My son will be graduating from college this coming week, and he’ll be getting married a few weeks after that. That’s why my posting has been light.
Lately I’ve been remembering when my son was a two-year-old, and we’d sit on the sofa in the living room, and I’d teach him his alphabet. We had two of the Lauri hard foam puzzles. One was lower case and one was upper case letters. The letters were yellow and the background was blue. I’d make up silly games about the letters eating blueberries and he’d laugh and laugh. He was a happy toddler who made people smile, and he’d been an easy baby.
Before he was born I had problems bleeding, and so the doctor put me on semi-bed rest for about half my pregnancy. My doctor was a wonderful pro-life Irishman with a lilt, and I went to see him every week all those months. When our son was born his dad had the flu, and spent the day in the hospital on the couch, checking on me intermittently. I was blessed with an excellent nurse who saw me through labor until my son was born. The doctor told me he felt like a ten-pound baby, and he weighed in at ten pounds, three ounces. While I was in the hospital our three-year-old daughter came down with the flu, but her dad brought her in with nose running and mismatched outfit, happy about her new brother whom neither she nor her dad could hold because they were sick—they could only look at her new brother through the glass. I came down with the flu, and the nurse wouldn’t let my hold my baby for a day. I cried, but they let me have him back the next day. Providentially, he slept through the second night home, and we all eventually got well.
His sister adored him from the beginning, but was disgruntled that I wouldn’t let her carry him around like one of her dolls. She enjoyed giving him a bottle of water, and they became mutually attached. They still make my husband and I smile when we hear them bantering back and forth. It’s a happy sound from their childhood that has continued through the years.
Our son always loved over the counter medicine, and his sister hated all of it. He once drank half a bottle of cold medicine, and I had to give him Ipecac syrup to make him throw it up. When he was three, he became mad at me because I wouldn’t give him the chewable Tylenol his sister had to take because she was sick. I put the lid on the bottle, and placed it back on the top shelf in the kitchen, and then went upstairs to hunt under the beds for stray socks. A few minutes later he came up to me and said, “Mommy, I ate all the Tylenol.” He had climbed onto the counter, stood on it to reach the top shelf and opened the “child-proof” top to get into the medicine.
This meant a call to the doctor, and his dad met us at the emergency room. Our sick daughter had to come as well, and she spent a few miserable hours in the waiting room. Our son had to drink activated charcoal to absorb the medicine, but he wouldn’t do it for me, so the nurse made me leave the room while she got him to drink it. Meanwhile the doctor told my husband that he thought our son had ingested a lethal amount of Tylenol (I didn’t know this until later). This was frightening because if he hadn’t told me about eating the pills, by the time I saw symptoms, his liver would have been damaged or worse. We always thought and knew the Lord prompted him to come to me and tell me so that his life would be preserved.
When he was about four or five, his sister taught him to read. The first big books she’d read were the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and so she wanted to be a schoolmarm. I had an old prairie-style dress bordered in eyelet that I gave to her. She would put it on and have her brother sit at his desk while she instructed him.
He was the voice of caution when our daughter would have one of her creative ideas about rearranging the bunk beds in her room or boiling crayons on the stove—when the wax started hitting the microwave and popping over the counter and floor, he grabbed a pan lid and covered the mess.
He’s always been thoughtful and generous from the time he was a little boy. When his sister was having a tough time being tormented by some other kids, he empathized with her to the extent of having his tummy tied up in knots, and we had to take him to Children’s Hospital in Boston. As you can guess, he was sensitive, and I used to sit with him and wait until he could tell me what was bothering him. Some of my hardest moments as a mom have been seeing him or his sister upset or hurt.
We went through baseball during elementary school years in our small New Hampshire town and had some idyllic times. The first couple of years he was blessed with a coach who had two sons of his own, and knew how to bring out the best in little boys. Their team won the town championship both years—the second year was especially a shock because that team was a motley array and at first looked as if they would come in last. The good man who was the coach made the difference.
We had a dog and a cat. We got the cat when he was only three, and both children were very attached to her. The cat spent time sprawled at the top of the stairs (our daughter broke a toe tripping over her in the dark), and I remember seeing our son race up the stairs, briefly lay his head on kitty’s back, give her a hug, and then resume his zooming.
He did have his moments. Scribbling on the hall wall, and once chasing his sister with a baseball bat. She ran to the bathroom and slammed the door just in time. He pro- ceeded to hit the door (it was solid so there were only a few dents). Then there was the day when he realized there were no phone jacks in his bedroom, and in outrage he unplugged all the phones in the house, boxed them up and hid them!
