Saturday, January 26, 2008

The amazing power of a dad

I am continually awed by the power of dads. They are amazing in the awe and respect that they get from their families if they have established themselves well. The one who resides here has, and so it was with awe and delight that I watched him move through the kids rooms today.

This morning I asked my dear husband to do a room inspection. The younger boys room had had a through dejunking a month ago as we reorganized the space. Our daughter had recently received a bed with storage beneath and had reorganized but had continually assured me that the piles I kept seeing all over were necessity and could not be eliminated. It was starting to look like landmind field of books and pillows. Our other son tends toward packrat tendencies. The paper stash is amazing. He isn't fazed by the abundance of outdated receipts, notes and flyers that have accumulated. I have offered to help him learn the process of sorting it all out, but he has repeatedly assured me that he was fine. My subtle hints and requests had seemed to fall on deaf ears in the area of order to be applied to some of the rooms. I knew that for Dad it might get a different response.

He announced the inspection at breakfast and the kids retreated to their rooms soon thereafter. Our son had prepped his room, but knew more would be needed so reasoned that an inspection was timely to save him later hassles. He requested us to begin to inspect. The status of the floor was improved but still had a few stray hideaway packing materials and boxes. The pesky papers remained atop the dresser, waiting for permanent storage in the black "T" file. Dad then was able to state clearly and without the emotional conversation I often find myself bogged down in, the struggle and difficulty of not dejunking on a routine basis. He was able to cut through the excuses, misunderstanding and quickly establish a plan, a deadline and a clear consequence if appropriate action was not taken. Amazing.

Next on to the girl's room- the one with several piles and organized chaos as a rule. The dad factor arrived. I was in awe. Our daughters floor was visible in its entirety- somehow she did it- she found the secret places or the forgotten hide outs for all the books, clothes and miscellaneous that had found gravity spots about her room. He was able to venture into the closet and cupboard, ask questions and get clear answers. She received his joking and set to make things right - without complaint or fuss. Amazing.

By this point I was in awe, but Superdad's morning inspection was not complete, he went on to demonstrate clothes folding and inspired the boys to complete the needed tasks to bring order to their room. It was done with humor and levity and though not "fun" there was not the emotional drag out and whining that sometimes occurs on my watch.

Oh, I wish I was a dad some days. He makes it look easy. I know its not, that it is part of his job description and that he often feels the big heavy authority figure coming down. He just seems to do it with ease and grace and the kids respond with honor and respect.

Amazing the power of a dad- to inspire and motivate and direct offspring so quickly.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Adjusting to the unexpected

As we have moved to various places we have learned to adjust many times to many situations. After leaving our first job- a military career of 20 years a week and a day we returned "home". We prayed for a rental that had 3 bedrooms, a basement and a garage. God smiled and giggled from heaven and gave us the desires of our heart,with a twist. The 3 bedrooms was an upstairs flat in the middle of a city. Not expected but we adjusted.

There followed a season of close living, which helped us as a family to draw together. When 6 folks live in close quarters you adjust or go crazy, we decided for the crazy family time choice #3. We escaped the city by camping on many weekends and enjoyed the convienence of living around the corner from a bagel and donut shop. I relived some of my childhood days spent in the city with my children. We loved on neighbors and shared vegetables from our small garden. We shared live with folks of many cultural backgrounds and made memories that left us richer.

Since that time we have lived in the country, in a subdivision and now in a country subdivision. We have again invested in our neighbors and settled into the home that we are blessed to dwell in for this season. We continue to adjust to not having a bagel shop nearby, or a library within walking distance. Each home we make has a different feel to it, quirks- like ours has a slope in the kitchen, kind of like the one in my parents house in the village did. Each neighborhood has its own story.

Here we watch deer cross the road, wander in the yard and skitter back to where they came if they don't trust what they hear. Yesterday two deer stood listening in the road as a neighbor meandered out to his car, and it didn't faze them, other days they scoot back to safety without my understanding. They are accustom to some sounds and occurences. On our street we have a white truck that fully obeys the 25mph speed limit, taking him 2 min to get to the end of the road-,8 miles away. He is a race car driver on weekends but on this road he fully obeys the law. Most of us are not that patient, some have yet to register that there are children on this lane as they are practicing their racing skills on the straightaway!

