Friday, August 31, 2018

Little Glimpses

Cara is back in Italy now. She and Colin live outside Venice. Mack that cat is having a fine time getting into arguments with hot tempered Italian cats. He's visited the vet twice. He's not happy with caravan life and gets destructive inside, so they've made the tough choice to make him an indoor/outdoor cat. He's an Afghan street cat, with street cat wiles. He tends not to roam far. Much to Cara's horror, she watched him march up to a tent, reach out, hook a claw into the zipper, and unzip a tent enough to wiggle inside.

Cara has a temper of her own, and I shall not relate what she called him, but she was not pleased, and she braced herself to hear a barrage of complaints. Luckily, Italians on vacation seem to be a very relaxed group. They are charmed by Mack. 

I also got to finally see Iris. She's beautiful and alert, and there is something very powerful in the re-remembering of the fit of a small baby into your shoulder. It is a powerful thing to watch your son and your daughter move confidently into parenthood. 

William is a second grader. 

Summer is drifting into fall here. I feel like summer was an eye blink, but the seasons change with indifference to our thoughts on the matter. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Prodigal daughter

Cara's home from Italy for a while.

So happy.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

William's Bike

The bike that William won at the fair was a full sized men's bike. It still had the tags on it, the instructions dangled from the handle bars, and the wheels still had the paper inside the spokes. We figured that we could swap it for a new kid's bike.

But the store would not take it back without a receipt.

We contacted the group that gave it away. They would have come out about $40 ahead on the deal. But they never contacted us back.

I got the idea to put a post on facebook explaining the situation. If a man was looking to buy a new bike for himself, he could get one and save about $40 by simply buying a little boy a bike and working an even steven swap with us. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

Within minutes, someone was wanting to buy that bike for William. We met with them at the store, and William picked out his bike and he was a very excited little boy. The man said, "You need a light for that bike. Safety first. And so William got a light too.

The only fly in the ointment was that the couple refused the bike. We debated it, but they were adamant. "Pay it forward," they said.

It's been troubling me. I felt pretty guilty about how it all shook out.

Fast forward two weeks later.

Our church had our worship outside in the park. We had a pot luck, followed by a few hours of live music. Sitting at the hospitality table I noticed a young man wander in and sit quietly listening to the music. Later on, when I went inside to use the bathroom, the young man was getting a water.

I pointed towards the next room. "We've got a bunch of food in there, go fix yourself a plate."

He stood stock still and said, "Is it free?"

"Sure is," I said. "Go fix a plate." And he did. I saw him going back for seconds.

He came over and said, "Is there coffee anywhere?" I said, "I can make you a pot." So I did.

Outside again, I watched him return to the church several times for coffee.

He just kind of stuck in my mind. I wondered what his story was. Then suddenly, it popped in my mind that he needed a bike. It would not go away. I tried to get someone else to talk to him about it, but in the end, I got up and did it myself.

I said, "Hey, can I ask how you get around?"

He said, "I walk."

I said, "Would you like a bike?"

He looked at me like it was a trick question. He finally said that he would.

I said, "Come on."

We went to my car and I drove him home. He was very quiet, but he did ask, "What size is this bike?" Still a bit mistrustful of what was happening I think. I told him it was a 26 incher, and he was quiet again. I live about five minutes from church, and when we pulled into the driveway, I walked into the garage to pull it out. He said, "This is brand new!" I told him the story behind it.

I went into the house to get a pair of scissors to cut the tags off. When I came out he was struggling to fit his pop bottle full of coffee into the frame. I said, "Wait a minute." I went inside to get a bottle that had a loop to go over the handle bar.

He was gobsmacked. He thanked me and then he was gone.

Later, I messaged the people who'd given William his new bike. I told them what happened next. They both cried.

At that point, so did I.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Angry boy

In school, William had a friend. He wasn't a good friend. In fact the kid was in trouble, a lot. But I work with his step dad. I know that his parents struggle a great deal with him. I know that T. has had some pretty big stuff to deal with in his seven years on this earth.

Tim and I have great faith in the idea that if you set boundaries, if you expect the same things every time,  we think that kids respond to boundaries and clear expectations. I thought perhaps we could take this young man along with us camping a few times this summer. Unfortunately, as it worked out, this summer has been a bit of a challenge for me and I have been under the weather. We were only able to camp a handful of times.

However, in this last week of summer vacation, my friend and his wife have been struggling. They can't find day care for the boy. They have been taking turns missing work. They can't afford it but they have no alternative. My friend asked me what we were doing with William. I explained that Tim just takes him along to whatever he's working on.

Just so happens that Tim is working on a house that is on the route they take to get to work. After some amount of talk, Tim and I thought it would be nice to have his friend for the last few days of the summer, and that the boys could play together in the creek while Tim worked on the house. It would be just for a couple hours. His mother would drop him off after lunch, and his father would pick him up after we get out at 2:30.

The first day was not good. Seems that T. has an affinity for smashing things. Even more shocking was that William simply followed along with the bad behavior. Tim spoke very firmly to both of them.

The second day was even worse. Tim overheard the boys. T. was telling William that he couldn't play with his handheld game unless he *whisper, whisper* and while Tim didn't hear all of it, he plainly heard the 'f' word.

Tim was very interested to see what would happen next. William has a big tendency to blame his misbehavior on those around him.We tell him over and over again that it doesn't matter what everyone else is doing. He has a choice. He can either choose to go along with those who are doing the wrong thing or not, but it is a conscious choice he is making. He has to choose whether he is going to do the right thing or the wrong thing.

William did not say the 'f' word, and he was very quiet. T. was picked up and Tim had a private talk with his stepfather.

