“Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth:
unite my heart to fear thy name.” Psalm 86:11
PRAYER: Ah, dear Lord, thank you for sharing with me! Thank you for sharing your Son and your Holy Spirit! Without the love of your son and the work of your holy comforter in my life, I would be empty and lost. Help me to share you with those in the world around me. May I have a sense of mission and the wisdom to know how and when to share.
THOUGHT: Generosity starts at home. Teaching Baby to share is doubtless first “caught” and then “taught.” Just as we love God because he first loved us, so Baby will learn to care for others by observing and feeling the benefit of your tender care for him.
ACTIVITY: Mission: Once Baby starts making little forays into walking between objects, you can encourage him not only by offering him hugs or tasty tidbits when he reaches you, but you can also send him on little missions to take things to someone sitting not far away. You can either use a small toy and/or—more likely to be pleasing to Baby—have two small baggies of treats like cheerios, fresh peas, or blueberries (although the toy is more likely to work as something to send on “missions” to the parent). While baby is standing at your knee and your husband is perched on a seat not far away, give Baby one pea to eat. As soon as he’s done, say, “Take this to Daddy!” and put something in his hand, while helping him turn around so he’s in the right direction to take off and go to his father. If you give him another pea but he just eats it, don’t be surprised. Use a small stuffed animal to send, but when he gets to his father, have your husband ask if he may have whatever Baby’s carrying. If Baby gives it to him, be sure he gets lots of praise! Then, repeat the game, having Daddy give Baby a treat to eat and then sending him off with a gift for Mommy. This is a good way to express affection and practice sharing while helping Baby masters his walking skills. 331. If You Love Me, Invest in My Growth!
“But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.” 1 Thessalonians. 4:9
PRAYER: Oh, LORD God, thank you that you have made us a part of the family of God. Thank you for every brother and sister I have in the faith. Help me to love my biological siblings, to pray for them and be involved in their lives, as well as loving my church family, the “body of Christ.” Teach us how to love each other and to become “one in the spirit,” even as you—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—are one.
THOUGHT: I hope you don’t think I’m recommending spending too much money on toys. Many toys are unnecessary, and with imagination and creativity, many toys can be improvised out of household items. But, think of sturdy, good toys as an asset to Baby’s intellectual development, and if necessary, consider adding a small space in your budget for toys. A few well made toys will last throughout the childhood of all your children, and we have a big box of toys in our basement that are now serving the needs of our grandchildren! So, buy with much thought, think “sturdy,” and enjoy your investment!
ACTIVITY: A spinning top is a classic toy and has a certain timelessness that makes it fun for young and old. Many come with patterns of color inside that change as the top spins, and some come with beads or marbles inside that make noise when the top is spun. Older siblings can quickly learn to spin a top for the delight of Baby, and if the children take turns seeing who can spin it the fastest or keep it going the longest, then spinning the top can make an engaging game for quite a while.
“As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you;
and ye shall be comforted.” Isaiah 66:13
PRAYER: Dear Father, please give me the grace to be extremely patient with Baby, to be gentle, forgiving, kind, “not easily provoked,” to “think no evil,” to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things, and never fail, as we’re taught in 1 Corinthians 13. Sigh. When I fail—which of course I’ve done many times and will continue to do again—please help me to be quick to admit my failures to baby, and please bless him with a forgiving spirit too!
THOUGHT: My mother often tried something new with Aaron that I hadn’t thought of yet, and it delighted all of us to see how quickly he could “catch on” to new games. My hope is that reading the ideas in this book will give you food for thought to guide you into trying some creative possibilities that might not have occurred to you already, but for any ideas that are premature, please just tuck them into the storehouse of your mind so that you develop a reservoir of activities to draw from as Baby develops.
ACTIVITY: On a quiet day when Baby isn’t feeling too bouncy, try making formations out of dominoes. Start by setting up a small line of four or five end up and about a half an inch apart on the kitchen table or somewhere with a very smooth surface. Show him how you can gently tip over the first one and that will cause the entire group to fall over. Each time, add a few more pieces until you have a very long chain. Try to get him to wait until you are done, but let him tip the first one over to cause the downfall of the entire set if he can be gentle and patient. This will be very good for teaching him patience. Also, if you want to get a bit philosophical, you can use this game to discuss the idea of “action and reaction” later on. Everything we do has an effect on our environment!
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
PRAYER: Oh King of the Ages, King Eternal, God before time…lead us! Thank you for giving us Christ as the perfect model of kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness! Help us to love and forgive others even as you have forgiven us for Jesus’ sake.
THOUGHT: Remember in all your child training that “precept must be upon precept…line upon line…here a little and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10). Try to teach, but if Baby isn’t interested now, he might be later. One of my babies was such a perfectionist that he wouldn’t try anything unless he was quite confident he could do it. Some of the others were eager to try anything…even if they failed. Don’t punish children for being clumsy or for being timid. Give Baby lots of freedom to grow at his own pace.
