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Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Humanity …http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/humanity/

Medical technology gives us more choices in creating and controlling our destiny and that of our offspring.

It is estimated that 92% of fetuses who test positive for signs of Down syndrome today are aborted.

When David was in utero, all the tests came out “false negative.” We had no reason to believe anything was abnormal. His birth was normal – he came skidding out in 45 minutes flat, weighing in at 10 lbs 6 oz.

But he wouldn’t nurse, and his blood coagulated quickly – he resisted life initially, so measures were taken to keep him alive. He got blood transfusions (GIVE BLOOD!) and was the biggest, giant baby in the NICU.

A couple weeks after his birth, he tested positive for Trisomy 21. Fragile, he contracted pneumonia and his lungs collapsed 75%. He was airlifted on a Mercy Flight and was not expected to live.

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I pumped milk for him to be fed through a tube down his nose and into his stomach for months, while we lived in a Ronald McDonald House.

In his coma, we sang to him and talked to him, trying to give him the best of his only days on this earth.

Some argue that this is a waste of human and social resources. Had the fetus (David) been tested with today’s technology, it (he) could have been caught and prevented, and the six-figure price tag for his hospital care (at the time) could have been saved.

This is not a new concept; history repeats itself over the generations, but usually only the newer generations have forgotten the atrocities of the older generations. And…one thing leads to another….

Technologically advanced eugenics is indeed alive and well in the world today, whether we prefer to notice or not.

The prognosis was, if he didn’t come home in a casket and came home in a car seat instead, he’d be in a vegetative state at best, and could possibly live to age four or five.

Once I relinquished him to God, whether it be on earth or in heaven, somehow his flat line began to take off and he lived…(the little dickens extubated himself when he came out of his coma…he had a will to live).

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“Mighty David” defied all odds and, just like you and I, went on to do great things.

Like walk and talk and tickle and play in the band and paddle board and know Santa and be featured in the National Down Syndrome Society and Little League….nosiree, no vegetative state for HIM!

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imageMeeting Santa Claus while marching with the high school band in the Christmas Parade last year (He’d really hoped to meet Philip Phillips):

(Can you say JOY?)

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Quality of Life: Priceless

(beating Mom at push-ups)

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Don’t judge: there were abortions and one live birth prior to David, and two live births and four miscarriages after David…it always works out just the way God intends, even if we think we’re in charge!

No judgment, only LOVE and FULFILLMENT!

We do what we believe we must do when we must do it. God does what is meant to be, regardless.

Thanks, God, for Your perfect will and guidance….for rainbows out of clouds, for strength in weakness, for thumbs up in the face of Downs, for David and children all around the world who beat the odds and magnify Your glory, and for always being in control no matter what.

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Thank You for being an Awesome God!

 

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This Photo Challenge began with a commotion Friday night in our back yard, with my eldest child mysteriously sawing and hammering and screw-gunning away.

Then yesterday the sun dawned on his creation. And all this mother on Mother’s Day Eve could whisper was, “Oh, snap…what IS THIS instrument of death?”

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He’d made his own bike ramp and tested it repeatedly throughout the weekend.

I’ve no idea how many test-runs he made before I got home, BEFORE I reminded him to wear his helmet.

Be still, my heart…

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The littlest brother tried to learn to jump off the ramp like the biggest brother’s double-backwards twist:

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Kids will be kids!

And moms will be moms. After I studied how he did it and had captured his motion enough times on camera, it kinda looked fun…so I thought, “Why not?”

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But I couldn’t master his speed, so I decided to stick with the motion that gives me the most positive e-motion:

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Hey, God…thanks for keeping us on the move, whether we like it or not, ready or not, willing or not.

You created the universe to be in perpetual motion – us included.

May we find comfort in change, the inevitable – for You have by design made all things to go forward towards Your plans, in Your time.

Let us change and be changed…and embrace the journey as we go!

P.S. – and God, please help us remember to wear our helmets… (Ephesians 6:17)

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Nobody prepared me for raising an adolescent. There simply was no handbook.

That is, unless, you count my mother, who shook her finger at me early one morning when I rolled in two hours well after curfew and she admonished, “Just wait until you have children of your own!”

And that same Nobody failed to prepare me for the digital age of eBay, when my teenaged fifteen year old who drove us all to the beach yesterday without incident, decided to do his Christmas shopping online after choosing the surfboard of his dreams.

