Sunday, August 28, 2011

G, The Genuine Article

My younger son, largely overlooked in the shadow of his brother, deserves some air time.

He is reserved, intense, deeply resourceful, and probably the most gifted self-advocate I have ever witnessed. I frequently worry about his older brother, who lacks the last, but I never worry so much about G, because G always figures out a way to get what he needs.

Although his IQ testing has always revealed a vastly splintered cognitive profile, his emotional and spiritual maturity often leave me humbled. He can almost always be counted on to say or do exactly the right thing at the right time.

For some one who has not even reached his 8th birthday, I think this is pretty remarkable. I know plenty of adults who don't even have a handle on these things.

So today, during church, G turns to me, his deep sea-green eyes locking with mine in intense concentration.

"You know, mom," he observed. "I see God in your head."

This observation momentarily floored me. "You do?"

He nodded. "God is very big. Bigger than you. You worship Him."

I nodded. "That's right. So do you. That's why we're here."

"You know, mom," he continued. "God lives in the sky."

I pointed to his chest. "He lives here, too." I replied.

He gave me a sly little smile. "But I still see him in your head, mom."

I have to chuckle at the last exchange. He was accusing me of leading the witness in his own way--of trying to tell him how to see.

But he was letting me know that he can see just fine, thanks.

You just can't teach that.

But I wish his brother would take some notes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Enlightenment (hurts)

Yesterday, I had an epiphany about the nature of goodness and the costs of doing the right thing.

In the course of a meeting, I found out that by doing right by me, some one brought himself a lot of grief and quite a few brickbats thrown his way.

And this revealed to me the larger reason why my sons have such a hard time, why I am required to dole out the stinkeye with almost alarming regularity--doing the right thing, in this world anyway, brings little reward, or at the very least, little instant gratification and incentive to do more.

If you're thinking "Well, DUH!", try to see this from my (granted, limited) perspective. I've always done the right thing as a matter of course--not that there's any merit to my goodness, it's almost like that's just the way I'm wired. I'm just realizing that a vast majority of people are not wired the way I am.

I'm not sure the way this person is wired; he may be dissuaded from doing what he did ever again because of what it cost him. Because, as I am finding out the hard way, that's the way a vast majority of people are wired. Path of least resistance. Don't go against the grain. Don't draw any attention to yourself. And for God's sake, don't do anything that will draw the wrath of others.

So that's why I continue to intercede on behalf of my sons. But I sit here realizing that this will be never ending. Unless, of course, my kids encounter people like I have who are willing to take a brickbat for them.

But, if there's nothing in it for them, why would anyone do that?

My thoughts turn back to Fr M, who came over for dinner with us the other night, a wounded healer, like myself, who understands what he needs to do, does it, but occasionally fights it, because that's what we who struggle daily with pride do. I'm understanding now that the warmth of that evening, as beautiful as that was, is a reminder of what I am here for. And there is nothing warm and fuzzy about doing the right thing. Doing the right thing is difficult and largely thankless.

But I must continue to lead by example. And when I see some one doing good, I have to make it a point to acknowledge it.

Possibly, it's the only way I can keep it going.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Light Within

I love it when I make some one's day.

The smallest things can be the greatest pleasures in life. I had one split second interaction today wherein I made eye contact with some one I think the world of, and his whole face lit up when he saw me.

That moment has had me smiling all day. And it's led me to think about the things that make me smile. Canoeing and fishing with the boys yesterday does that--my favorite things with my favorite people. Certain people make me smile no matter what. Running in the mornings--when I can--always puts me in a good mood.

And this am, while I was out running, I found some one's wallet abandoned by the curb, with all their information (some one had already cleared it out of cash and credit cards); I drove it over to the police station and did what I needed to do. I hope that made someone's day. One can hope.

On the downside, a chunk of our tulip poplar came down and our tv has inexplicably died.

Always something.

But hey, if that's the worst that can happen? It's still a good day.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


So we were at the mall the other day and found ourselves on an elevator with three teenagers. Ordinarily, Nic is so engrossed in 'pushing his buttons' that he fails to notice anyone else.

I curtly tell Nic to stop pushing the button, well aware of the glances and snickers the three are sharing. So Nic stops. And does something he has never done before.

In turn, he looked over his shoulder and fixed each boy with a look that I recognize from the inside--the same look I trot out every Sunday when some one makes the mistake of looking at us like we are a disruption and/or an abomination.

Watching this look emanating from my son's eyes elicited both a thrill and horror; a thrill at the fact that he's got both mom and dad's confidence and daring.....and horror for pretty much the same reasons.

All of this happened in the 30 odd seconds it took for the elevator to get from one floor to the next. And as soon as the door opened, I grabbed G by he shoulder with one hand and Nic at the elbow with the other. An unauthorized (but deserved?) dogpile had no place in my schedule. Nic, undeterred, continued to glare at the boys through the glass walls of the elevator as they continued upward. I grabbed Nic's chin and forced it my way.

"Really?" I wanted to know. "You really want them to come back and kick your ass?"

"Stupid teenagers," Nic muttered, his eyes cutting sideways.

So this tells me two things; he is developing an awareness of what he looks like to everyone else and he is starting to care what other people think, to such a degree that he is actually communicating what HE thinks right back.

Many implications in this development. It's all good, but as we know, Nic likes his lessons learned the hard way. This takes us to a whole new level.

Middle school: ready or not, here he comes....

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I love August

I'm having one of those 'if you blink, you'll miss it' moments in life, where everything has landed exactly in place. It's part of the reason I've been quiet here--if I'm not working, I'm playing with the boys, and friends and family. Everything is in perfect balance.

I know how rare that is, which makes it all the more enjoyable.

Even with all the balls we have in the air, the boys have had a great time with friends and family at the beach, at baseball games (Nic threw out the first pitch at a Lakewood Blueclaws game last week), the pool, at tennis, and bowling. Yesterday, we hiked through the Wissahickon Valley and met up with Coach S. And this weekend, I am going to figure out a way to get on the river with the boys.

What makes this time so special is that we are off the town grid. All the usual grind begins when school starts up again in three weeks. And I can't say I'm looking forward to engaging the same old stupid battles I've been fighting the last six or so years.

So, for now, I enjoy life. I recharge. So do the boys. We spend time with people who want to spend time with us. We enjoy each other and these days. And we'll be ready for whatever comes.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Worth a thousand words.....

If there's any one way to sum up our summer, the above image does a nice job.

As always, I am grateful for the love and mercy shown us in big and small ways throughout our travels. These kindnesses keep us going. Despite all the blips and bumps in the road, we keep moving, we keep learning, and we keep enjoying life.

For everyone who has ever done us a good turn, given us a second, third, and even fourth chance, thank you.