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A preschooler’s thoughts about his unborn sibling are wisdom for the world

FAMILY
Shutterstock
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This 4-year-old's perspective is adorable, but also speaks to a deep truth.

“We have something important to tell you, Juniper!”

Juniper came over, somewhat cautiously. He’s four, and important news isn’t always news he likes. He wanted to know, “Is it a fun surprise?”

My husband and I had a quick, silent exchange of looks regarding who’d get to spill the news. I let him do the honors. “We are going to have a new baby! Mama has a baby in her belly right now, and next year, the baby will be born.”

Juniper had a lot of questions, but mainly, he was thrilled. We talked about how big the baby was (the size of his thumb) and when we’d be able to feel the kicking. Apart from a devastating  misunderstanding, where he thought my first ultrasound appointment was the day we would get to take the baby out and bring them home, it’s been nothing but wonder and joy from him.

Writing in the sky

Driving to down to the coast for a day at the beach, the day we broke the news, I realized just how huge this information has been to my firstborn. It was a hot weekend, and a group of small airplanes was busy skywriting. It was, I believe, an advertisement for “hot summer fun” at a casino nearby.

Juniper can’t read yet, but he knew exactly what the words said: “Mama! Those airplanes are celebrating the new baby, I bet! That’s what they’re doing, right?”

He was right. Or, rather, he wasn’t wrong.

Not that the advertisers in the sky knew anything about my third child. He was right that when a new baby is conceived, the whole universe celebrates. Whether it knows it or not, creation has gotten richer with this new life. My family’s joy is something everybody has a right to take part in.

I told him that the angels and saints in heaven all cheered and clapped and jumped up and down, the day God put that new baby in my belly. Maybe those airplane pilots didn’t know that they had any reason to celebrate, but a new baby is a gift to the whole universe.

The center of the universe

We just came back from getting that first, magical ultrasound. You can’t see much of the baby, besides telling her head from her feet. What you can see, what always startles me, is the shape of the womb. There is the baby, a little black-and-grey blur, and surrounding her is the perfect blackness of the world she is floating in.

It’s so simple. It’s so impossibly simple. There is your baby, and there is her world. All of it takes up less than a grapefruit’s worth of space inside of me. It reminds me of those pictures the astronauts took of Earth, from their vantage point in space. There, floating in the darkness, is your whole world. Everything that matters to you is there, framed by the camera. You know that the Earth is big, but here, it seems small.

My womb is this baby’s whole world. The baby is the only thing in that world. She is everything. She’s so big, a human being with an eternal soul, and yet, so small — a creature the size of my four-year-old’s thumb. Whatever her size, she is eternal, mysterious, and unfathomably precious.

My son understood exactly that — that his new sibling is important enough that it would make total sense for the world to drop everything and rejoice in her existence, from the ground to the sky.

There are so many people in the world. But people are not like gold or diamonds, where the more the world has, the less value we give them. It is not our scarcity that determines our worth.

Christ, they say, died for each of us, not for all of us. If you’d been the only person in the world, he would have died for only you. You are not one among many, you are the whole world to Him, because love is always personal, never abstract.

To my son, of course, who has no idea of how many new babies the world has, there is only his new baby. His love, because of his child’s perspective, understands a truth that so many adults forget. Every baby is as important as if they were the only baby on the face of the Earth.

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