Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Toddler Nursery

The tender plant in my nursery's care has come a long way from it's beginnings as a seed. Since it first pushed it's way out into the air as a fragile shoot, it has grown strong and bright: taking in all the sunlight and water I allow it to have.

That plant is my toddler boy and the nursery is our home. The sun and water are the spiritual and physical nourishment he so needs to become a healthy child. My little sprout has leaves of his own now: ideas, thoughts, thinking patterns...even the ability to attempt having an affect on the ideas, thoughts and thinking patterns of others. He certainly is shooting up like a weed, though he embodies the most beautiful flower you could ever envision.

One thing is clear that describes this stage: Growth. If you have ever raised a plant from a seed (or a child from the womb) you know the process. It seems like an eternity for our seed (unborn child) to sprout. We wait, and wait, and wait some more. Our minds begin to doubt the inevitable arrival of the awaited little plant. However, the exciting day comes and reveals a tangible, visible, beautiful young life. The unseen life we have been constantly caring for. We now marvel and the tenderness of the little life; we handle it cautiously...afraid to harm it's tender beauty. Slowly it becomes stronger until you wake up and see in front of you a not-so-weak life with leaves of its own. Growth is a constant, day by day occurrence now as he reaches towards the sun and draws from the water he is given.

It is in this stage when many parents -- seeing that their child is stronger and apparently resilient -- make the choice to hand their child into the care of someone else. However, many parents do not realize what type of plant they are raising. It goes unnoticed that the seed they planted isn't what they thought. Children are more like bonsai trees than simple sunflowers. Have you ever talked with someone who cares for bonsai trees? It is as if they are the only ones in the world who have the knowledge to give their tree what it needs. Hand it over into someone else's care at this tender stage of training? Never. Sure...anyone can raise a sunflower, but the complexity of these plants are parallel to none.

So begins perhaps the most important duty of parents: training. Every day we must watch him carefully; looking for a branch that is going in the wrong direction, or a shape in his character which seems wrong. Every day he must be pruned, watered, given just the right amount of sun and shade: he must be trained.

Such were the reasons behind my life slowing down. There isn't time for outside pursuits. Now is the time I must be home, attentively watching his young life so that he doesn't grow wild...out of shape. It is vital in this stage: he must not be left alone.

Of course, this is also a time where he is learning independence; but since this is only the beginning of that lesson, it must be kept short. Nonetheless, we must not forget to allow them to take their own shape: to reach towards their own interests, activities and dreams within our direction and authority.

A sunflower needs no authority, it needs to training. Our children are not the same. Their hearts were made to come under authority: the authority of parents, leaders, and God. To rob them of that is to take away their security and their direction in life. To refuse to bring a stable authority into their lives will produce wild, untrained trees with no direction: twisting and reaching to find something to hold onto.

Don't neglect this stage of is perhaps one of the most important as these little ones are learning to allow authority into their lives. Gently and tenderly we must direct them, train them, and watch God shape them into a beautiful maturity.

Related Posts:
What is Wrong with the Nurseries?
What is a Nursery?
The Detachment of the Womb
The Infant Nursery

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