I watched you this morning at your 4-month well-baby exam. You cooed, smiled winningly at the nurses, and tried to demonstrate how well you could control your arm and leg motions (even if the individual fingers and toes are still out of control). You smiled bigger as your sleeper and onesie were taken off; I don't know of a single male who would disagree with the statement that "Naked is always better."
You looked at me as I held your legs straight, and I watched your expression change rapidly to one of fear and pain as two nurses gave you your 4-month vaccinations. Your face turned bright red, you quickly squeezed both eyes shut, and you began screaming as hard as your little lungs would allow... tears ran down your small cheeks. I kissed you and made sure I was murmuring comfortingly in your ear, but the wails only got louder when a third needle (for the final shot) was stabbed into your right thigh.
I quickly lifted you into my arms, cuddled against my chest in just your diaper, a blanket swaddled around you. I kissed and cuddled and soothed to my utmost, and you quieted in a matter of moments at the sound of my voice. Throughout it all, you trusted me.
There will come a day when you're old enough to know I actually requested those nurses to approach you with needles. There may come a day when you don't trust me even after the shots are done. Years from now, you may even understand that I asked for that pain so that greater pain - watching you wrack your little chest with heart-rending coughs, fighting a fever that might leave your limbs paralyzed - could be avoided.
Today I was the cause of your pain, but I was also the one protecting you from greater pain - and I was the one who stayed with you the rest of the day, holding you when you needed comfort; giving you pain medication when your cries told me you didn't understand what hurt or why; distracting you with bright colors or playtime...
I put you in your car seat after your doctor's appointment, saw the trust in your bright blue eyes - and I cried. I love you so much, Nathan... You favor me with your smiles. I relish your delight at hearing my voice, quieting when I sing to you or read you a book. Your dad and I will continue trying to make wise decisions until you're old enough to make them yourself.
You may not always trust me. I won't ever take the loss of your trust lightly, but I will not allow my desire for your understanding to take a higher priority than my love for you - love that wants what is best for you, regardless of what it costs me.
Today I looked into the trusting eyes of my son and felt something: I felt just the smallest part of what God must feel for me.