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His mother loves a bargain but she didn’t fall for this one, other than the photo op…No, the piece de resistance was upstairs among a row of gently used surfboards, suitable for beginners.

Shopping for himself, that is. I had to gently remind him tonight about his budget and what he had (or had not) set aside to buy gifts for his siblings, father and…his mother. Um, hadn’t thought that far ahead. We had a lovely lesson this evening in the blessing of giving, of budgeting, of thinking beyond one’s own means. Of trusting God for the details and of thinking of others before self.

So as I’m preparing supper tonight, I overhear a conversation ensuing on the house phone, regarding fishing apparatus:

“Okay, so I  buy the reel off eBay (inferred: because I think I can convince my mom before you can convince yours). ”

Neighbor kid then says, “Then I’ll trade you the one I have that’s actually worth more. You get your mom to bid on the one on eBay tonight and you can have mine, and you can actually sell it for more.”

“Okay. Lemme ask.” “No, don’t ask…just see if she’ll do it…” “Okay…, but she might not do it until the morning.” “It’ll be gone by then…”

And so it went.

So he approached me in the kitchen in between that last load of laundry getting folded and supper to the table, and he did a very fine job buttering me up.

I smiled and told him no, not until I had a chance to ask Daddy (who was at work) and to contemplate the budget in light of all the flurry of Christmas purchases. This did not set well for anyone, apparently – my son dug in a little further and threatened that if I didn’t “act now,” all would be lost.

So I lectured him about trusting the Lord for all good things and not acting on impulse.

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Thank goodness nobody acted on impulse going in the water today – these Portuguese Man-o-Wars were all over the place, breeding season. Their royal purple hues match the royal purple colors at church celebrating the birth of our Christ Jesus, n’est-ce pas? Very timely….and seasonal!

I also reminded him that this same beloved neighbor kid still owed us a Tonka fire truck since 11 years ago he carelessly threw our son’s beloved truck  on to our play dirt pile and broke it. Son and I shared a hearty laugh as we recalled that dark day when both boys were four years old in our yard,  a couple years before Katrina when we all knew no hardships to speak of.

I believe I wrote a poem that day about them – I’ll have to dig that up. It was the one that didn’t get published in a mainstream children’s lit magazine – they chose the one that was glossy, not real.

But in the end my fire truck argument held no water, because que sera sera, and his “must order now” argument held no water, either, because the buck stops here.

I trust that the boys will work out their fishing reel dilemma with or without eBay, with or without the blessing of the mothers, and with or without the decade-old fire truck mishap.

I trust that the Lord will see to all our needs this Christmas and beyond, if we trust in Him and act on faith, not impulse.

May your Christmas be filled with faith, circumspection and hope for all things right and good.

Merry, merry Christmas, my dear readers!

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Marching with the band in the Christmas parade has been a lifelong dream of our child with Down syndrome. That is all he ever wanted to do.

Music has been his passion since he was in the womb (he would kick harder when his favorite songs were on). It was a music therapist who helped ease him out of a coma in the PICU after he flat-lined.

And now, in middle school, it is the promise of being able to go to band practice that keeps him focused on his studies in the morning.

And keeps him from shenanigans like running into the girls’ locker room when they’re changing.

Besides girls, he has taken a particular liking to all things percussion. When we first asked if he could march, the answer wasn’t no, but it wasn’t yes, either.

Would he do what he was supposed to do? Would he be able to make the three-mile trek along the parade route, orthopedic inserts and all? How many chaperones might he need? What if he got distracted and became bewildered, tried to run or plopped down on the pavement and refused to budge (as he is sometimes prone to do)?

Once we secured answers to all these questions, the answer was finally ‘yes.’ He was ecstatic and talked nothing but parade for the last month. He diligently practiced various instruments at home each night and faithfully counted out the rhythm of various Christmas songs.

We often overheard him in his room, pretending to be in band class, talking (as best his speech impediment allowed) to his imaginary band mates: “Ready? Okay…(tap tap tap tap) one, two, three, four…stop – try that again, this time, faster…”

But last week the band director’s pregnancy took a turn rendering her unable to lead the band in the parade – and the middle school band was removed from the parade lineup. We didn’t have the heart to tell our son – not yet.

On a whim, we emailed the high school music director who oversees our eldest son in the high school marching band. Explaining the situation, we asked if we might include him – we were already signed up to chaperone the high school band on the parade, anyway. The answer was YES!

