Published 10:30 pm Tuesday, December 2, 2008

They gotta’ have it. It’s that first gulp of warm, delicious milk produced by their mom. And they gotta’ have it, for only in the first six hours or so is this particular kind of milk produced. It’s different than all the rest, for it contains a special recipe of nutrients and vitamins and antibodies that the calf must have to initially survive. And it sets him off in the right direction so that shaking, wobbly-legged wet calf is in a few short days running through the pasture sniffing dragonflies and playing with his buddies. The somewhat unsettling aspect to it is that if he doesn’t get colostrum when needed, it can affect the rest of his life.

My guess is that it works the same with us. Yes, we needed that first gulp of warm milk, but we also needed some other kinds of “colostrums,” such as:

The touch of a mother’s hand. It was life-giving. It told us we were loved and cherished and wanted. It assured us —when we couldn’t walk or talk or understand words, when all we could do was lie on our backs and cry half the time — that all was well. It was being held and caressed and looked at and spoken to and attended by this grand being called “mother” who showed us off to her friends and thought of us when we slept.

The security of a father’s love. Like the underpinning of a bridge, it undergirded us. The feel of his callused hands told us we were protected by strength and that we were secure. That we could rest. They said “I will provide for you.” They said “I will always be there for you.”

We all needed to see love in action. At that school play we needed to look down in the audience and see mom. At that athletic event, we needed to look up in the stands and see dad. At home, we needed more praise than condemnation, more laughter than sadness. We needed that warm feeling experienced watching dad kiss mom, and then watching them make sacrifices for each other. We needed moms that held their sons when they scraped their knees and dads that told their daughters how great they looked in that dress.

Our little hearts craved all of this stuff. Though it was no way we could say what we desperately wanted, way down deep it was what we desperately needed. It was colostrum.

I know there are quite a few of you who didn’t get much of this stuff. I know because I’ve been out among you. There are some small holes and some big holes that never were filled in. Some great needs that were never met. And you grew up that way and only realized it as you matured.

And today, as a result, you are who you are. All of that stuff shaped the distinct person you are and made you unique in the universe. The “why” of it is far beyond this writer’s understanding.

But we can say this: Many of you have now been called to play a pivotal role in a child’s life at that time when he or she most needs you. You alone possess the colostrum they need.

And so here is my plea: Give it to them. Unabashedly, unreservedly, lavishly, give it to them.

Free them to sniff dragonflies and play with their buddies.