Billy! Billy, come back here.

Billy is three years old. His mother was outside with another half dozen volunteers hiding Easter eggs. He was supposed to be inside playing with his sister. Instead he was sobbing and running blindly among cars in the church parking lot. I dropped my rubbermaid tubs and lit after him.

Mama. Mama.

He was screaming and ropes of snot and spit hung off his face.

Billy boy, Billy boy. What’s the matter?

I want my mama. I don’t know where she’s at.

He took off running, and I grabbed for his windbreaker hood, missed, took after him again and caught him. This time I picked him up and held him, wriggling like a baby.

She’s right there working, and she wanted you to have fun playing ball inside. Isn’t playing ball fun?

I pointed off in the distance at a woman in a brown sweatshirt who I was pretty sure was his mom. She was dropping bright plastic eggs with candy tucked inside into the wet, green grass.

I want her. He wailed and rubbed his snot on my new sweater.

Well, I said and gave up. Let’s go find her, then. Can you walk?


I shifted him to my hip and began picking my way across the muddy lot.

The church is in a wide, grassy field. His mother was on the far side of it. As we got closer he stopped crying and started sniffling.

Jeepers, I said. You’re heavy.

Yeah, he said a little dreamily.

It’s probably because you’re so old. What are you now? Thirty-five? Forty?

No. I am three years old. But I am getting big and strong because I eat three good meals a day and some healthy snacks.
He was grave as a professor.

Oh. That makes sense.

Do you think I’ll get candy today?

I’m sure of it.

He grinned and then wriggled free of me and ran the last few feet to where his mom was. He dove hard at her knees and shouted mama.

I’m sorry. He wouldn’t stay inside with the others.

His mom sighed and shook her head, and Billy began spinning in wide, airplane circles and singing to himself.

Psalm 131
A song of ascents. Of David.
My heart is not proud, O LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.

But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.