especially blonds. But this was more than that - a bold statement, a proclamation, evidence that my little boy is a man in the making! Okay, well that just might be putting a little too much weight on a four-year-old's words, but it was awfully cute.

To help you to understand the gravity of the last bit of evidence, I will have to give a little bit of history. When Joshua was three months old, we spent our traditional week-long summer vacation at Lake Chelan over the Fourth of July. We had a surprise baby shower for my sister-in-law who was due in December. They received a duck "buddy blanket" by Bunnies By the Bay. I had seen these before and wanted to get Joshua the frog buddy blanket. Upon arriving home, I extensively searched online only to find disappointment. That particular buddy blanket was not being made, yet I knew it was the right one for Joshua.

The very next week, Joshua was baptized. We celebrated afterward at my parents' house. When it came time for gifts, I opened a bag from my parents and inside was a frog buddy blanket.

"Where did you get this?"

"You won't believe this . . . "

My mother then explained how on that very morning, the mysterious frog blankie was found on the sidewalk in front of their house, with no owner in sight. The very same one I had been searching for to no avail. And because it was in good condition, she simply washed it and wrapped it up for him as a gift for his baptism. From that moment on, "Froggy" has never been left behind. For five years, it has been dragged along the path of Joshua's childhood, always present for every bump along the way. 

Fast forward about five years, and I kid you not, the same froggy which Joshua received on the day of his baptism was once again a symbol of God's grace in his life.

This morning, as we prepared to be gone for the afternoon, Joshua announced, "I think I am done with my froggy. I want to give it to Noah."

OK, I know that might not sound like a very big deal, but look at it this way. What is your most prized possession in the world? Could you give it away? I don't think I could! And this amazing boy is just five years old, ready to part with his most loved toy; the crutch he has leaned on whenever in need of comfort for his entire life.

I was speechless. But upon further questioning, I found that Joshua was quite serious. He was done with Froggy and ready to pass it on.

I have praised him all day for his decision, and tonight we took him to the mall to purchase a surprise, early birthday gift. We visited Build-A-Bear and Joshua was able to help construct his chosen camouflage teddy bear, pick out his fisherman's outfit and then very appropriately name him Fisher.

Right now he sleeps Froggy-less, his discarded treasure in his brother's bed.

This evening before bed we read part of the story of Moses out of a children's Bible. This section explained that the king would not listen to God, so bad things happened to him.

Afterwords, I explained to Joshua that when we listen to God and do what is right, good things happen. I told him that because he chose to give away his Froggy, it gave me the idea to go get him a more big-boy stuffed animal for his birthday, and so now he had his new bear. I explained that this was God bringing something good into his life.

And how did he respond?

He looked into my eyes and stated simply, "I think that God was telling me inside that I should give my frog to Noah."

And so here I am, five years into motherhood, and I am in awe of God's work in my own life as well as the life of my son. Joshua proved to us very quickly that parenthood would be more difficult than we could ever have anticipated with his very strong will. I will never forget when he was one, I told him "no" as he got into something he was not supposed to, after which Joshua proceeded to toddle right on over to me and hit me.

How sweet it is to taste the other side of that, to feel some encouragement. Two family members have remarked recently how Joshua seems to be maturing.

Motherhood is difficult. And it will continue to be. I have been at my wit's end countless times and lost my patience just as much; but in the midst of chaos, frustration, anger and discouragement, I can be lifted up. By friends. By family. By Jason. And by my son.

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