Thursday, May 29, 2008

Class of 2020

He sat in the wrong seat.

I couldn't stop the giggles when my son put on his little cap and sash for graduation. I was one of those moms with the proud look on my face and the "he's so cute" phrases holding my trusty camera and taking picture after picture.

Nauseating, I know.

Still. Those freckles and big, blue eyes outlined with long lashes were nothing but adorable and I couldn't help myself.

He walked into the room to the graduation song piped out from a stereo in the corner. He was one of the shortest kids although he didn't seem to notice this little fact. When he got to the stage, he decided to break his place in line and go for any chair that he could find.

Now, most moms would realize that this would pose a problem considering that most ceremonies of this nature alphabetize the children's names. I was too busy smiling, waving, and clicking the camera to pay attention.

Therefore, they called someone else's name and there was Sleepy sitting in the wrong chair. He still went up to get the certificate, though. My Sleepy. In his own world. The gentleman was very kind, but told him to have a seat until his name was called.

He had to wait a few more times and probably thought he wasn't going to get one, but eventually, the man called his name. He actually turned to look to make sure no one was going to get up and then went forward. He said his favorite subjects were Math, Phonics, and Art. He is going to be a police officer someday, he said.

This is the same child that came so close to dying at birth. I guess it stands to reason that I was so busy smiling and taking pictures.

My beautiful baby boy. Congratulations, sweetie!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Backbones and Guts

When I was in high school, I finally found my backbone and stood up for myself. I was a little old for that, but better late than never, right?

I always hated confrontations of any kind. I ran from them like a little coward. I was a people pleaser and hated it when things were not "right with the world".

There was a girl around my age who went to my church and we also attended high school together. I considered her my best friend although she was hardly a good friend to me at times. Maybe she was under a lot of pressure to be "cool", but she repeatedly bullied me and threatened to beat me to a pulp although she never did throw a punch.

One day, I had had enough. She had given me another one of her threats about taking me to the parking lot outside and bashing me to the ground when I turned around, looked her in the eye, and said, "I've had enough of you. I'm done. I'm not scared of you anymore and I want you to leave me alone." I had no intention of putting up my dukes to prove my point, but when she saw the stony determination in my face, she backed down. That was the end of our friendship, but it was a relief for me that was years in coming. It took me a while, but I will always remember that situation as a turning point in my backbone's life.

Yesterday, I was helping Sleepy put his shirt on for our sojourn outside. I turned him around and noticed small, fading bruises on his back. I gasped. "Sleepy!" I exclaimed. "You have bruises all over your back! Who is hurting you, sweetie? Is it one of your brothers who are being too rough with you when you guys play together?" He informed me that no, it wasn't one of his brothers. It was the neighbor boy. My son told me how the neighbor boy will punch him and be mean to him whenever he gets mad at Sleepy for some reason.

I felt rage churning in my gut for that little four-year-old boy who looks two years older than he really is. I turned Sleepy around and took his little face in my hands. Looking into his eyes, I said, "Don't you ever let anyone hurt you, Sleepy," I said softly. "You stand up for yourself!" I could still see the uncertainty in his eyes. I knew exactly what he was feeling. If he stood up for himself, what would happen? Would that boy still be his friend which he so desperately wanted?

I let Sleepy go play and turned to his older brother, Grumpy. I gave him an order. "Don't you ever let anyone hurt your little brother. Ever," I said stonily. I looked him hard in the eyes and I could see he understood.

Sleepy may be older before he has an epiphany. Like me, it may take years for him to find the courage to stand up for himself. In the meantime, though, the boys will learn family loyalty. There's five of them, for Pete's sake. I think if they all stood together, they would be formidable. No matter how old they are.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Precocious Intruder

There is a boy in our neighborhood who has discovered that there are five boys living in the house across the street from him.

Since then, there has been no end to the ringing of the doorbell. That is, if the door is locked. If the door happens to be unlocked, much to my dismay he will walk right into our house without even knocking first.

The child is only four, and yet I have come to the point where I am on pins and needles.

