I had a really amazing childhood. When you’re going around the room telling where you’re from and I share my story about growing up in the jungle, I always feel a little bad for the person who comes after me. It’s not that their childhood wasn’t great, it’s just that it’s hard in that context to make suburbs and Barbies sound interesting again.
I remember this moment in college when my perception of childhoods took a dramatic shift. It was just a regular day, one where I was half heart-broken and standing helplessly by as my college crush fell hard for one of my friends. I don’t actually remember many of the details of this particular story I’m sharing, which is strange because it made such a strong impression on my psyche, but I do remember this: at some point, a memory was shared from her childhood, her Barbies-and-suburbs childhood. Her family had gone to Disneyland, and it was the very end of that magical day. Main Street, which is usually crowded and chaotic, was empty, a stage waiting for them to jazz it up with their glitzy personalities. So she and her mother, a natural-born performer, began to skip down the wide open cobbled streets of that magical land. I think some of the details have been filled in by my own imagination of that moment, but I hear loud singing of mermaid songs and see the most abandoned sort of frolic you can dream up.
As you might have guessed, I am the natural-born daughter of a non-frolicker. We did a lot of exciting things growing up, but that was never really on the docket. Volcanic Balinese mountains, witch doctor converts, pet mongoose, and midnight midwifery? Yes. Disneyland frolicking? Um, no.
And that was that. Game over.
As I was typing that last sentence, my almost-2-year-old woke up crying from his nap. Real tears. “Nun-der,” he told me as big tears rolled down his cheeks. Nunder, otherwise known as thunder, is one of his very favorite things. I’m not sure if this is an innate love or one I’ve cultivated in him by pulling him outside with me every time there’s a storm. Either way, since the time he could articulate that word, he’s consistently expressed a desire for some nunder. It can be a clear day, and he’ll ask us to magically produce that BOOM he likes so much. His longing was most severe during a recent trip to Michigan, where David carefully explained that only God can give him nunder. This was followed by Judah’s first self-motivated prayer out loud. I wanted there to be a crack of thunder, right there, as soon as my little son uttered that prayer. But there were no clouds, no thunder, just a silent sky. He would have to wait.
Since then, he’s gotten to experience several great storms. I can think of at least four times in the past month that we’ve been out on the porch watching for lightning and waiting for the brilliant finish, the nunder.
Besides making it a point to be a frolicker myself (it can be taught!), I want my kids to know that: God hears our prayers, wants to give us things that make our hearts glad, and wants us to want Him most of all. The farther I travel from the moment I realized I could not reinvent myself to be a natural frolicker, the more I understand that I don’t need to. I was fixated on something I couldn’t be for someone I couldn’t have. It was someone else’s nunder, but my own beautiful storm was coming. I just had to wait.