This morning, while dark shadows from the magnolia trees behind our house still shook and shivered across my bedroom window, I heard the soft shuffling of little feet in my room. In the quietness of the early morning hours I heard a “flump.” Four year-old fingers, I figured, flipping on the bathroom light. Then another “flump,” followed by the steady whirr of the bathroom fan.
I went right back to sleep.
It is not unusual for Christian to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to, well, wee-wee. And lately he has preferred to use our bathroom, rather than his own. Ours is a few steps closer. But I suspect there is also another reason.
You see, we have this heat fan thingy on the ceiling of our fancy new Mastah Bahthroom. It’s great, actually and Christian loves it. He especially enjoys using it after his evening bath. He likes to run down the hall and into our bathroom (followed by Henry of course), to flip on the fan and bare his all under the blasting heat.
Usually Christian goes right back to sleep, in his own bed, after waking up to potty. Sometimes he's awake for the day (which, if he happens to wake up at 5:15, is really not fun). Other times he will simply slide into our bed and slip back to sleep without us even noticing. But this morning was a little different.
When Joe got up to take Brandy out for her morning business, about an hour after I had awoken to soft steps in the bedroom, he noticed the light and fan were still running in the bathroom. When he opened the door, he discovered Christian, positioned perfectly under the heat fan, snuggled up on the floor with his pillow and blanket -- sound asleep.
The older Christian gets, the easier it seems it is for me to forget just how dependent he still is. I know some of you may be reading this and thinking, Four years-old? Honey, he’s just a baby! But compared to Henry, my needy, clingy two year-old, Christian is Independent. He dresses himself in the morning. He can make his favorite snack, cheese toast, all by himself. He can use a computer, a phone, a microwave. He can build an elaborate train track and a 100-piece puzzle without help. He’s learning to read. He’s a Big Boy in so many ways.
But then he falls asleep on my bathroom floor and I am reminded of all the ways in which he really is just a baby -- my sweet, innocent precious boy. I think of all the ways in which he does still depend on me. All the ways in which he does still need me. All the ways in which he does still look to me.
What a humbling reminder this morning was. Seeing Christian’s pillow and powder-blue down comforter lying rumpled up on my bathroom floor. What a scary, awful, intimidating, daunting, awesome thing it is to have responsibility for such a fragile, impressionable, tiny human being.
Lord help me. I am not up to this challenge by myself. (But I do think I will invest in an extra blanket for Christian's bed.)