Since we have moved here we have begun to settle in. The house unpacked, slowly life integrating to all the "news" - school, job, church, neighbors, friends. yet I find that I am still in the midst of adjusting to one part of my life. That is life with a special child.

It was a slow discovery. Born "floppy" we adjusted to bearing his weight and cheered when he finally sat on his own at 8 mos, crawled at 13 mos and took his first step a few months later. He fell alot and we laughed and hugged alot. That was just life in our family of originals. Fast forward many years and the mothers instinct that something is not right started to nag again.

First we had weird nighttime activity following a seizure. Finally a night terrors diagnosis settled our heart and we moved along. A move and more "hmms??", a seizure and trip to the hospital were the beginning of the wake up call. A speech therapy screening while in the hospital for seizure was rationalized as a way to justify our wait for a doctor. Then she began to tell me that our 9 year old was showing delays, speaking like a 6 1/2 year old. ??? he was the fourth child, a talkative one???

I went home and started to notice some dots, here and there little things. The reading delay that was not changing, the ah-ha of reading that my other boys that never came at 10. How many times would I have to repeat phonics lessons, over and over? At soccer alternating feet always had a delay. Light sensitivity that went over the top at times, not able to follow more than 2 directions at once. And greatest of all is the pure innocence of it all. He never seems to notice or express frustration at not being able, just accepts life as it comes. And so our journey with a special child has come. The rose colored glasses have been taken off, first slowly and gently but some days I feel like they are ripped off as the stark contrast between what the outward expectation could be and the reality.

Last week in the back yard the stark contrast came as the neighbors 3 year old quickly flipped over herself on monkey bars as my son struggled to swing for more than a few minutes because of fatigue that comes with exercise because of his low-tone/ low endurance body. I have allowed that weariness to guide us rather than push him to strengthen, which we are now doing. It was a good perspective for me as I work to strengthen him but also painful that he is not able to do what should be so easy.

This week at a group event again realizing that he is not able to keep up with peers- kids of same age and body size-yet in an academic setting they process quicker than he is able. Yet in his heart he is generous and loving and kind. He seems to not know a stranger and will sit down and visit with most anyone, much to his teenage brothers dismay!

So I continue to adjust to knowing the heart of a child and the beauty that is within which is often only seen when you spend time with him, getting to know him. I continue to adjust to his time table,which is his and God's alone. He will get to the events of life, but it will be at a slower pace.

It is kind of a turtle and hare kind of thing, as I tend to be high energy and busy, he is slower paced and low energy. So I and the family are learning to slow down to catch up to him. Some days seizures will stop life as he rests until he can rejoin life, other days if just means living patiently and being willing to simplify so that we can move through the day well.

The adjustment goes on for this visual gal. It is a good reminder to me that God looks not on the outward appearance but the heart. How hard it is often to pull away from the world's (and mine) way of looking at the outward and ignoring the heart. Of remembering the reality that a person is not what they achieve in the academic world but who they are in their heart. That God's opinion is of far greater value than mans.

When the rose colored glasses were first taken off I found that my heart grieved and yet my son had never changed from who he was. It was not he who changed rather he was just labeled and catagorized and numbered. He remained himself. When my heart was able to come back to that I was able to lay the numbers, categories and labels on the altar and give it all to God. My vision was readjusted and heart centered. Unfortunately it isn't quite as simple as a laying down once, as I am finding out. I had heard something about a grief lived a thousand times and I am beginning to understand. When I am again reminded of what he "isn't" rather than what he is the grief of what might have been rises up again, again to be laid down and given over to the Lord.

I continue to adjust to the unexpectedness of this life in Toney. A life that is full and rich and in so many ways wonderful and unexpected. And yet in its unexpectedness also comes sadness and that reality that life is life and it will have ups and downs, joys and sorrows.