Apparently toddlers love repetition. Read the story one (or ten) more times. Play/Sing the song just one (or twenty) more times. I bear the repetitions as best I can, reading the book or listening to/singing the song again and again, even when I have reached the end of my own interest. I know it’s common enough behavior, and yet the fruit of this behavior in my own son has caught me off guard more than once.
I once had an inkling that through the repetitions my son was trying to memorize things. And over and again he has confirmed my suspicions. He’ll pick up a favorite book and retell the story as he turns through the pages. He’ll sing along word for word with a song or, even more surprising to me, at times burst into singing a favorite song even without the accompaniment of the radio. It all makes me marvel at the way his little brain is working and learning.
I once read that a baby needs around 1,000 repetitions of a word to learn it, and that a toddler needs around 50 repetitions. This seems like an awful lot of repetition! Yet, at the same time I know that I need the benefit of repeated lessons just as much. I need to be reminded over and over about how important prayer is. Not that I have to sit in silence for an hour every morning (because that is not happening these days with two young children!), but the importance of pausing for brief moments throughout my day to acknowledge God’s presence and listen for God’s voice in the midst of my own repetitive tasks. I need to be reminded over and over about the value of remaining connected to my faith community and friends, especially in these days of physical distancing when it is more difficult to feel connected. I need to be reminded over and over about how I am loved by God, just as I am, and there is nothing I can do that will make God love me more.
I am thankful for God’s willingness to repeat these lessons for me, and I hope that I can have just an ounce of the same kind of patience with my son as we read the story just one – more – time.