When William and his grandpa arrived home, Grandpa said, "I was very proud of you today, William. You made a good choice." He told me about the talk between William and T.

William filled in the rest of the story that Tim hadn't heard. William wanted to play with the game but Terry would not let him unless William told his grandpa to "Shut up, you big -------." Tim and I were shocked speechless. That is a tremendous amount of anger from a 7 year old.

William continued on. "I knew if I said that, Grandpa would ground me for the rest of my LIFE." He looked upset. "I love my grandpa. I don't want to be mean to him."

The world has changed a lot since I was a kid. Since my kids were kids. It is scary. But in the middle of that, we saw that all of our preaching made a difference for the boy we love best in all the world.

That night at the supper table, he said, "I have to be everybody's friend." We explained that no, he did not. He had to be kind. He was never to mean to others. However, when someone behaves badly, we want him to know that he's certainly entitled to choose to play with others. Just as we expect and hope that he will never stand by and watch someone bully another child, we hope that he would never just stand there and allow someone to bully HIM.

He digested this thoughtfully, right along with his meal.

The world is not a simple one, but it always amazes me that the answers generally are.

There are two more days before school starts again. I don't know what his parents are going to do, but T's problems are more than Tim can deal with. I feel sorry for him, and hope that somehow he gets sorted out.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Iris Lynn

Two years ago, a little angel child was born and died, a shooting star in this world. Keegan's passing broke many hearts.

Now, 3 days before what would have been his second birthday, there is Iris Lynn, named for rainbows and her maternal grandmother. Three weeks premature, she weighed in at 7 lbs 13 oz, and she made sure that the world knew, right away, that there was nothing at all wrong with her lungs.

She is beautiful, and she is perfect.

We are blessed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Bike

Last week, Grandpa took the training wheels off William's bike. He'd got the bike for his 5th birthday, and he's always been a bit afraid of it. So it's practically new, very seldom ridden. Tim got tired of waiting for William to gain confidence, so he just took the training wheels off and matter of factly said, "Well, you're just going to have to figure it out, William."

And William did. He's been watching other kids riding around on their bikes, and he really wanted to join them. 

So he got on his bike and took off. Just like that, he got on his bike and he was riding all over the place just as if he'd been riding a two wheeler for all his days. 

He was beyond amazed, and came rushing into the house to tell me (at the top of his lungs) that he could now ride a two wheeler. I obligingly went to the door to watch him, and noted that unfortunately, he'd mastered the bike only after he'd outgrown the little 16 incher. 

Saturday night was the last day of the county fair, and Stock Car football. It has become a family tradition. I've been under the weather, so this year I couldn't go, but Tim and William went just as they always do. 

Now just before the "Super Bowl" round of stock car football, they have a drawing. Each kid in the crowd gets a ticket as they enter the gate and then at the end of the competitions, right before the grand finale, the Fair Queen pulls four numbers out one at a time, and the lucky ticket holders win a bike.

William was excited. He told Tim, "I'm going to pray to God to get one of them bikes." 

Tim smiled indulgently and gently explained that there were hundreds of kids there. 

Undeterred, William spent a great deal of the competition reciting the numbers out loud to himself, memorizing them. He recited the number over and over again. By the time the drawing came around, not only did he have his number memorized, so did every person in the vicinity. 

The Fair Queen read off the first number. It was not a match. William slumped a little. 

The second number was called and William studied his ticket anxiously, slumping a little more.

The third number was called and William sat up straight and stock still with big eyes. Two ladies sitting in front of him said, "That's YOUR number!" 

And it was. 

Tim took the ticket from William's excited fingers to make sure he didn't drop it down the bleacher seats and William shot off ahead to claim his bike, scared to death they'd think he wasn't there, and give his bike to someone else. 

William and Grandpa pushed the bike to the gate, and William commented, "I gotta calm down. I'm shaking." 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Death by Patience.

One boy came home tired and dirty from the fair.
At supper time, he ate like a little piglet, and then began to pester to go to the playground. "Listen," we explained in reasonable tones. "We've been working all day. We have things to get done inside the house before we go back to work tomorrow. You had a fun day already and you'll spend most of tomorrow at the playground."
He glared and sulked. "I'm bored!" he whined. "I don't have anything to do." And he flounced to the living room to complain and mope.
I channeled my inner grandma. "Come on," I said. "You can be a chef." Major meltdown ensued. He wanted to do something FUN, not work. "Nope, you're bored, can't find anything to do. I've got something for you to do."
He wailed the blues while I chopped the carrots, celery, mushrooms, chicken, onions, asparagus, garlic, etc. and dumped them in a fry pan with the left over chicken. He howled as he sauteed them. He was still howling when we added the thick rich chicken broth from the multipot and added the rice.
I ignored him and kept on cleaning the kitchen. "Just think," I said, "you're cooking tomorrow's supper!"
To which Mr. Picky said, "WE GOTTA EAT THIS FOR SUPPER?!!! Get ready for a big fit at suppertime." And his lip stuck out stubbornly.
We had a discussion about the fact that he was being terribly rude, while we discussed how pretty our rice dish looked with the colored vegetables, "Hey, I said, "get a bit of rice and tell me whether you think it's done or not. Blow on it," I reminded him. He nibbled and looked at me in amazement. "This is very good."
By the time we were done with the rice, we decided what to make for dessert and while the brownies baked, we had a stern talking to about how he's not the boss, and that no means no, and every time he starts complaining about being bored, I'll find something for him to do.
Licking the spatula, he said, "But I love helping you cook, grandma. It's fun."
The stinker.