Johnny and Jessie

Johnny, our 19 month old son has been learning to talk on this trip. He seems daily to add words to his little vocabulary, some more distinguishable than others, though every one precious to his parents and adoring siblings. His favorite word and the one he learned early on was “Dadeeee” with the accent on the “deeee.” Naturally he has won my heart for life with that one. It’s his favorite word and he babbles is all the time, sometimes in an effort to address me, other times as a little mantra he shares with himself. You’ve got to love that.

He can also say words like “please,” “thank you,” “fish,” “excuse me,” “beach,” “doggie,” “milk” and “get your hands off me and leave me alone” (this one most often directed at his older brothers and sisters). All of these are annunciated as best as he is able, but are no less distinguishable to those closest to him. He’s learned to combine the words in some small sentences too, his favorite being “Dadeee (or Mommy) ‘mere!” (Daddy, come here!).

He’s also learned to speak his brothers and sisters names, though sometimes in a round about way. The other day Lisa and were sharing a mutual longing for a shower while sharing notes on the variety of offensive odors emanating from our persons. We were complaining of B.O. while Johnny listened on with rapt attention. The rest of the afternoon and all the next day we heard him singing in his little voice, “bee ohh, bee ohh, bee ohh.” Good grief, what else are we teaching this child?

After a few days we noticed that he was using the phrase not to express his desire to move away from us, but to reference his older brother Benjamin. We’re not sure whether Benjamin acquired that name for his trademark odure or as Johnny’s best effort to speak his name. But, the name has progressed from “Bee Ohh” to “Bee Bohh” so we’re thinking it’s the latter.

Elisabeth is “La La,” David is “Day Da,” Jessie is “Deh Dee” and Isaac is still unnamed. All of them are dear to him and have all become a great help in caring for him and keeping track of him.

Speaking of keeping track of children we were in Wal-Mart today doing some of the shopping we seem perpetually in need of when I lost track of Jessie. We were in the process of finding a new bathing suit for David when it happened. There were four of us: myself, Benjamin, David and Jessie. We’d found a suit and had walked over to the changing room when I noticed it. I said to Benjamin, “Where’s Jessie?” A shrug of the shoulders, “I don’t know.” I walked back to where we’d been and thankfully saw a tearful little child running towards me. I bent down for a mighty special hug comforted her as only a father can do. Boy, you want to talk about squeezing a guy’s heart until the tears pop out! It’s interesting, that little incident of “lost and found” has created a new and special bond between us. She is willing to hold my hand in public places where before she insisted on going her own way. She wants to come with me and wants to stay with me. The wonder of that kind of bond was made more plain to me at the rest stop where we had lunch. There was a bulletin board with the names and faces of missing children and their possible abductors. What a horror to lose a child like that.

It’s the parental bond that most trains our hearts to follow God. First, as children we learn to obey and to walk with a greater authority, and then, as parents we learn about what it means to love someone enough to die for them.

Thank you Jesus for these two and all my precious babies.

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