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The percussionists readily took him under their wing and put him to work – here, warming up on the snare. She was teaching him both technique and rhythm while we waited for the parade to begin.

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Drumming up some fun on the quads. Somebody forgot the apparatus that holds the quads while marching, so the band director enlisted Daddy to make a run back to the high school right-quick to find it in the band room, then battle the traffic and barricades back in time to save the parade. Close call, but mission accomplished!

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Bass drums aren’t easy to pick up!

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Lined up and ready to roll…big brother was playing the baritone horn in front of the tubas, somewhere in the sea of Santa hats.

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…and baby brother was supposed to be throwing candy to the crowd as we passed, but I counted no fewer than 12 wrappers in the bottom of the Radio Flyer at the end of the night.

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Our ears are still ringing from being by the drum line. When we had to slow or pause on the route, I noticed it was impossible NOT to move your body to the beat – so we did some dancing in the street!

Fortunately, there is no picture of me wearing my reindeer headdress, although I was spotted and called out to by several parade-goers, some of whom were administrators where I work….not sure how that affects my chance at a promotion.

He got a tummy ache about halfway through and had to retire to the wagon, but he kept playing until the bitter end.

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He got a BIG surprise when Santa himself jumped off of the fire truck and came right over to give him a big hug – the jolly old guy wouldn’t stand still, but the joy he brought was immeasurable.

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And he was given a new pair of drumsticks!

Isn’t this what Christmas is all about?

Thanks, God, for the joy You brought to the world through Your Son, Jesus Christ. As we celebrate this time of His birth, we thank You for glimpses of that joy in the faces and lives of Your precious children. May we, as adults, ensure that our children know the gift of joy You have provided through Him. May all our hopes and dreams come true through Your perfect will.

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Dearest Readers, I introduce to you Mr. DeVoss…who happens to share a slice of my reality right now, with a new teenaged driver in a subtropical climate. Except he’s WAY funnier than I am. Enjoy!
~~ssm

Christopher De Voss

The teenage boy is learning to drive.

I’m not helping.

At all.

I’m a bundle of nerves every time I give him the keys. I would prefer that the car be like the Flintstone mobile so I could slam my feet through the non-existent floorboard every time I feel like he is getting to close to another car.

Sample conversation:

Me: OK, make sure you look left, right, behind you, straight ahead…watch for cars just suddenly pulling out…watch for helicopters…

Teenager: OK.

Me: Watch for semi-trucks. Semi-trucks will squash us like a bug.

Teenager: Got it, Dad, semi-trucks are bad.

Me: And taxi cabs. Taxi cabs are dicks.

Teenager: Right, taxi cabs are dicks.

Me: Hey! Watch your language! OK, now don’t get too close to the car in front of us and don’t stay too far behind it either, watch that car on the side of us…are you drifting…

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It is not easy getting our fifteen-year-old up to get himself up on time for school, even though we adhere to bedtimes and other routines.

Sometimes, all the rants about getting up on time, not spending five years in the shower and making sure the school-issued Mac is charged before heading off – are in vain.

So, he missed the bus –  and I am inclined to encourage him to miss the bus as often as possible, since the most incredible conversations emerge in those precious moments of shared time, time that is quickly slipping away…time that will all too soon be occupied by a part-time job, a girlfriend, AP classes, college entrance exams and college itself.

And then, life.

THAT is when I commune with the soul of my child.

And an occasional photo op emerges…

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God, bless these moments in memory that lend themselves to bright spots in life – those moments which forever change without its participants even knowing, those visions of beauty which, fleeting in real-time, are captured in perpetua in the heart, ever becoming a new part of the soul.

The soul, evolving.

He has not changed, only we do. May we be open to His promptings.

(My inclination at this hour is to go to sleep, but I am afraid I will miss out on moments…the moment my baby crawled into our bed just now with a high fever as my husband broke into song on his guitar, serenading both of us into a graceful lull of wellness and recovery, songs I don’t know and songs I do, like Fleetwood Mac “Never Going Back.”  The hour is late – if I sleep, I’ll miss out. And I can never go back…But I am tired.

Oh, the quandary –which do you choose, to slumber in peace or be vigilant?

