Because these are the things I want to remember. The little things that might actually be the big things…
Me: C’mon with me Doctor Anders to the hand doctor. Brush your teeth, change the shirt you have now worn for three days in a row, tie your shoes, make sure you have underwear on and buckle into Ebeneezer (so we name our vehicles),
Anders (age 7): Alright! Let me grab Larsen’s camera so I can get some close-ups of the stitches on your hand. We’ll just call this a date. Let’s hope it involves food.
So we drive 25 minutes, on the way singing together every worship song we can think of with him really wishing he was strumming his guitar (not that he knows any chords yet but the feel makes him glad). Enter into the waiting room where he reads a read-aloud booklet to me. His reading is coming along, but I am still waiting for the “click”. I love the clicks in parenting. I am sure God must love the clicks in me, slow as they come.
Me (while the doc examines my hand): So, the pain and slight swelling is still there but it is coming along. When can I swim and when can I play basketball with my boys?
Doc: You know, I cut down quite far through several layers almost down to your bone to get to the root of the cyst. Because I went so deep the healing will take longer. Ten days until you can immerse it in water and four weeks at least until you are throwing any balls. Healing does not happen with speed.
Me (thinking): I know this truth and as long as I can remember I have been impatient with this truth yet without the process, healing remains incomplete and full function never returns. He binds us the broken-hearted like the bandage around my hand not to cover it but to heal it, intending wholeness. Thank you sweet Jesus that you use all things to instruct me about who You are.
Anders: Hmmm…be still Mom for the camera. This is interesting.
Me: Doesn’t it make you feel faint?
Anders: Pain that is not on me doesn’t bother me as much for some reason. But when it comes to me, oh boy I really feel it!! So where are we going now?
Me: A library. I need a few good hours with you to go over your schoolwork. You take the Stanford next week for the first time and I want you to feel prepared.
So we drive to a library we have never been too and get giddy at the sight of all the books, the quiet, the sunlight. Call us weird. Books with my kids is to me one of life’s sweetest things.
Me: Okay, let’s sprawl out on this couch-type things and get started.
First we read biographies. He loves a good biography. This time around we delve into Louis Braille, George Washington and Harriet Tubman. We spend a lot of time on Tubman and the Civil War. He is listening like a laser would point. Then we go into reading flashcards, onto his phonics workbooks, a review of spelling words, then into double and triple digit addition and subtraction to finish it all up with a review of how to tell time. He’s a quiet learner, usually co-operative if there are no interruptions and focused if there is not activity around him. We stay until the library closes, happy together. Then we get hungry.
Me: What are you hungry for? Let’s imagine what would taste really good to us right now.
Anders: Chinese. They have the white rice you never buy with sweet and sour chicken. Or a nice cafe or coffee shop because you know I really like those sort of places. they feel nice and cozy inside.
So we drive with no luck in finding any sort of these places that are appealing enough to walk into and sit. We come upon a Wal-Mart which always reminds us of Grandma Blycker. She loves Wal-Marts Anders quips. Let’s just wander around and pick out some food. Sure. I say, nothing wrong with “seeking our fortune” sometimes.
He picks out raspberry Greek yogurts, pretzel crackers, strawberries, mango sorbet and orange juice for us. I have a fruit fly for a son.
We pay for our funny dinner and sit in Ebeneezer together in the Wal-Mart parking lot. He is smiling quiet-like as if this is a night to remember and I give him a big kiss on his head and tell him maybe tonight will be the night he’ll loose those two loose front teeth that are flapping back and forth like a trap door.
Me: So, how are doing Zeker (his middle name is Ezekiel and sometimes we call him Zeke) with us almost being ready to move to Mexico? Anything about that you want to chat about now we have some time?
Anders: He leans back and looks at the stars and says kinda slow -I have not thought about all of it at all until a couple days ago. I lay on my bed and stared up at the ceiling and told myself that now I would put some thought into it all. So I did. And the more I thought about it the bigger it got. This is all big, really big. I’m small and I don’t think I even understand how big it all is, but that is okay. I know God is with us.
Can’t we all say that about the world we find ourselves in?
His biggest concern is about the school he will attend in Mexico–can he sit still that long? Will he have a good friend? Will the teacher be kind and warm? Will the work be too hard? Will he miss me too much?
Me: We’ve been talking and praying about your relationship with your brother and sister. And so have they. How do you think your friendships with them are going? Any thoughts, concerns, victories?
