A Toddler, Duplos and the Pride of a Father

Exciting examples of engineering excellence. That’s what I see when I watch my 22-month old son play with blocks. His affinity for building began early, and blocks have now become his favorite toys. I’d wager that we could throw out almost all other toys and he would hardly notice. Duplo blocks are king.

The other day I was sitting next to our son on the floor, blocks strewn about, looking more like a WWII bombing zone than anything with a form. Of course, the chaos of it is what makes it fun. As I sat there and watched our architect-in-training try to make sense of the craziness before us, he decided to engage me in his work.

“Look, Daddy!”

What he held out was a rudimentary structure with blocks out of place and almost certainly substantial stability issues. It was clear he had a low regard for building codes. But in that moment, there is only one response a father could give:

“Oooooooh, I see that! I’m proud of you!”

His face lit up and he smiled his big, gappy, toddler-toothed smile at me, and he said simply (but with an unmistakable satisfaction), “Uh-huh!”

Yep, Dad being proud of him was not only appreciated, it was expected. Praise from Daddy was so satisfying that for the next ten minutes, with every block or two, he would hold out his tower and a similar exchange would follow. It never seemed to get old to him.

Nor did it get old to me. With each step along the way, I saw him learning new skills, trying new things, and basking in the approval of his father. He was entirely in the moment, not concerned with other things, fully confident that his dad would take care of any needs he had. He had a genuine desire to please me.

And as I sat there, the world’s worst construction inspector, I saw again one of my favorite things about being a parent. The way kids are with their parents teaches us so much about how God wishes we would be with Him.

Just as my child desires to hear me say I’m pleased with him, God wants that to be the leading desire in our lives.

Just as my son built what he could, with what skills he has, and had no shame with the fact that it was yet imperfect, God wants us to be the same with him: putting our all into pleasing him and having no shame when we still are imperfect.

Just as I expect for Cade’s abilities to grow over time, for him to keep trying new things and to keep moving the bar because he will have grown and matured, so God expects us to grow continually closer to him, to continue pleasing him by living lives that increase in grace, love and holiness.

Just as my love for my son won’t change if he doesn’t grow as I think he should, God’s love for us doesn’t change simply because we fall a step or two back from time to time.

We don’t expect skyscrapers from novices. God doesn’t expect perfection, especially from those who are toddlers in the faith.

So all we can do is to aim to please him, building our “godliness” skills, one duplo block at a time, each step of the way laying our lives before him, saying, “Look, Daddy!” If we’ve been genuine, he will smile and say, “I see that! I’m proud of you!”

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