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A debate erupted the other day about the Southern custom of children addressing their elders with “Mrs./Ms./Miss” or “Mr.” followed by the person’s last name, such as “Mr. Boudreaux” (unless otherwise instructed to use the first instead of last name after the title, as in “Mr. Bubba”).

The debate occurred in a seminar here in the Deepest of the Deep South with a facilitator from Michigan. The seminar was about parenting.

A lady in the back asked how this expert would address parents and families who run across the following scenario:

Grandson from the StarNorth comes to visit in the South. Grandma wants to take him to church and around town; grandson is not in the habit of addressing his elders with expected titles. Grandmother instructs him in what social graces are expected.

Grandson is a good sport and uses expected titles, but grandson’s parents (primarily the non-Southern parent) go ballistic when they learn that Grandmother has “brainwashed” grandson into using expected titles during his visit.

Parents’ ire stems from the non-Southern and non-military perspective that using titles is archaic, insulting and infers some level of demeaning patronization.

Grandmother’s argument was, “When in Rome…” which is what she tried to teach grandson, who got it.

Parents didn’t agree and felt Grandmother was undermining the way they had raised him.

Thus, another lovely family conflict went down in the books, providing the profession of family therapists added job security.

I sincerely hope I haven’t ticked off and scared away my commenters by using titles – culturally speaking here, it is a form of utmost respect and honor, which is of course is my intention.

In my daily life, both at home, work and at my children’s schools, little folks get in a little trouble for NOT using expected titles. I have raised my children to do so based on local custom (as well as not wanting to get a call in the middle of the day from the school informing me that my child is in detention for disrespect).

I will qualify this by saying that working with seriously disturbed children sometimes involves being the target of new and improved epithets which are anything but respectful. These children have exponentially expanded my vocabulary well beyond what my SAT and GRE scores ever reflected.

Amazingly, however, these epithets are almost ALWAYS surrounded by expected titles.

Why, just the other day a very young chap (age 7) from the ‘hood spat at me, “F%&# you, Mrs. Muse!” (this, because I handed down a 2-page therapeutic writing assignment addressing said chap’s choice to create a two-foot hole in the wall from a hearty set of donkey-kicks).

Anyway, the Michigan facilitator sided with Grandmother and her “When in Rome…” reasoning.

But what do we do on the internet when Rome is everywhere for everyone?

And how would you tackle this family conundrum, if you were the grandmother? or the parents?

StarNorth (according to the lady) = Oklahoma

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I support this, I really do.

I’m done spluttering over the triple-digit mobile phone bill that, with shaking hands, I authorized an auto-pay due to be deducted from MY account on the 21st.

It could have been worse…nobody in our family got carried away with porn or anything scandalous like that.

Sweet girl, you have a precious, trendy, age-appropriate name that all the parents were naming their children at that time – and I approve, because it was a name not far from the name of the girl we could never have.

That we would have no girls was confirmed last week after my physical therapist distracted me from my hippie tendonitis (okay, technically Gen-X tendonitis in the hip) by regaling me with a story about how her friend knew a friend who had 10 boys…tried for that 11th, and…it was…another boy. Praise the Lord we stopped at four. I will never look back, and only look forward to my cherished daughters-in-law.

(The problem is, after growing up with big brothers and being outnumbered now by five boys four boys and a husband, I’m not certain I’d know what to do with a female in the family.)

The first two

Eighteen months apart, worlds apart developmentally, and yet the closest any brothers could ever be, even now.

So I greet you with a mixture of welcome relief and suspicious guardedness.

I understand you are fourteen, just like my son. You both are about to turn fifteen, about to start enduring the process of student driving, curfew arguments and ACT preparations. (Wait, WE’RE about to start enduring that.)

I am anticipatorily flexing my right foot for the ghost-brake-pedal in the passenger seat, as I type. I have already asked him whom he would prefer to train with, Dad with his booming, blithering bluster or me with my shrill, squeaky shrieks of sheer terror. He was very diplomatic and said, “Mmmm, either one is fine.” He is a fine, young man, as you can tell.

I am mindful that he is bordering on robbing the cradle, as you had just finished eighth grade as he was entering his sophomore year (I am known for extrapolating).

I am glad you met him through a benevolent venue: as counselors at Zoo Camp this summer, the place his science teacher told us to sign him up for because of his “natural aptitude” in that area. Until you, I thought his natural aptitude was in the field of science. I suppose you can squeeze somewhere into the scientific category. Chemistry? Biology? Let’s stop right there.