Just two days after playing with the lost boys, he joined us for dinner twice. To this day, I'm not quite sure he had permission. At least, I can say that we taught him that he should pray for his food before he gobbles it up. At one point, he started digging in before we could pray. I said, "Wait! Wait! We have to pray first!" He said, "Huh?" in confusion. I said, "We have to thank God for providing this food for us." He scrunched up his face and exclaimed, "You mean Jesus?" Bashful asked sarcastically, "What! You never heard of him?" Swinging my head around in shock, I informed Bashful of his rudeness. Trying to smooth over the situation, we folded our hands and prayed for our food.

Through the rumor mill, which is Grumpy, I was informed that his mother does not want him to go into our house. Smart of her. I agree. I'm just not sure he agrees. Whenever it is time for us to eat our dinner, he loudly exclaims interest in eating with us. I will tell him to go ask if he can and shove Grumpy out the door telling him to make sure. They always come back with contradictory answers. One of them says, "Yes, of course, he's allowed to eat with us," and the other informs me with the truth. So, I have to practically shove the child out the door before someone gets in trouble. Hopefully, not me.

Before we had the guts to put our collective feet down, Doc and I weren't sure how to treat this little person who constantly invaded our privacy. For our peace of mind and his mother's, we've had to be firm with him and not let him in again.

Therefore, when he wanted to come inside to use our bathroom with Sleepy, we informed him he should go in his own house. We thought that was the end of it and shut the door. I went back into the kitchen and Doc looked out the window to make sure he got across the street alright.

"What the...?! He's peeing in front of our house!" exclaims Doc just seconds later. He swings around and grabs his head while I stood there in shock holding the spatula in mid-air. I remembered a time when my own boys thought of doing the same thing, although I stopped them just in time. I dryly replied, "Well, it IS what boys do."

Yesterday, I went to the doorbell and took off the cover. I was actually trying to find a way to disable it.

The Lord's Will

How many times have I prayed.....

Dear God,
Please protect my children and keep them safe.

Dear God,
Give my children wisdom and help them make good decisions.

Dear God,
Help me teach my children to know You and Your Word.

Dear God,
Keep us together. Don't let my children die. Please don't take them from me. I wouldn't be able to survive it.

Dear God,
Please don't let my children become homosexuals. Give them good, Christian women whom they will love.

Dear God,
Keep my children close to You, so that if it is Your will that they leave this Earth, they will be with You in Heaven. To know that my children will be with You is a peaceful balm for my soul.

So many people have prayed these prayers. People who love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and strength. People who pray and read their Bibles every day. People who worship Him with fellow believers on Sunday mornings. People who endeavour to know God more. Yet, they still lose their children in some form or fashion. Children who die from cancer. Children who get run over by cars. Children who turn their backs on God and who are destined for eternal separation from Him. Children who are taken from their beds at night by strangers.

We cannot always keep them safe and in our arms. There even comes a point when we cannot even tell them what they should believe. They must make that decision on their own and we can only sit back and watch. We always wonder if what we are doing is the best we can do. Are we teaching them about God to the best of our ability? Are we imparting enough wisdom? Are we praying for them enough? Are we keeping them safe?

It all comes down to trust and that is a very hard thing to do. I don't know the plans God has for my children. So here is one more prayer that I will pray....

Dear God,
Help me to trust You and to know that Your will is perfect. Give me peace.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6,7

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Gushy Thoughts

I have a love-hate relationship with my dog. Yes. I said "my dog". Today, I am feeling benevolent towards the creature because she hasn't caused too much trouble lately, but only by the skin of her teeth. When she does something bad she is "Doc's dog" or "that stupid dog".

I remember the day we got her. Doc took us way out into the country to the German Shepherd Rescue Foundation which happened to be someone's house and a fenced-in area for the neglected dogs.

Grumpy was about 18 months old and I remember him teetering around in the yard while we looked at the dogs. There was a humongous male and a small female and Doc was interested in the female, of course, because he's "so straight he can't even pet a male animal" he once told me.

She was small for a German shepherd and I liked the look of her "black saddle". She was already full-grown at nine months old.

I did not want to be there. I did not want a dog. I knew how much work they are to take care of. I adore animals, but once they enter my house, what starts out as a beautiful friendship quickly turns downhill.