ACTIVITY: How about a song that’s bound to be fun for both Baby and his friends:
This Old Man
“This old man, he played one; he played knick-knack on my thumb!”
Refrain: “With a knick-knack paddy whack, give your dog a bone;
This old man came rolling home!”
(Also sing the refrain at end of each verse below)
“This old man, he played two; He played knick-knack on my shoe!
“This old man, he played three; He played knick-knack on my knee!
“This old man, he played four; He played knick-knack on our door!
“This old man, he played five;He knick-knacked on an old beehive! “This old man, she played six; He knick-knacked on fiddlesticks!
“This old man, he played seven; He knick-knacked ‘till he went to heaven.
“This old man, he played eight; He knick-knacked on our front gate!
“This old man, he played nine; He knick-knacked upon my spine!
“This old man, he played ten; Then he played knick-knack once again!”
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
PRAYER: Dear Father, you are the judge of all the earth…our judge, our “Shophet.” Thank you for being completely righteous and true. Thank you that you can see right through the externals of our lives and can discern the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Please help me to remember that you will always do right, and that you tell me to leave all “revenge” to you. May I learn to turn the other cheek, return blessing for cursing, and overcome evil with good. Help me to be a wise and kind lawgiver and law enforcer in my home. Keep me from harshness, and give me the ability to make righteous judgments.
THOUGHT: There may be times when you feel like an angry mother bear wanting to protect your cub from rough or rude children. Bear in mind God’s gracious, “royal law”: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (James 2:8). Rowdy children need attention, kindness, and to experience the love of Christ modeled for them.
ACTIVITY: Here’s a game you can play with Baby and toddlers, depending on how well your baby understands and how mobile she is. It’s the “Where is the______? Will you bring it to me?” game. Gather the children around your knee and ask, “Where is the _________?” (pillow, doll, ball, cushion, shoe, book, etc.). Have them look around until one of them spots it and points to it. You can let the child who saw it first retrieve it, or you can let the children take turns. If Baby is intimidated by older playmates, hold her on your lap and let her hold out her hands to receive the toys. If just you and Baby are playing, you can ask her and let her retrieve the objects and bring them to you. Be sure to offer lots of excited approval as each discovery and retrieval is accomplished!
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
PRAYER: Oh Abba, Father, thank you for Jesus, who is our mediator and intercessor! Help me to be a soothing influence in the lives of my children and all their friends.
THOUGHT: One of my favorite stories about Grandpa Alan from his childhood was how his mother used to help end the inevitable little tiffs that he would have with his cousin and best friend, Billy, who lived just two doors away. They played together almost every day, but if they got in an argument and couldn’t seem to work it out, Great Grandma Alma would call the youngsters in to the kitchen and give Alan a nickel, instructing the boys to go over to the little store across the street and pick out a popsicle to split between them. Grandpa recalls that somehow the privilege and business of selecting and splitting a popsicle seemed to sidetrack them from their petty disagreement, and soon they’d be best of friends again!
ACTIVITY: Popsicles are great not only for bringing sunshine to stormy friendships but also for soothing the sore gums of teething toddlers! You can make popsicles while Baby and others look on by dissolving a package of instant Jello in half a cup of boiling water, letting it cool, and combining it with 1.5 cups of favorite juice (or mashed fruit) and then freezing it in popsicle molds, which can be found with kitchen supplies in many shops during the summer months. If you don’t have molds, you can freeze the mixture in ice cube trays using popsicle sticks or plastic spoons inserted into each section for a handle. Freeze for 2 hours or until frozen solid, and then loosen by setting the pan in an inch of warm water until you can wiggle the “pops” free.
“A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance:
but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” Proverbs 15:13
PRAYER: Dear Father, I know that Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Thank you that he can identify with our pain. I also know he came that we might have abundant life and that your Holy Spirit produces joy in us. Please bless our family with both your comfort during trials and your joy as we enjoy the life you’ve given us.
THOUGHT: Almost twelve months old! As Baby matures, it is good to consciously work on both “manipulative” and “imaginative” types of play. Manipulative play is where you are working together on improving mechanical skills, such as how to open a jar or crank a jack-in-the-box. Imaginative play is where you are practicing symbolic and creative ideas, such as flapping your arms up while pretending to fly like a bird, or crawling around on your hands and knees barking like a puppy or mewing like a kitten.
ACTIVITY: If it’s summer time, how about an excursion playing with trucks in the sand somewhere, pretending to build a grand hotel, or playing with toy boats in the water? If it’s wintertime, what about an imaginary tea party using tiny plastic cups and dolls? When my two sisters and I were little, we used to use acorn caps for “fairy” teacups and built dollhouses out of pine cones, sticks, pebbles, and moss. Baby will be too little for such complicated play at this stage, but he might be able to enjoy watching you set up the dollies or stuffed animals with little cups and pretend to pour out tea. You might clap the dollies hands together and pretend that they are talking by using different voices. “Yuk it up!” as they say, and have lots of fun!