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He had no idea how close he was to the Tennessee border here…and then, it meant absolutely nothing to him. He had his sights focused on the moon, Mars and the Milky Way. And he still sees stars…

Up until you, he was adept at handling all manner of reptiles, raising various species of amphibians, fishing, hunting and experimenting with hand-made bows/arrows, cast nets and spears. He was blissfully in touch with his inner caveman.

This is a kid who had no shame even as a baby, bypassing the typical kiss by a politician, and instead offering a hearty post-breastfeeding ERF right down the back of said politician – at the capitol – not long before the hapless representative was due out on the floor of the House.

And then YOU came and caught his fancy and made him all conscious about himself.

You might not like him if you saw his bedroom and how often I have to get on him about it. (He assures me the empty Coke cans tipped over on his computer hutch have everything to do with his latest experiment in building a new fishing contraption and nothing to do with careless trash – you need me to post a pic of that?).

He has to be reminded to water his leopard gecko and to clean out the filter for the vicious snapping turtle he caught in the bayou at the end of the road, and defrosting the baby mice for the snake he put into captivity who fell out of the old, oak tree and on to our back deck.

But his sheets are clean, by gum. I see to that. We struggle over getting the hair cut, but I always win (take note). And he thanks me later.

Honey, he tells me you live in Tennessee. Typical of a guy, he failed to obtain critical details like where you are, what school you attend and all that jazz, so I have no way of snooping you out online. He WAS able to tell me you are in another time zone, which narrows it down to Chattanooga or one of those hilly, Rock City-type places. The gnomes at that creepy mountaintop place always freaked me out, but I’m certain you’ve nothing to do with such tourist kitsch since your family vacations here and in other fashionable places like Destin.

I was always a little suspicious of people from Tennessee until I attended college in Virginia and learned that some of the finest and feistiest women are from Tennessee. I can’t put my finger on WHAT it is about women ladies from Tennessee, but they have class and aren’t afraid to do right. Why, my very best friends from the Volunteer State in college hailed from Germantown and Knoxville . Some of my favorite memories span from Memphis to Bristol. And one of my favorite bloggers is from Tennessee, so y’all must be okay. But what is it with female Tennesseans?

Plus, I shared a plane ride with the entire Volunteer football team one evening. Although they were a little pumped from winning that day, they had some of the best manners I’ve ever known in a group of sweaty, swarthy young men. It was, perhaps, the first time I was not carded. I cannot deny that orange is my favorite color.

And besides, I give Tennessee credit for maintaining my basic shopping needs when we relocated briefly to Kentucky and the nearest Victoria’s Secret, Costco and Krispy Kreme (in that order) were in Nashville. It was ONLY two hours, and always worth the drive.

I reckon my son is now kicking himself for telling me, when I asked, to go ahead and toss that brochure from Vanderbilt that was courting him for college. Thank goodness we get regular mailings from Vanderbilt since his little brother with Down syndrome got the best treatment of his life at Vanderbilt.

I’d just ask that if and until we bump up our text plan, will you please make sure that you give our son his money’s worth? Please don’t text him with messages like, “Hi!” and “Whazzup?”  that cost us $.20/text. I ask that you write at least 20 words per text, that’s one cent per word.

I have asked our son to do the same (except according to your text records, which we responsibly reviewed, he accordingly responded with “Hey!” and “Not much,” and “Bah (“bye – sorry his accent is a little thicker than yours – comes with the territory) – we have given him the same lecture…we believe being more verbose will facilitate both your English pursuits). And I will at least be operating under the assumption that we are making the most of our text plan.

Is there a reason why you scrutinize what time he texts you back? I can vouch for him 95 % of the time – he is either out fishing with his neighbors/friends, or at band practice. So how come you can text him when it’s convenient for you, but if we let him go out night fishing with his friends and the alligators, you get all weird? Just wondering.

I suppose you are helping to answer a bunch of questions I had all those years when my boyfriends didn’t respond or were MIA when I assumed they should be there just for MOI.

NOW I GET IT!! And it’s all good. I hope you can see that, dear girl! Let men be men – we’ll be better women for it, in the long run.

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He’s grinning about gigging all those sting rays out there. And nothing more, I assure you.

