It seems like it was just a few hours ago that I sat down to write last week’s column. This was just another of those increasingly frequent weeks that are over before you really know they have begun.
At the Baby Dedication service this past Sunday for my youngest grandson, William Sharp Faulk, I learned there are 936 weeks between the time a child is born and their 18th birthday. On the average that’s how much time you have to make an impression on a newborn before they are out on their own, whether to work, college or play.
Will is already 60 weeks old, so the clock is clearly ticking. He can run, jump, laugh, scream, and has discovered his love for sweets. He has a smile that will melt your heart and loves to come to his Granddaddy, which doesn’t make me love him anymore than Henry and Laura but is nice nevertheless.
What will he be like when he turns 18, now only 876 weeks away? Will I be there to share the joy and pain along the journey his parents and sister will share with him? His story will have chapters that will involve all those that touch him along that journey, including some people he will never know.
The pastor said correctly that the lives of Will’s parents have been changed forever. They will get even less sleep than before. Just as the diaper phase ends, soccer and sports begin. They will bath, feed, and care for him even as their own clock speeds through the remaining weeks of his childhood.
Of the three baptisms, christenings and baby dedications I have attended for my grandchildren, this was the most emotional for me. Perhaps it is just seeing my two daughters, with their husbands and children together, all committed to raising their children with God’s guiding hand.
With dedicated and involved parents in a faith based home, these grandchildren already have a head start on the world. There will be bumps and challenges along the journey. Anyone that ever had a teenager knows raising a child isn’t all a fairytale.
My own church made a commitment at the infant baptism of my daughters that the congregation would also nurture them and help raise them. They kept that promise long past the 936 weeks it took for my children to leave home. The church keeps that covenant today, long after these girls found their way into the world.
In some small way, I hope to help build that foundation for Henry and Laura and now Will. Grandparents have a different place in this journey. My promise to them includes attending hundreds of ball games and dance recitals, eating at their favorite restaurants, staying up past bedtime, and giving them sugar, plenty of sugar.
It is also a promise of unconditional love, a safe place to share their feelings and another home besides their own where God is present and alive.
Will Faulk inherited my cowlick, but we share much more than this. He is part of me and no matter where he goes in life, there is nothing that will change that. I like to think that is part of God’s gift to me.
The pastor’s prayer for the seven kids that were present at this particular service was one that we should offer for all children, whether ours or not. We should pray these children will all be someone who loves God, someone who loves people and someone who really lives.
What more can we wish for those we love most?
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org