He and his friends took the screen off his bedroom window and threw his little green army men into the snow on top of the family room roof that abutted his room. Years later after we’d moved he told me there had been another time when he climbed out onto the roof—which would have meant a one or two-story fall if he’d gone over. I was glad I didn’t know about that when it happened!
We had a small trickle of a creek running through our property—just big enough for kids to wade in and dam up. In the spring I’d watch him and the next-door neighbor boys playing there. In their shorts and waterproof boots they looked straight out of Winnie-the-Pooh—Christopher Robins in the 100 Aker Wood.
One of our family jokes has been that board games are his love language. Night after night when his dad would come home from work, he wanted us to play Life with him. He usually beat us, and would chortle with glee when he did. He still plays games and seems to have a gene for winning. I held off on electronic and computer games as much as possible so he would have time for outside play or inside interaction. His major is computer science, so he has made up for any deprivation he might have felt!
When he was thirteen we left New Hampshire (he still misses snow), and moving was hard on him. I was worried about him for most of the year and felt bad because he was having such a hard time with the neighborhood kids. He made friends at our church, however, and as a teenager this group of friends went to a new level of playing army. They had camo and airsoft guns, and would go out and build blinds and hide and stalk each other in wooded acres owned by one of the dads. They’d be out all day and come home happy and filthy.
They took courses together at a homeschool co-op, and later at the local community college. Because we lived close to the college, the guys were in and out of our house. Those were the days when we’d have about 7 or 8 pairs of shoes parked by the front door (I always thought of Zits and the huge shoes his mom would find at her door). I’d cook pizza and it would be gone instantaneously. I remember frying a pound of bacon one time, I put it on a platter, the guys came in, swooped, and it was gone.
They are great guys—our daughter has always said that they’re the best advertisement for homeschooling—almost all of them worked part-time jobs as soon as they were old enough to do so. I still remember that birthday when my son was able to first use his paycheck to give me a gift certificate for a present.
His math courses quickly outdistanced my expertise, but he still asked me to read over his papers. He was fortunate to have an adjunct history instructor who had taught at West Point, and my son received A’s on his two papers—one was on the Battle of Saratoga, and I think the other was on Midway. I was so proud of that. For another class he decided to do a pro-life paper on Plan B (notice how he is related to me!) Later when we had to make another move, and he had transferred to a four-year college, there were phone calls about papers that he’d e-mail to me, I’d print them out, and then we’d discuss them.
Today his friends are young men; one has already done a stint in the Army, one is in the Air Force, another is in the Navy, and two, including my son, are in R.O.T.C. One will be my son’s best man, and two will be groomsmen.
We taught the children Bible stories, prayed with them, took them to AWANA, and went with them to church, but God used our daughter to make an impression on her brother when he was almost four and a half. One day in May my husband and I were sitting on our back screen porch talking when our son ran out excitedly, and said, “Mommy, Daddy, I just asked Jesus into my heart.” We asked him what had happened, and he said his sister had told him that he needed to ask Jesus into his heart or he would go to hell. That’s not quite the approach his dad or I would have taken, but he wasn’t dismayed. She said this to him out of concern—not as a sister scare tactic—and her motives were the best.
Well, we rejoiced with him, but because we knew that sometimes children make a confession that is only repeating what they’ve heard we watched and waited. Over the months it was clear that he had known what he was doing—he had truly believed in his heart and his confession was real. Over the years his dad and I have watched with pride and joy to see his integrity, and his hard work and perseverance. Now in the season of life I’m in, he comforts me, prays for me and tries to build up my faith and trust in God.
All the laughter, the laundry, the exhaustion, the joy. Watching and worrying through so many transitions. Praying and being grateful to see God answer prayer in his life. Building into and nurturing the life of a child is hard work, but the best of tasks. I had an eighth grade teacher who was fond of telling us, “What you are to be, you are now becoming.” The child became the boy who became the man he is today.
We rejoice to see him begin life with a young woman whom he loves who also loves God. May God bless them and build their house.
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,The fruit of the womb is a reward.Psalm 127:3
Children are a blessing.
Little boy and girl playing hopscotch together. Ilya Haykinson. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Little league baseball bunt. Wildernice. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Tuskegee NF Trail. Robert S. Donovan. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Wedding Ring, Jason Hutchens: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.