One last question – am I supposed to call your parents and rat on y’all about all this texting? Do they know about this? Is it my responsibility as the boy’s mother, or in this day and age, is it commonplace to be texting willy-nilly with the boy in the state next door? My gut’s telling me to invite them down for a beachy weekend full of gumbo and good times. It’d just be the right thang to do. If the kids wouldn’t DIE of embarrassment.

Just keep shuffling your feet and watch for the sting rays and sea nettles….both of y’all.

And always be true to your Crimson Tide.

No secret biscuit recipes until the deal is sealed, y’hear?

Thanks, God, for the next generations…

 

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Thank you, dear readers, for your thoughts and prayers for the little ones I serve, and I wish you all a very merry Christmas!

~~ssm

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Dear                            ,

I hope you know that even though you just came to (this lockup hospital) Santa always knows where you are, so you don’t have worry that I didn’t know where to find you this Christmas! Santa comes to (this hospital), too, and I know all my boys and girls, and especially YOU!

I’ve been told that you’ve come through some very, very hard times in your life recently, and that it is terribly difficult for you to talk to others about those times. I want you to know that besides Christmas presents, I am going to give you a different type of present, a present that doesn’t come in a box or in wrapping. That present is called COURAGE, and it is something I know you already have plenty of. But I am giving you MORE, because you are very dear to me and you didn’t deserve to have the things happen to you that happened. Those things, dear one, were NOT your fault. (Remember that naughty people, especially grown-ups who are supposed to know better, get lumps of coal and a lifetime of shame for things like that).

Please know that as you use the courage I give you, time will help heal your pain. And I want you to know how very proud I am of how strong you’ve had to be, and how strong you will be as you learn to trust grown-ups again. That is not an easy thing to do. In the meantime, please don’t hurt yourself or hurt others – you are such a beautiful child, and I want you to feel good about yourself and about your life. You have a very bright future.

Thank you for believing in me, because I believe in YOU, too.

Merry Christmas with Love,

Santa

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Dear                             ,

Thank you for writing to me with your Christmas list. I always love to hear from the boys and girls I care so much about, and you are one of them!

I will try to get you as many of the things on your list as you listed. Even though you won’t be able to be home with your family this Christmas, I know where to find you at (this hospital). Santa doesn’t need keys! Listen for the clatter of my reindeer on the roof.

Since you asked me for some things, I’d like to ask you for something. I would like you to work on not saying naughty things when you get angry – try not to curse, not to make threats to hurt other people or your family, and to try to be respectful. Remember, the people you talk to are people I love and care for, too, and I like to see people happy. You are a smart boy, and I know you will be able to make good choices, even though things aren’t perfect.

Enjoy your presents, and have a very, Merry Christmas!

Love,

Santa

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Dear                          ,

What up, bro’? Thank you for writing me such a good letter! I will try to bring you as many things as I can from your list. I like how your writing has improved, and that you are able to talk respectfully to other people about what you’re feeling inside, more than before. That is what makes things better.

Did you have a nice birthday? I was so excited that you had so much fun and got to go on a pass and all that jazz. I overheard you asking me to bring you a Dad for Christmas, and I am working on that, although it won’t be THIS Christmas – hopefully soon, though. I want you to know that even though your family can’t be together this Christmas, that I know of another family who is waiting for YOU to join them. They will wait for you to finish working on your treatment goals, so keep trying to do your best. Everything will work out just fine.

And someday, I hope you decide to become a professional athlete – I don’t know anyone else your size who can shoot a hoop from across the gym each and every time like you do. You’re a pretty amazing guy. And now that you’re eight, you’ll be able to do even more!

Have a very, Merry Christmas and enjoy all your presents!

Love,

Santa

p.s. – Don’t try to fool the Tooth Fairy any more – she reports directly to ME. But your therapist told me that everything’s cool now, so we’re good, dude. Jam on.

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Dear                          ,

I got your letter that you wrote to me and I want you to know how much it meant to me. I will try to bring you as many things on your list as I can. My elves are working overtime to get everything just right.

I know how difficult it must be not only to be so far away from home, but to have to wait so long for the right family for you. I am so proud of how patient you are and how much hope you continue to have even though it feels like it’s taking forever. I see how hard you are working on your treatment goals, and I know someday you will join a new family who is waiting for the right child – that’s YOU! In the meantime, I want you to have fun this Christmas.