Anders: Well, I’ll tell ya the reason Lars and I are doing so much better as brothers lately is because of me (I try not to smirk at this point). I’m holding back real hard on not seeking revenge when he makes me mad or annoys me. The self-control thing and giving a gentle answer is killing me sometimes. I gotta give Jesus my thoughts right away when I just wanna grab his neck and pin him to the ground. He did not used to be so feisty as he is now and I know is must have to do with those hormone things I hear about that happen when you are almost a teenager. He didn’t used to be like that at all. It’s like I started growing up and he started growing down. I tell ya its hard work but I really want us to be good friends. We are still praying together at night in our room, but sometimes when I pray aloud for him I am actually telling God what to tell him. I suppose that isn’t really praying but then Lars has to listen to me.
Me: (the hormone part about had me choking on my fruit…he’s right!) You know, when you grow up you have these same feelings about others and sometimes do these same things. It’s called being human but as the Spirit controls your life more and more you become the real idea of what God meant when He made us to be human and reflect who He is. But I sure hear you and I want to encourage you to keep on and try to notice the ways Lars is helping your friendship grow too and don’t get too puffed up about yourself and what you are doing–that is not very humble if you know what I mean. Am I talking too adult or do you get what I am saying Zeke?
Anders: Yea, I think you mean I should think about him more than me. It is just so much easier to think all about me. Sigh….
Me: So how are things going with Kiersta? I think I can guess, but you tell me.
Anders: Well, you know, you hear her everyday! She never stops talking and she screams and yells so much. She is even daring to dis-respect you and Dad and that is not right. You would think for all the times she is disciplined she would stop those annoying tantrums. I mean I want to be her friend but she always yelling “AAAANNNNDDDEEERRRSSS!”. It makes me nuts! She is gonna have one hard life is she doesn’t cut it out.
Me: I understand completely. But you know how you and I are talking everything out here together and you can tell me your thoughts and feelings? Well, she can’t yet and she is feeling some “transitional stress” which just means she knows things are a little different, she knows we are moving and the only way she knows to deal with it is to act like she is. I am not saying it is right or we will let her, but we do have to answer with a gentle word and pray for her. Sometimes it is okay if you need a break from her too. We all do.
Anders: Yea, that’s the truth. I am just smack in the middle.
Me: You know I was too. I get it. But God planned it for a reason and our family would be lonely without you right there in the middle.
Anders: So they have pet stores in Mexico, huh? Hard to believe for some reason. I hope they have finches. I want a finch room. One wall I want to cover with my paintings of finches and the other walls hang Indian stuff and set up my guitar and keyboard. I’ve been thinking about that. And in my times with Jesus in the morning, I have been talking with him about a new home for my finch-bird Calvin because I know we can’t take him. He has to go to someone who has a cage and would really love him because I am taking my cage for Calvin II. I just don’t know who that would be and I am getting concerned.
So we pause to pray about his beloved bird.
Me: What else have you been talking with Jesus about? What He been speaking to you?
Anders: Oh I mostly thank Him for life. To be alive is so amazing, you know? He tells me I am His.
Yea, son I know. I know. But I needed to be reminded again.
Anders: Okay, I have to ask you something really serious. The God of the Universe is sitting right next to you so you have to tell me the truth. Does the tooth-fairy really exist?
Me: Well, what if I told you I became the tooth-fairy?
Anders starts laughing so hard he can hardly breathe. Between his howling I manage to understand that he is imagining me in a tu-tu with wings, a wand and fairy dust. The vision of this for some reason is hilarious. I suppose it doesn’t exactly fit my personality.
Anders: So you are telling me it is you. And if it is you or Dad then sometimes you must forget, huh? I mean one time I had a tooth under my pillow until it rotted away! That got me thinking! That just was wrong!
Me: Opps. Sometimes we forget or we don’t happen to have cash or coins. You know, the tooth-fairy needs to get more work or she’s on vacation.
Anders: Hhmp. It wouldn’t hurt to make a note to herself. So, it’s you but I still like to pretend. Is it okay to pretend this?
Me: I think so. I think when we imagine things like this when we are children it helps us to believe more as we grow older in a God we can’t see though we see the effects all around us of His presence.
Anders: So believing in the tooth-fairy builds your faith!
Me: ( laughing) You might say that, but you know what I mean. Remember I told you before how the older CS Lewis got the more he read fairy tales The beauty, the mystery, the battles of good and evil led him more and more to the greatest most truest tale, the story of God. All good stories are His and our imaginations are holy.
Anders: I like that. I still think I’d like to see you in wings with a wand!
And he laughs again hysterically all the way home and when we arrive there he runs out and around to open my door and gives me a hug and a kiss on my cheek.
Then he takes my hand and leads me into the house.