Toddlers. They have a mindset all of their own. It’s complicated at some times, and laughably clear at others. Little Timmy, why are you screaming at your macaroni? Who knows. They also have interesting ways of coping when they get scared. This dad realized that his son was doing something abnormal in order to get through a really stressful trip…when he made the connection between his son’s actions, however, his heart practically melted!
When I was fresh out of the seminary, my wife, Kathy, and I moved with our two-year-old son, Nate, to a small native village in Alaska. The small three- and four-passenger planes we took on our connecting flights so terrified our little boy that he took his favorite blanket and covered his head until we set down on the small dirt landing strips.
Later, during the long adjustment months that followed, when we were learning how to live in a new place among new people of a different culture, my son carried his security blanket everywhere, and it soon became soft and well-worn. He couldn’t fall asleep until he had his blanket and could snuggle into its warmth.
The second year that we were in the village, I had a chance to guest speak at a mission conference in Seattle. While I was packing for the trip, my son followed me around the room, asking where I was going, and how long would I be gone, and why did I have to speak to those people, and was anyone going with me?
Fine-tuning my speech in my mind, I was a little distracted and concerned about catching the small plane out of the village on time. My son seemed most worried about my having to fly out in bad weather on one of those small planes he feared so much. I reassured him that I would be fine, and I asked him to take care of his mom until I came back. With a hug at the door, I was off to the village landing strip and on to my speaking engagement.
When I got to the hotel in Seattle, I didn’t have time to unpack until later that evening, and I was horrified when I opened my luggage and found my son’s security blanket inside. I pictured my wife trying desperately to find the lost blanket as she prepared our son for bed. I immediately rushed to the phone to call Kathy and tell her that the blanket was in my luggage, so she could reassure our frantic son.
Kathy picked up the phone and barely had time to answer when I began to explain that the blanket was in my luggage and I had no idea how it had accidentally been packed. I was in the midst of my apology when Kathy calmed me down with the news that she already knew where the blanket was.
She told me that she had picked Nate up and held him by the window to let him watch me drive away from the house. She had suggested that they pray for “Daddy to have a safe trip.”
Knowing that our son would be most afraid of the small plane ride to the major airport, she prayed, “Dear Lord, please help Daddy feel safe on the little plane.” When the prayer was over, our son Nate spoke up and comforted his mom.
“Don’t worry, Mom, I gave Daddy my blanket to keep him safe.”
I can practically feel the panic that shot through this loving dad when he realized that he had taken the one thing that could settle his toddler! My first action would have been to ship that blanket overnight and pray that it didn’t get lost in the mail! The truth of how much his son loved him was just adorable! I am so glad that he decided to write this story down! It was just so touching.
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