A couple of days ago I left Nicholas in my parents' care for a couple of hours while I went to visit a friend. He played happily, I'm told, until I called my mother to say that I'd be there to pick him up in five or ten minutes. "Oh no," said Nicholas, when he heard that I was coming, "we haven't cleaned up the toys yet -- and I still have to preach!" So my mother, much amused, took him downstairs to tidy up, and then set up his chosen "pulpit", an old TV tray.
"You play," commanded Nicholas, pointing to the piano.
"What should I play?" asked my mother, sitting down.
"Play 'Jesus Loves Me'," said Nicholas, but as soon as she started to comply he interrupted, "No, not yet! Wait 'till I tell you!" So my mother dutifully stopped, and waited until Nicholas had finished going through his mysterious preparations. Then he turned to her and said with great relish,
"Take it away!"
My mother nearly fell off the piano stool. But she managed to recover somehow, and played through several repetitions of the hymn Nicholas had selected, stopping and starting on cue. Then, feeling that this game was becoming a bit tedious, she said, "Mommy will be here soon. Aren't you going to preach?"
"Yes," said Nicholas, solemnly opening his hymnbook. "I'm going to preach on Genesis 5." (Which is, says my mother, the chapter he always picks, though we have no idea why.) There was a slight pause, while my mother wondered what sort of interesting new theology was going to come out of this "sermon", and then --
"Oh no! I've left my notes at home!"
* * *
The story about Simon is a good deal shorter. I was lying in bed this afternoon, not really sleeping but in a comfortable sort of doze, when he toddled in and peered up at me over the edge of the mattress. "Up, mommy," he begged in desperate tones, "Up! Up!" So I sleepily reached out and pulled him up onto the bed beside me.
At which point my darling twenty-month-old son leaned over, bumped me with his head, and said quite distinctly: