Teaching Joy

isaacBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

With his hand in the shape of a C, he touches his eye and lifts it to the sky as a smile appears on his mouth. He has spotted “the moon.” Even before the world has words, he knows joy.

It is a rare and powerful gift we have as parents to be able to teach joy. The first time it snowed this year, I picked him up and we ran out the door and danced in circles laughing in celebration of the flurries. Now each time, we see a snowflake or two, he signs “snow” and begins to dance.

While I have been tremendously excited as Isaac has found his speech in new words like te spoo (aka tea spoon) or jing bong (aka jingle bells), I think the word I have loved the most is “yay.” It is a word we can share together to express our awe and delight. And we can get louder the more exciting it is! Each morning when we drop mama off downtown, we see the Christmas lights on the giant tree and we both yell “yay” and emphatically sign “beautiful” over our faces. And now, each time Isaac sees Christmas lights or an evergreen tree, it is yay!

I am certainly grateful to have helped teach him not to eat dirt or how to neigh like a horse, but I am most grateful to be able to foster joy in another human being. As he grows, he will decide on his own what brings out that emphatic yay within him and I will delight to see what those things are. But for now, I saver the moments when part of my parenting responsibility is to give into my own joy and share it with him. We have a blast together. And I pray, that nurturing and honoring his expressions of awe encourage him to grow into a man who never fails to point out the moon and smile.

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