Buckets, beads, and the Imago Dei

The night before last, Matthew got the dreaded Cortisol Dump. According to the books, babies have a natural window within which they need to go to bed, and if they don’t then their system drops a half-pint of stimulant into their bloodstream—no doubt a survival mechanism left over from an era when infants killed off their parents at an early age and ruled the earth.

pac_man_energy_drinkWe saw it coming a long way off. Matthew didn’t sleep well the night before that, which meant that his morning nap came too early, which meant that his afternoon nap came too early, which meant that he took an early evening nap, which meant that he stayed awake through the Magic Window and got the Dump. (I imagine the sound was like when Pac-Man eats an energy pill.)

The downside was that I was tired all yesterday and marked almost nothing off of my to-do list. The upside was that I played games with Matthew all alone until after eleven o’clock, and I was privileged to see exactly where he is:


You would never think it complicated to put something in a bucket, but babies go for months and months with only a destructive instinct: tear down, destroy, dismantle! A patient parent rebuilds the block stack or puts all the beads back in the bucket again and again, but somehow the idea won’t stick. Baby knocks the stack over and empties out the beads, but then just loses interest.

Until that magic day when suddenly baby BUILDS! Matthew put beads IN the bucket, and just last night he tried to put one Duplo brick on another—failing, of course, but that’s beside the point. He actually wanted to recreate ORDER.

If you think about it, that’s huge, and I don’t just mean that he might be able to clean his room one day. The urge to make order is the foundation of the urge to create and organize, which is what Genesis 1 tags as being “in the image and likeness of God”: exercising dominion—not just power—over the surrounding world.

My boy is on his way!

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Author: Dr. Holmes

Dr. Jeremy Holmes teaches Theology at Wyoming Catholic College. He lives in Wyoming with his wife, Jacinta, and their eight children.

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