Friday, April 13, 2018

Boo's School

Pikachu looks on as Boo approaches the lane.
It's a long story. Long, difficult, and painful. And it's not mine to tell. If ever Boo decides to tell it, then I will support him. Until then, I will protect his privacy. So let's just say.....It's been a long hard road the last few weeks. It's been messy, scary, sad, confusing, and exhausting. And unfortunately, the struggle was not confined to home. It seeped into school. There were witnesses. 

These are the moments that tear at a mother's heart. I know how cruel kids can be. I remember school. I watch the news. But Boo's friends...the culture at Boo's's different. Boo attends a small private christian school. Despite everything, there has never been a cruel word, a laugh, a joke, a sideways glance, that made him feel less than accepted and loved. Quite the opposite. Day after day I have entered the school with Boo and heard a chorus of happy voices welcoming him. I've walked down the hall past a doorway and heard excited murmurs after students saw me pass by, wondering whether he was back. I've watched at recess, as a friend made a point to sit next to Boo and chat with him when he didn't participate in the game others were playing. 

Most every day, Boo carries with him one of his plush stuffed toys. Characters from the Mario Brothers franchise or Pokemon, usually. The other students not only tolerate this unusual coping strategy, but they welcome it. They interact with the character, and with Boo "through" the character. The teachers allow Luigi or Bowser or Bunnelby to sit atop Boo's desk during class and to be carried through the halls. It's seamless, ordinary, normal.  Boo has a niche here. He belongs. He isn't like the rest. He doesn't talk sports. He isn't up on the latest dance craze or pop music favorite. But he is loved. He is included. He is missed when he isn't there. 

Today I attended a field trip with Boo and his entire school. We went bowling and then out for pizza. I watched his friends chat with him. I watched as he carefully placed his Pikachu just so, perched so that it could "watch" him bowl. I watched him dance free and silly and carefree to the music playing (much too loudly) in the alley. I watched him make Pikachu dance. I soaked it all in with a grateful heart. No one, from kindergartner to eighth grader, seemed to see anything about Boo that was less than they are. Different...but not less. These kids are defying the stereotypes. They are learning so much more than math, science, reading, and history. They are learning to live out the faith they profess. The love of Christ is truly in all that they do, and all that they are. And for that, I grow more thankful every passing day.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Chez Mommy

"Mommy, let's pretend this is a restaurant."

"Ok." (speaking in exaggerated accent) "Good evening, Sir. Welcome to Chez Mommy. How can I serve you this evening?"

(also in exaggerated accent) "I think I would like the chicken with bones."

"Very well, sir. I'll be right back." (speaking into the empty kitchen) "Chef, the gentlemen would like the chicken with bones." (bringing him a chicken leg on a plate) "Here you are, Sir. Is there anything else I can get for you?"

"Yes, I would like a drink."

"What can I get you to drink?"

"I'll have strawberry milk." (stage whispering) "don't forget to tell the chef!"

(speaking into the empty kitchen) "Chef, the gentlemen would like strawberry milk." (setting a cup on the table) "Here is your strawberry milk, Sir."

<minutes pass>

"Oh waiter!"

"Yes Sir, how can I help you?"

"I would have some dessert please."

"What can I get you for dessert?"

"I would like some runts please."

"I'm sorry, Sir, but we are all out of Runts. Can I interest you in a delightful pack of two Starburst?"

"Ooh! TWO desserts! Yes, I will take some Starburst."

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Yesterday I found out that our next door neighbors are moving. As in, they will be out this weekend. There are a few implications with this news:

1) Boo's neighbor kid friends will no longer be neighbors. I do not look forward to giving him this news. I fear he will be heartbroken.

2)The house next door will be available for rent. This always worries me. When we bought our home, the house next door was in the process of being foreclosed and then sold. When it was bought for use as a rental house, I cringed. You just never know what you're going to get when people rent. We have had a great run of really wonderful neighbors thus far, and I hope that continues. Anyone out there want to move in next door to Boo???