When you are sad, please remember that I am thinking of you and that so many people are working to get you home. Don’t do things to hurt yourself (no more tying things around your neck!) or to hurt others – this is very important, because I love all my children very dearly, and I want you to feel better, to feel happy. Remember that God and I care for you very much and will make sure that you stay safe this Christmas. We will wipe your tears away with our love. Never give up, never lose hope – stay strong and keep facing forward to your bright future. Keep believing!

Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas, with love,

Santa

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I began this post with a small collection of things that didn’t make sense over the past week, but fortunately, the planets aligned for the most part.

Of the things that threw me:

1.)  “I told you we should have brought sunscreen to go get the Christmas tree.” Most people were in shorts and t-shirts, sweaty and swarthy and crimson around the collar as they claimed their holiday cheer. Usually we at least get to wear long sleeves and jeans to get the job done, but not this year. It just looked/felt weird. While the rest of the country went home to make hot chocolate after the traditional tree-claiming fiasco, we went for a jump in the lake, so to speak.

2.) A sign (“Caution: Manatee Area”), in between two heavy equipment machines. Either…why were they working so hard in a manatee area, or why did a manatee helper put the sign up? Seems like something needs to be done above ground-level to get the job accomplished, assuming the point is not to disturb the feeding manatees. Pardon the lack of quality in the pic, I was on the fly and working hard not to bash into the makeshift lane barriers:

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(Parenthetical insert): We threw Grandma in the canoe Saturday for a big adventure in manatee sightings…the manatees were naught during our trip, but she enjoyed seeing the Christmas lights and decorations on the neighbors’ riverfront structures and docks:

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3.) I put the word out there that we would like a clergy person to visit Grandma regularly for a variety of reasons. I was told, “I know just the person! Your mother would get along great with this one. They charge a fee for visitation, but I know they’d enjoy each others’ company!”

WHAT?? Since when did it cost money to come to Jesus? Color me befuddled. And a few other things.

4.) I asked for and was given the 21st off, my first stretch of 5 consecutive days off in 5 years. Somebody had to go and tell me after the fact that that’s the last day on the Mayan calendar, so I said, “Well, at least now I’ll have it off in case we get sucked into a universal vacuum.” Are all those MREs in my pantry left over from Katrina are still good?

Anyone?

5.) Someone please inform my employer that this is how I wind up being late for work when I am rushing around trying to get ready to face the day, which can involve up to seven lawyers at any given moment (and I’m not a lawyer):

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How can you strut away into the “real world” when a little person engages you as such? Sometimes the “situations” at home are as big as the “situations” elsewhere, and demand equal but different attention, for the ultimate betterment of society. The little time we take today shapes the big time needed for tomorrow.

What went terribly right:

Presents under the tree (children staring up into the beauty of the tree, no materialism):

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– the 4 y.o. is asking us to go to the “Christmas Present Park” to fetch some presents to put under the tree. I wish it were that easy!

In an odd move this year, instead of parking the tree front and center in the front window where God and everyone can see our tree, we plopped it in a spot in the house where WE all can see, instead. The children liked it better there, and besides, the first one to knock the tree down or shatter an ornament will have less of a clean-up job.

Really and truly, Daddy DID go to the auto parts store today to get a fuse for the big tree lights which predictably didn’t light up this year after a year of monitoring squirrels and bats in the attic. He got the wrong size. Impatient as I am, I just had to slap a string of miniature lights on the bottom half before he could rectify the situation. The kids, bless their hearts, cared less – they were agog with the magic of Christmas. Bulb size/type simply was NOT an issue.

In a crass move of impulsivity and sheer sweaty exasperation, we permitted the four-year old to choose this year’s tree, a Leland Cyprus, with branches too soft and fragile to accommodate many of our ornaments. This was the best move ever: not only did it boost his sense of self-esteem and worth in the family, it made tree-decorating half-time, since many of the ornaments were “too heavy.” It was simpler, softer and twice the joy. And we were in and out of the Christmas tree farm in under 30 minutes.

Y’all, take it easy this season – don’t fret, don’t be compulsive, let something go. The meaning of the season is so much bigger than the things we think we MUST do. Really, it’s more important to think about what you do throughout the entire year than during this month alone.

Hey, God, help us stay focused on You and Your wishes for us despite our own ideas of what we “should” be doing/saying/thinking/feeling/accomplishing. Help us to slow down and know You. Really.

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