I have always marveled at how much a baby changes during the first year of life. Vulnerable from conception, let alone first breath, they never fail to bring a tear-tinged smile to my face at first meeting.
I know that their helplessness will soon be replaced by tiny hands reaching to touch everything in their world, first testing it for its viability as food for the body. Eyes that couldn't focus one week now light up when you enter the room. Arms and legs that seemingly moved with no purpose are tamed and now gleefully enter into a bouncing lap dance at every opportunity.
By the time babies mark their first year out of the womb, they are pulling themselves up while your heart leaps into your throat or drops into your stomach fearing the coming fall. Just before or soon after that first birthday candle is extinguished amid much laughter and song, the first steps, that will one day lead them to walk away, are made, tottering always toward your open arms.
What a difference a year makes.
Danny and I discovered that a year also makes a remarkable difference, at least in the development of our Colorado granddaughters, whom we typically see just once a year.
Last year, the first year they were deemed mature enough to spend an entire week away from home and hearth, I spent the week taming their summer tresses and helping them pick out books and, with Maddy, the youngest of the two, helping to sound out the three syllable words. They both preferred baths and Maddy was happy to have my help shampooing her hair.
Last summer, when I announced that they were allowed to stay at the city pool without me, they initially reacted with trepidation. This year, they were nearly out of the car before I could safely park it, heading for the cool, sparkling water with barely a backward glance. Haili now prefers showers, has developed a healthy modesty and Maddy didn't need to be reminded to put conditioner on her hair.
Specifically choosing to spend fair week in Nebraska, the girls were enthralled with the carnival where they rode everything (except the "Top Gun") at least once. They enjoyed testing their skills with darts, each winning a stuffed animal (one of which became an early birthday gift, complete with ribbon, for Grandpa. It now has the coveted position of "truck cat," secured to the dash of Danny's '69 Ford 3/4 ton utility truck.) Luck came into play when Maddy, 8, picked a winning duck out of the duck pond and I was stunned when she landed a ping pong ball in a fish bowl, winning a beauty of a goldfish, aptly named "Goldie," now destined for her dad's fish tank.
The rodeo, complete with "mean" cowboys that lassoed calves and tossed them onto the ground to tie their little calf feet together, failed to impress the girls Sunday night, although they thoroughly enjoyed the barrel racing.
This year, Haili, nearly 11, couldn't find enough time to read the fantasy book series Grandpa gave her and frequently voiced her frustration, but she had plenty of time to fill me in on the personalities of her favorite television shows. Planning ahead for her upcoming 11th birthday party sleep-over made her the ideal lead person on our own sleep-over with cousin Harley, Patrick's daughter, included in the guest list. (Eventually, I'll have to erase the evidence of the manicure Harley gave me that night.) The official guest list for the Cribbs Gala (no boys allowed) named names and ages, oldest to youngest. I'm keeping that. Who knows when I'll be deemed "too old" for a sleep over.
The tree swing went up on Day 1, but saw very little activity throughout the week. I wonder if we'll even have to send Ben into the limbs of our enormous hackberry next year to suspend it.
The computer was idle throughout the week, my watch remained in my grandmother's tea cup on top of the entertainment unit and I had to consult the calendar to establish what day it was. Tuesday morning, which marked my return to my duties at the McCook Daily Gazette, and the girls' departure for home, came way too soon and they weren't out the door for 15 minutes before Grandpa and I were wishing them back again.
The girls quickly remembered our tradition of holding hands during prayer and each took their turn, always closing "in Jesus' name." The dinner prayers inspired interesting spiritual conversations with our girls. In fact, Maddy opined at supper Sunday that every time we sin, Jesus has to die again. I gently corrected her theology, then admitted that every time we sin, Jesus is very sad.
"Why?" she asked, her blue eyes wide.
"Because, sin takes us farther and farther away from him," I answered.
Much like time and distance take our Colorado girls far away from us.
Until next year.
"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:14 and Luke 18:16 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.