3)Finally, and this may be the most crucial point....the people who are getting ready to move planted a garden in their back yard. Some of the vining plants are growing up the fence along our property. The family has been busy and has pretty much been ignoring the garden. If they leave without cleaning out the vegetables from the garden, then those two huge cucumbers that are hanging on our side of the fence...those babies are MINE!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

To Bee or Not to Bee: The sting of fear and anxiety

Boo recently developed a fear of bees. I'm not sure where this fear originated exactly. He's never had an encounter with a bee. He did rent The Bee Movie from the library this summer. And he did recently develop a perseverative interest in the show Fetch with Ruff Ruffman, which has an episode about bees in which one of the children is afraid of bees and talks about having been stung. Perhaps that partially explains it. Whatever the source, he began to express worry about bees, not wanting to go outside and play because he thought he saw one. We tried to downplay the danger, telling him there was no need for worry and that bees don't WANT to sting people so as long as you just be still and leave them alone they will leave you alone. Little did we know we were setting the stage for the perfect storm of anxiety.

It was a warm Wednesday evening. We were at my dad's house for our weekly "family barbecue." This has been a favorite summertime activity for the past few years. One evening a week our extended family gathers together for a barbecue at which the host (hosting alternates between families) grills an entree and everyone brings a dish and we enjoy a meal, each other's company, and the outdoors. Boo had been playing happily in the sand pile near Grandpa's driveway. Boo's Dad and I were sitting with the group chatting and eating some chips. When the meal was ready, I went into the shop building where the food was set out and filled a plate. When I came back outside I glanced toward the sand pile and something was Boo was sitting in a squat position in the sand, in absolute stillness. Boo is never still. Ever. Not even in his sleep. Something was wrong. Ever so slowly he turned his head and on his face was an expression I can't even name. He was clearly crying, but his features held a mixture of desperation and terror. I set my plate on the nearest chair and went running.

I knelt behind Boo and asked him what was wrong. He said there was a bug on his leg. I looked down and saw a fly perched on his shin and I waved it away. I said that it was a fly and that it is gone now. He wailed "I thought it was a bee! I saw stripes!" His head was soaked with sweat. Tears streaked down his cheeks and his hair was matted to his face. I assured him that he was safe and that there was no bee. He said that he had thought it was a bee and that he was trying so hard to be still so that it wouldn't sting him. I don't know how long he had been sitting there like that. His body was stiff. I began wiping his face as he wept bitterly, telling me over and over how scared he had felt. I asked why he didn't call for me, since I was nearby. He said he was afraid that if he yelled it would scare the bee and make it sting him. My heart was breaking as it became clear just how terrified my poor boy had felt. I put my arms around him and helped him stand up and that's when he told me that he had wet his pants while he sat there. I choked back my own tears, knowing that Boo cannot handle seeing me cry. I don't even know if I can fathom the force of will required for my boy to force his body into absolute stillness such as this. He hadn't even chanced a dip of his head to glance at the presumed bee. I'd had no idea his fear of bees had reached this level of intensity.

I managed to walk him through the garage and strip his wet sandy clothes off and get him into the bathroom. I helped him wash his hands and feet, and wipe his face. He continued to weep desperately and cling to me. He was begging to go home. He knew that there had been no bee after all, but he told me that he couldn't stop feeling scared, couldn't stop thinking about it. I assured him it was okay to feel his feelings, and that I would keep him safe. He kept telling me how much he loves me. He agreed to wait there in the bathroom while I got him some clean clothes from the car. I helped him get dressed and he agreed to stay in the house and wait just long enough for me to eat my food before going home...but ONLY if I sent Daddy in to wait with him. I went back outside and explained to Daddy what had happened, and he went in to sit with Boo. Shortly before I finished eating, Boo emerged from the house and began playing with the older kids. I was very surprised that he was willing not only to stay, but to be outside! I couldn't believe what a fast recovery he had made from the strangle-hold of anxiety.

I took a lot away from that experience. I will be much more careful from now on about helping Boo manage his fears and anxieties. Instead of taking it lightly and giving offhand advice like "just be still" I will work on giving him concrete steps and action plans whenever possible. We have discussed bees and he knows that he can move an arm or a leg slowly to let the bee know that "I am a person, not a flower" and the bee will fly away. I have also told him that he can ALWAYS call out to me when he is scared or feels he is in danger. I'm not sure how much got through to him. I was sure to let his teacher know what had happened so she is aware of the intensity of his fear. I didn't want her to take it lightly if he had difficulty on the playground.  And I still don't know how his fear turned so intense right under my nose without me realizing it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Moore, Oklahoma

I spent most of my growing up years living in south Oklahoma City. We left when I was fourteen, when my dad got a promotion and the company moved us away. I remember having regular tornado drills when I was in school. The children would file out of classrooms and into the hallway, sitting cross-legged facing the walls, leaning forward and covering our heads with our hands. Somewhere along about fifth grade, I remember that it was decided that children should sit with their backs to the wall instead, as this position would provide greater protection for the spine. I remember thinking at the time that if this were a real tornado, I would not feel very secure. It seemed such a vulnerable position.

