Last night Dave and I experienced what was, to date, one of the sweetest moments in our lives as parents. We were sitting at the dinner table. Meg had finished eating her pasta entree and was working on her cucumber pieces. She was also attempting to use a grown-up fork (well, a dessert fork, at least) for the very first time.
Dave had been coaching her throughout the meal. "Careful, girlie, don't stab yourself... Try holding the fork here, in the middle of the handle... You can use your fork to spear the food instead of just scooping it up like you would with a spoon, like this..." and so on. Overall, Meg was doing pretty well--fingers were still in active use, but the fork was seeing some action too.
So there was this piece of cucumber in the middle of Meg's blue plastic plate. She went to stab it with her fork. The fork tines pierced it, but as she brought it toward her mouth, it wobbled and then fell of the fork. Splat, back on the plate. She hadn't really pushed the fork deeply into the food. We chuckled and tried to explain what had gone wrong. She tried again. Stab. Wobble. Splat. The same thing happened again. And then again.
Finally, brilliant and helpful parents that we are, we tried to help her load the fork. It was harder than it looked. Peeled cucumbers are slippery, and maneuvering the fork that was still gripped tightly in Meg's grimy little hand was awkward. When we thought we had the cucumber secured on the fork properly, Meg once again lifted it to her mouth. Wobble. Wobble. Wobble... splat! Dave and I both burst out laughing and, amazingly, Meg did too.
It was the first time that we have ever laughed together--not us laughing at her and her giggling because she made Mommy and Daddy laugh; not her laughing at something silly we did for her amusement. All three of us laughed spontaneously, at the same time, just because each found the situation funny. Dave and I looked at each other in the midst of our laughter, and I could see him enjoying the significance of it just as I was. It was a marvelous moment, simple and profound. There is something very right about parents and their children laughing together, enjoying one another. Isn't that part of what God created families to do?
In our culture, the prevailing attitude seems to be: cherish your kids while they're small but dread their growing up. (Or just don't cherish kids at all.) I have, however, heard some godly parents say the opposite, to the effect that it only gets better as your kids get older. Now as a mom who adores little ones for their very littleness, that can be pretty hard to believe. But last night gave me a taste--a small but appealing taste--of how true it can be. By God's grace, Dave and I look forward to sharing more and more laughter with our children as they grow.