Wednesday, February 24, 2010

If you want to

“Auntie Em!” I heard the five-year-old call from his darkened bedroom after I finally managed to get his sick baby brother to bed. “Come here!”

With the two hours of soothing a crying baby behind me in the back room and a stack of unattended work before me in the living room, I made a short detour into the boy’s bedroom. “What is it?” I asked.

It became apparent from the munchkin’s difficulty in coming up with an answer that he had merely been bored. The poor kid cannot turn his brain off at night, and normally lies there for hours before he can get to sleep.

“Sweetie, you need to go to sleep,” I interrupted his nonsensical descriptions of his blanket. “You have school in the morning.”

“Well, there is at least one more thing,” he interjected in his adult tone.

“What is it?” I asked softly, somewhat dubious.

“Well... you can lay with me for a while, if you want to.”

I smiled in the dark, charmed enough by the invitation to consider foregoing my self-inflicted projects in order to help yet another nephew get to sleep, and amused by his lack of decorum. “Are you asking me to lie with you?” I asked like an annoying adult, supposing that if I were going to sacrifice the last bit of my unproductive babysitting night, he may as well ask me directly.

His polite tone developed a bit of a frustrated edge. “You can do whatever you want,” he insisted. “I am just telling you that you can lay with me if you want to, that’s all!”

Good thing for him, I did want to.

My efforts to teach manners having failed, I climbed into his bunk bed in the dark, tucking him in and lying beside him. As I listened to his breathing, I knew that I had melted to his non-request because it is so familiar. So rarely do I ask directly for things I want, even to those who love me most, even to God who has graces aplenty to spare. So rarely do I risk being turned down. So rarely do I venture to reveal my neediness. So rarely do I expose my longing to be loved.

The boy’s body broke the silence as he shifted his position and, as if an afterthought, flung his hand out toward me in dark.

“You can hold my hand, if you want to,” he informed me nonchalantly.

Yes, Little One, I do want to. I want to very much indeed.


Kate said...

Thank you for this. It's just what I needed to read today.

Casey said...

What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing!