Monday, June 16, 2008

Toddler Joy Gun

Toddlers have this unique ability of compressing infinite amounts of joy within their little selves.

Anyone who has parented, or hung out with the little tikes knows what I'm talkin' about.

Today my daughter, who I am now dubbing MiniMe* begged me to leave off making dinner to play Duck, Duck, Goose with her. Never mind that there were just two of us. That's not a problem for a toddler.

So I sat on the floor of our very messy family room among the duplos and books whilst she made circles around me, patting my head and saying, "Duck, Duck, Duck..." oh the tension...when will she say...."Goose!"

Before I had clambered up she was off and running. The shrieking laughter was like a jolt of electric joy filling the house. She was half terrified that I would catch her, half loving that I was chasing her. Terror and joy all expressed through her mighty screech.

When I rounded a corner to find her sitting in the middle of the family room carpet, she began to bounce up and down, giggling intensely.

"You didn't get me!" she hysterically shouted, amidst more and more laughter.

It was like she aimed a joy gun at me and shot me in the heart. Or maybe it's like she included me in her bubble of blissful delight. How could I resist? Why would I want to? I bounced and laughed along with her, screaming and tickling her.

Now as any parent can tell you, I was compelled to repeat this hilarity over and over again, until finally the novelty of it all wore off (for me).

"Mommy doesn't really want to play Duck, Duck, Goose anymore, honey."

Just think. Wouldn't it be supreme if we could bottle that capacity for joy? Oh, I know this isn't an original thought. People have asked this question many times before. But still. What a concept. Imagine you could open up, or plug in to a source of childlike ecstatic joy when you needed it.

But perhaps the nature of joy requires something else, something from within ourselves.

Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3

There may be several explanations of this teaching. But I am convinced that one of the aspects of being like "little children" is the ability to abandon yourself to joy.

*This should be self-explanatory if you've seen Austin Powers.