Oddly enough, considering how prevalent tornadoes are there, most homes and schools in that area are built without any basement. My mother had an in home daycare when I was a child. I have memories of piling into my mother's bedroom closet with my friends waiting for the all clear sirens to sound. We were cramped, sweaty, scared, and sitting on shoes. Tornado sirens were a matter of course in my childhood.  I praise God and thank Him for the fact that I never had to ride out an actual twister. 

Today, a massive tornado ripped its way though a suburb of Oklahoma City called Moore. I still have a number of friends living in the area, and as the news reached me, I prayed for my friends. I asked God to keep them safe, and all the other residents in the path of danger. Though I am truly grateful that no one I know lost life or property to the storm today, my heart is devastated by what I am seeing on the news tonight. When I heard that an elementary school took a direct hit, I felt like a bus was parked on my chest. One of my friends is a teacher in Moore, and she posted on facebook that she was taking shelter with her students. I thought of how it must feel to be entrusted to keep other people's children safe, and how terrifying it would be to know that a monster tornado is bearing down on your child's school and all you can do is trust that God and the school staff will take care of your baby.

To say my heart is broken is such an understatement it's laughable. The tears keep coming in waves. I can't shake it. I can't get that sense of distance that we use to shield ourselves from grief. I keep putting myself in the shoes of those parents who still haven't found their children, and whose children have lost their lives. I keep putting myself in the shoes of the children, riding out such a storm with nothing more than a hallway wall and their own hands to protect them. And even those children who were able to emerge safely from the rubble, probably had no home to go to, no bed to lay in tonight.

As you can imagine, my kids got a lot more hugs, kisses, cuddles, and "I love you's" tonight, even to the point that Boo begged, "let me GO, Mom!" And yeah, when Boo asked for a milkshake and I didn't have any ice cream on hand, I grabbed my keys and headed immediately to the grocery store. And yeah, when the baby went to sleep for the night, I held him up on my shoulder and kissed and nuzzled his little head long after I usually lay him down.

To say "my heart is in Moore" is much more than a nice sentiment for me. It's much more that just a graphic to post on facebook. My emotions are wrapped up so tightly in this event, I don't even know how to explain my feelings. I would ask that each of you take the time to devote some serious prayer to the sake of those who have survived this devastation...and the families of those who have not.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A little piece of typical

The plans were in place. The stars were aligned. My husband had the day off work. The babysitter was lined up. The company Christmas party was a GO! A Saturday night spent enjoying ourselves among adults, eating free food and winning prizes...I could hardly believe that it all came together.

Then the phone rang.

The babysitter was sick. But her younger sister graciously offered to take her place. Which was fine with me and my husband...but Boo was devastated! It was about 11am when I told him there was a change in plans. We were supposed to leave at 5pm. I was trying to balance his need for advance notice of a plan change with his tendency to obsess and fret over the change if given too much time to think about it. We were in the car running some errands. Tears streamed down his little face and my heart was breaking. I HATE that something so seemingly simple can be so difficult for him to cope with. He kept repeating that he didn't want A to come, he wanted N. He said that it wasn't fair, and that he doesn't like it when plans change. He says changing plans is like breaking a promise.

Over the next half hour or more, he would calm down, and then ramp up again in cycles. He asked if Daddy could stay home with him instead. I told him Daddy was going to the party. He asked if Grams could come. I told him it was too late for Grams to be out. He said "It's too late for Mammo too, right?" Yes dear, and the tears came again. Eventually he stopped worrying about it, and started watching the clock. He managed to get excited about A coming over. When she arrived, he took her to his room and they started playing with his hotwheels. By the time we left, he was too involved with the babysitter to even say goodbye.

