We started out the day with Kittyboy demonstrating a previously unknown talent - he can find the Mother of God in ANY icon. I knew he liked his Mary very much, but apparently he's been paying closer attention than I thought. He brought me our Ethiopian diptych this morning. It's Our Lady of Perpetual Help on one side, St. George on the other. Being Coptic, it's a VERY dramatically different style than our others, and I've never drawn his attention to it because the two icons are held together by thread and I just didn't want him touching it. So he brought it to me this morning, opened, and before I could say "NO, put it BACK," he pointed and signed Mary. This is a surprise because there are four faces in that icon, Mary, Jesus and two angels, and in this particular rendition, they're all about the same size. And they're all the same dark, round-cheeked face with huge dark eyes, nothing like any other icon we own or he's seen. I asked, "Where's Mary?" and he pointed again, and again it was the right face! I don't know by what formula he figured it out, but he knew Mary when he saw her!
So then I took it back to the shelf, and along the way I grabbed one of those plastic zippered bags like bedsheets come in, to fix this wandering icon problem once and for all, and of all the icons we have stacked on that shelf, one was missing. Rublev's Trinity, the Three Hierarchs, both Nativities, the Resurrection and Pentecost were there - our 8x10 of the Transfiguration was gone. Not under books, not under the shelf. GONE.
My first thought, though it may seem strange, was to run into the family room, grab Kittyboy, look him firmly in the eyes, and ask, "Where did you put the Transfiguration? Transfiguration? - Metamorphosis? - the BIG icon with Jesus. Where is it? Go find it!" And he responded in classic toddler fashion. He walked in a little circle, waving his arms. No help there. (What DID I expect?)
So I checked all the usual places - in, on, and under his bed, by the changing pad in the bathroom, on and under the couch, every toybox in the house. It was nowhere. I had about given up when I remembered his current favorite "womb substitute" is behind the couch in the family room, where he squeezes in to sit and then needs help getting out. Bingo! It was back there. He had the right room, at least. Who knows, perhaps the walking in a circle waving his arms meant, "I don't know Mommy, it was somewhere in here!" The kid is too cute for his own good.
So now it is safely esconced in the zippered bag, protected from dust AND the Kittyboy's eager fingers with all the others. Shortly after putting them all away, I heard a grunt and thud from the hallway. I went out, and Kittyboy had pulled the bag off the shelf. He looked at me, signed "help", pulled on the bag again, stood up and signed Mary, pointing at the bag. "Mommy, you have trapped all my Marys in there! Help!" Amazing what can be communicated through gesture alone. He'll learn this is where "his Marys" BELONG now, and somehow he will learn that his picture friends are not actually toys. And I will learn to be happy that my child so adores the saints, and rejoice in his sweet, childish ways of showing that - even if it means retrieving Rublev's Trinity from a toybox. Or the Transfiguration, from his hidey-hole behind the couch.
I'm sure when Christ said, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me", He meant in ALL ways that little children "come unto Him". He meant the children who wanted to run and throw themselves in His lap right then, and Kittyboy giving the little plaster Jesus from our manger scene a ride on his sit-n-spin. He meant the boy with the loaves and fishes, and Kittyboy hugging and kissing his St. Patrick icon - all icons, of all saints, are ultimately of Christ, as they are a depiction of Christ in that person. And Kittyboy kisses Him wherever he finds Him - icons, pendants, the covers of books. I've actually attempted to read him "The Way of a Pilgrim" in that super-enthused voice with which you read to toddlers, just because he keeps bringing me that book - it has an icon of Christ on the front. Kittyboy sits still for about a paragraph at a time.