Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ruminations on Baby Diets

It occurred to me tonight, after my 11-month-old daughter Charity refused to eat a pea that was in a spoonful of her baby food, but gladly popped in a small piece of chalk she found while scouring the baseboards, that there is some serious irony in comparing what she will and will not eat. For example, here is a partial list of things she has put (and kept) in her mouth lately:

* Scraps of paper
* Popcorn kernels
* Dust bunnies
* Thread from clothes
* Any toy she can find on the floor
* Shoes
* Socks
* Grass
* Bark
* Twigs
* Sand
* Chalk
* Dried up old pieces of macaroni and cheese that fell on the floor earlier today
* Dirt

And here is a partial list of things she quickly spits out when they find their way into her mouth:

* Peas
* Chunks of carrot
* Broccoli
* Corn
* Green beans

It seems as if her taste buds are trying to tell us something: if vegetables taste worse than dirt, don't you think they were probably never meant to be eaten?

My wife doesn't buy it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Imitation is Great--But THIS?

One of the most enjoyable, ego-stroking parts of being a father to young children is seeing their earnest attempts to imitate me. As Anne Shirley, the fictional orphan of the beloved Anne of Green Gables books so aptly says, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

And flatter me my children do. From the youngest age, they learn to mimic facial expressions, lighting up a whole room when they return a toothless grin, tugging at their parents' heart strings when they repeat back "Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma" and "Da-da-da." In fact, it has not escaped my attention that my eleven-month-old daughter Charity seems to say "Da-da-da" when she is feeling her very happiest. Flattery, oh yes. She seems to understand already who the weaker parent is when it comes to getting one's little way or begging for a special treat.

Charity has recently supplemented her one-syllable-repeating-word vocabulary with some fabulous non-word sounds, a family favorite being her lip-smacking noise that she lets loose when she hears us blowing kisses. Yes, with deep blue eyes at least twice too big for the rest of her body, she is an A-grade kiss-blower.

She has also started doing "raspberry" sounds, much to the delight of her older siblings. She sticks that little pink tongue out and blows with her might, vibrating her whole mouth and sending spittle into the stratosphere. Yes, her siblings are enjoying the flattery of imitation too.

But ultimately, my wife and I set the gold standard for our children's' behavior, as far as imitation goes. With such power of suggestion comes some inherent responsibility, an inconvenient detail I sometimes forget. But I was reminded today as I walked into the kitchen where I had placed Charity in her high chair for lunch. It was just the two of us in the room. She looked eagerly at me, and as I not-so-discretely discharged some gassy buildup from my bowels, she responded with a loud, long raspberry.

Laugh if you want; I sure did.

Yes, imitation is great, but it looks like I've got to start watching my vocabulary.

I Believe in Christ

I believe in Christ; he stands supreme!
From him I'll gain my fondest dream;
And while I strive through grief and pain,
His voice is heard: "Ye shall obtain."

(Bruce R. McConkie, 1915-1985)

This is the verse of the hymn "I Believe in Christ" that explains the deepest reasons for my gratitude for our Savior.

Jesus Christ has done so much for me: He created this marvelous world under our Father's direction and filled it with beautiful things to experience and enjoy. He has called prophets from the days of Adam until these latter days, teaching them how to invite all the rest of us to come unto Him. These prophets have given me specific commandments, suited for this day and time, that allow me to maximize my happiness and avoid Satan's pitfalls.

Jesus Christ condescended to come into this world himself as a baby and grew up among "mortal men, his earthly kin." He showed us a perfect example of how to live under the most difficult of telestial circumstances. He taught us his gospel, full of ideals so lofty that they truly transcend this world and lift the earnest disciple of Christ onto a higher plane. His call is ever upward, beckoning me to reach for celestial heights.

He meekly and willingly endured unimaginable pain in Gethsemane and on the cross to free us from the twin monsters of death and hell. He descended below all things so that he might comprehend all things (D&C 88:6), and be prepared to succor and save me in every condition I might stumble into (Alma 7:12). In so doing, he has freed me from the "woes of sin" and made it possible for me to have hope:

Ether 12:4 -- Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.

His atoning sacrifice for me has placed within my reach the greatest gifts of God, "even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come." (D&C 59:23).

Abinadi called Jesus Christ "the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people" (Mosiah 15:18).

And eternal life, in all it's fullness, is that "fondest dream" that I sing about in the hymn. Only as I have married and become a father myself has the true meaning and infinite value of the phrase "eternal life" started to sink into my soul; only after having tasted the sweet joy and companionship of a woman who means more to me than anyone else in this world; only after experiencing playing a part in giving life to another soul, bringing a precious child of God into this world, and experiencing the love of a father for a child.

My fondest dream is to live a life of peace and joy with my wife and children, my brothers and sisters and parents, and all my other friends and loved ones, in the presence of our Heavenly Father the Lord Jesus Christ; to live with Them and continue on, with my loved ones, in Their divine pattern of eternal living.

Jesus Christ has not only redeemed me, He has redeemed everyone I love. Only through him is it even possible for me to be worthy to hold the sacred priesthood of God, and enter His house to be sealed to my wife and children for eternity. Only through him can I hope to become the type of husband and father I need to be to qualify for the blessings of an eternal family.

Jesus Christ is the center of my faith, the source of my hope, and the divine giver of what charity I have.

Jesus Christ has bridged the gulf between who I am and who I may become some day. He is my Master and Lord, a position he eternally and irrevocably occupies of His own merits alone, but which I gratefully and gladly sustain him in. I believe in Christ, I love him, and I look to him as my personal Messiah.