I warned the sitter that bedtime could be difficult without me there, that he is very resistant to going to bed without his mom. He usually won't even go to bed for Mammo! I told her to try, but not to worry about it if he really fought against it. I was prepared to find a very tired little boy waiting for me at the end of the night. Daddy and I had a wonderful time at the party. I enjoyed being out with my sweetheart for the first time in a long while. We arrived back home at about 10:30 and found our sweet Boo sound asleep in his bed! I was astounded. I asked A if he had given her any trouble and she said that everything went great. She said he didn't want to go to bed at first, but she told him it would be very late before I got home. He finally agreed to lay down, telling her "I don't want you to lay in my bed with me because you're not my mom." She checked on him about 10 minutes later and he was sound asleep. And it was only about 45 minutes later than his normal bedtime.

Sunday morning at church, both of A's parents asked me about the evening, and I told them that they are not allowed to move away at least until Boo is grown. It feels pretty amazing after five and a half years to have an actual babysitter (two, even!) whom I can call on when we want to go out, and not feel like I have to depend solely on the generosity of family members. We've picked up one more little piece of "typical" on our road through Boo's life. Nothing else needs to show up under the tree to make this one of the best Christmases ever for me!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Say Hey!

Today is a big day, friends. Emotions and passions are running high on both sides of this year's vote. Sometimes when we feel so strongly about things that mean so much to us, it can cloud our vision of the overall big picture. I have seen so much political talk and posting, and so much complaining about political talk and posting...honestly, I'm just ready for it to be over with already! But I do have something to talk with you about that I feel is important.

I will not tell you how I am going to vote. (Though those of you who know me well can probably predict my vote with some degree of accuracy.) I don't want to know how you voted either. It doesn't matter to me. But here is what does matter to me: Please don't make assumptions about how someones vote reflects their personal opinions and values. It is unfair to make blanket conclusions about how I think and feel on certain issues based solely on which political candidate I support. For example, I have some dear friends who are devout believers in Christ and have a heart for His Church and His people, and who believe that the best reflection of how to love and care for others is through the democratic platform. I have other dear friends who are just as devout and have just as much heart for the same Christ, who believe the best reflection of how to love and care for others is through the platform of the republican party. It would be ridiculous for anyone to assume that a republican vote means that a person lacks love or compassion for homosexuals or victims of rape, for example. It would be equally unfair for one to assume that a democratic vote means that a person lacks faith or doesn't care about babies being aborted.

You can talk all you want about what your vote means to you, and what it reflects about you. But please have enough common sense and enough respect to realize that you do not know (unless someone specifically tells you) what another person's vote means to them, or what it reflects about their values and beliefs. Don't tell me what I think, tell me what YOU think. Don't assume that I must be deluded, misguided, or undereducated if I don't agree with your way of seeing things. Realize that people can desire the same end result yet have differing opinions about the best way to accomplish that result.

And please, please, PLEASE, for goodness sake, don't treat this election as if it is the greatest pivotal moment in all of history. Is it important? Yes. Does it matter? Yes. Should you vote? Yes. Will the win/loss of a particular candidate usher in the apocalypse? NO! Will the United States cease to exist if your candidate looses? NO! But do you know what? Even if it did...guess what? God still reins! Civilizations have risen and fallen throughout all of human history, and two things still remain: the human race, and it's Creator. We are going to be ok! God is in control, not Obama or Romney. Our immediate future is uncertain and I know that can be scary. But we should not allow our concerns to become our focus. Let's put our faith and trust in God, our ballots in our polling places, and our hands in one another's. Let's remember that we are all in this boat together no matter who takes the helm, and that the Lord rules over us all.

Most of all, please remember these words from one of my favorite songs by FFH:

However long our feet have walked on this world
We’ve all lived long enough to know
That sometimes life will go our way
And other times it won’t
But still I’ve got this joy inside of me
With each new dawn I do believe to

Say hey, it’s a good day
Even if things aren’t going my way
Jesus is Lord and I am saved
So, say hey, it’s a good day

Circumstance and situations change
You know life can turn on a dime
But there’s a constant hope and peace
That I have come to find
And it’s all because of who God is
And that He is alive and I am His, so

Say hey, it’s a good day
Even if things aren’t going my way
Jesus is Lord and I am saved
So, say hey, it’s a good day

We are all as happy as we make our minds up to be
I have just decided that nothing’s gonna take this joy from me

Say hey, it’s a good day
Even if things aren’t going my way
Jesus is Lord and I am saved
So, say hey, it’s a good day