Mar 17, 2012

Lesson from a four-year-old

Last night, after a full day of play in the sun and sand and water and grass, Gavin was filthy and exhausted. During his bath, his skin started to itch.  I'm not sure what triggered the reaction, but his skin was red and blotchy and clearly felt like it was on fire.  He and Lexi and Kate were all sharing the tub.  They all started crying at once, so I wrapped towels around each of them and we crossed the hall to the girls' room.

Gavin was howling the loudest of the three, crying that his skin hurt.  Bordering on hysteria, he cried, "I need you to sing me a song and rub my back and do joint compressions!"

So I did just that.  I helped Gavin put on his favorite fleece jammies.  I sang his favorite Primary song, ("If The Savior Stood Beside Me") and I compressed his joints, one by one (in the order he specified), and then I rubbed his limbs softly.  After a few minutes he was calm and we went downstairs to his room.

Gavin climbed into bed and said, "I need you to cuddle with me.  And sing to me some more."  He snuggled up to his favorite Mr. Stanley the bear.  I hugged Gavin and pressed him into Stanley.  He said, "I love being squished.  Don't you?"  His grin of pleasure was in stark contrast to the panic of ten minutes before.

I tucked the covers all around his body, then draped Stanley's giant arm over Gavin's shoulder.  He said, "Now I want you to rub my back and sing some more."

So I did.  I sang through all of his favorite soothing songs and rubbed his back.  Within five minutes Gavin was asleep, totally at peace.

The whole experience moved me to tears.  I've been thinking about it all day, trying to figure out why Gavin's distress--and subsequent calm--struck such a chord in my heart. Tonight I think I've got it.

Gavin was clearly feeling pain last night.  With all the honesty and innocence of a child, he cried out in his distress.  He has not yet learned to ignore or shove off or hide his pain.  He looked for help immediately because he knew that someone else held the key to his healing.  There was no shame in the asking--just trust and humility.  And because his heart was so open, he accepted help when it came and easily found peace.

This is probably part of the reason that the Savior tells us to "become as little children." Gavin seems to know where to turn when his little heart is in turmoil, and he's not afraid to do it.  He turns to his mother's loving embrace, to gentle touch, to songs about Jesus. He also knows special things unique to himself that will aid his recovery.

It's a lot harder for me to cry out when I'm in pain, and I'm not as in touch with myself as he is.  I'm not totally sure what makes me tick.  But I appreciate Gavin's example of humility and trust that shows me how I can reach out when I need help--and to Whom.
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