There are cute kids, and then there are impossibly cute kids, the ones with large eyes, long eyelashes, and soft, ample cheeks. It was one such cutie that caught my eye at the mall last week. A soft little guy, he appeared to be a good eater, one that looked ready to move from size 2T to 3T, though I’m guessing he was only about eighteen months old.
He and his mother were waiting next to me in the breezeway at Dillard’s for the boy’s father to pick them up. Anxious to get home, he wiggled and squirmed and resisted as his mother worked mittens over balled up, sticky fists and situated a woolen elephant hat with ear flaps onto his head. The hat itself was too cute for words, complete with elephant ears, love knot eyes, and a stuffed trunk that curved outward and downward a full four inches, but when she tied it under the toddler’s chin, the result was more than I could have hoped for, pushing those soft, ample cheeks forward and forcing the boy’s full, pink mouth into a perpetual “chubby bunny” pout.
When the struggle was over, all three of us exhaled, and two of us giggled. The little boy wheeled around and pressed his face against the glass, looking for his daddy. Just then, a family of adults entered the breezeway, pulled their scarves over their mouths, and proceeded out the door to their car, forcing a gust of wind past my legs. The little boy with the elephant hat was intrigued and waddled to the door that had just closed.
“Aaron,” his mother warned gently.
Trying to smile from behind his cheeks, the little boy showed teeth and pressed his mittens against the door with purpose.
“No, no, Aaron,” his mother cautioned again.
The little boy closed his eyes to her words, turned his attention toward the door, and leaned, opening the door an inch or so. He froze, avoiding eye contact and hoping his mother hadn’t noticed.
“Aaron Chad,” his mother corrected, lowering her voice and setting her bags down just in case she needed to make a snatch and grab, “don’t open that door. Come here.”
For a long moment, it seemed as if Aaron Chad would obey. Straightening, he slowly lowered his mittens from the glass and watched the door close. Still no eye contact.
“Good boy,” his mother praised him, picking up the bags she had set down.
Aaron Chad giggled and, with renewed enthusiasm, squared his mittens on the glass, pushing with all his might. “I sah-wee,” he announced with surprising sincerity even as he disobeyed his mother and drew the outside chill into the room.
With impressive speed and skill, Aaron’s mother dropped everything and scooped him up before he could make it out the door. “No!” she corrected, a hint of panic in her voice. “I want to keep you. Stay here with me, and let’s wait for Daddy.”
Minutes later, they were gone, and I chuckled at what I’d witnessed. A mother of two, I’ve been there, done that.
You know, I believe Aaron Chad. I think he really was sorry, not sorry for what he was going to do, but sorry that it was going to make his mother angry. He didn’t want to disappoint her. He didn’t even really want to disobey. He simply wanted to do what he wanted to do more than he wanted to please.
Just like me.
How many times have I had my mittens on the door of disobedience, regret in my heart even as I leaned into my rebellion? Too many to count, I’m guessing.
“I know you told me to give more than my tithe, but I’d rather redecorate, Lord. I’m sorry.”
“God, I know you told me to forgive and move on, but I’ve worked up a good mad and want to enjoy it a while before I give it up. I’m sorry.”
“I know you told me to reach out to so-and-so like you would, Jesus, but I’d rather spend time with people who will love me back. I’m sorry.”
Thank goodness I’ve a Heavenly Father that will scoop me up one way or another and rescue me from my sin, bringing me back into fellowship with Him and sparing me regret. I don’t always like it. Sometimes He has to take hold with a pretty firm grip, but I know it’s for the best, mine and His. He loves me, so He keeps me. He’s the very best kind of daddy.