I thought she was a pretty animal and my heart turned as I looked into her sad eyes and yet I still just shook my head and told Doc that if he wanted her it was fine with me. It wasn't really "fine", but since I loved my husband and realized he had to have a dog (I think it might be a "man thing"), I let him bring the dog home with us. He named her Leigh because it was a unisex name and he didn't want a dog like that to have a prissy, girly name.

So. Thus began years of diarrhea, tears, gags, wrath, and Pine-Sol. Now she is about 7 years old and it was only recently that I realized something.

I love her as much as I hate her.

There was a time when I could have given her away, but for some reason, I couldn't do it. The thought of it brought me to tears and I couldn't bear the thought. I thought something was wrong with me. After all these years of screaming at her and cleaning up after her, you would think I would be calling everyone I know asking, "Do you want a dog? Please take her."

This morning, it is raining. We don't get much precipitation where we live, so it was a treat to see the dark sky as we woke and listen to the pitter-patter on the roof. I opened the back door and let Leigh outside to do her business and went to sit in the living room chair for a few minutes to look out the window and watch the rain fall.

I was reflecting on Leigh and her bad and good habits. She is a doofy dog. She knows that she is not allowed to get into the trash. The dog is smart enough to know that. The thing is, though, she doesn't care. She would rather have a few minutes of doggie bliss knowing of the impending danger of being caught than no doggie bliss at all.

One morning, I opened the back door to call for Leigh and there she was right there on the back patio. One of the garbage cans had fallen over due to the wind and she had her nose in there tearing at one of the bags. As I opened the door, she looked up at me and froze. Her expression was one part "oh crap!" and one part defiance. Once I grabbed a hold of her, though, she was smart enough to be scared. She was relegated to the garage which is the place she stays when I am angry with her.

Leigh also has her good habits. She is a bona-fide alarm system. We don't need to pay hundreds of dollars for one of those techno-gadgets that hang on the wall. Our alarm system will rip your throat out if you dare to enter our house uninvited. She loves to scare the pants off of door salesmen or men in uniform. I swear I could see her snicker in doggie fashion one time when a MarGas man almost wet his pants when she scared the living daylights out of him.

It is funny to me that the one person who hates her the most in this family probably loves her the most as well. Doc can stay logical and say "she's just a dog" while I look at her in the garage and feel sorry for her even though it was me who put her there in the first place.

All of these thoughts went through my head as I stared out at the rain. I also realized something else.

She makes me feel safe.

The gushy feeling immediately disintigrated as I blinked into the falling rain. There was Leigh crossing the road into the neighbor's yard. Muttering under my breath, I yanked the front door open and yelled, "Leigh! Get over here you mangy animal! You are not allowed to cross the road, dummy!" She slinks back and runs into the house as fast as she can before I could slam the door on her tail and runs for the garage.

She knows she is in the dog house yet again. For now.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Quite the Character

It was Sleepy's turn to go out to breakfast with Doc last Saturday. When they got home, Doc asked with exasperation, "Why is it our children always have to fart in public?" He said that when they were waiting for the hostess to seat them, he got a whiff and had to move away.

"Ha," I said. With my voice riddled with sarcasm, I said, "That's nothing. This morning, I was giving the boys a bath. I turned on the water and as they jumped into the tub, Sleepy announced, 'I have to go poop!' So, he gets on the toilet and proceeds to stink up the bathroom. I yelled, 'Sleepy!' but since there was really nothing I could do about it, I had to endure the stench while lathering up Happy's hair.

Two seconds later, Sleepy jumps off and says, 'All done!' I looked into the toilet and there was nothing there. The kid had stunk up the bathroom by farting."

A couple days later, the boy was on his knees coloring a picture when he put too much pressure on the crayon and it broke. He showed me the broken crayon and I said, "Wow! You sure are strong!" He said matter-of-factly, "Yeah." Then he looks at me with exasperation. "It's because you made me eat my green beans!" he said.

Happy came upstairs to my bedroom one time and announced that Sleepy had kicked him out of the tent. Sleepy had followed him up the stairs, so I told him to say he was sorry to Happy. He rubs Happy's arm and says he's sorry. Then Happy told on him again and I told Sleepy to apologize. He exclaimed, "Again?!" in amazement. I said, "Of course, again!"

The child is turning out to be quite the character.