If You Give A Boy a Bowtie

 

If You Give A Boy A Bow-tie

If you give a boy a bow-tie, people will tell him that he is cute.

Pretty soon his brother will get jealous and start wearing bow ties too. If you give a brother a bow tie, pretty soon he will want a fedora to go with it.

 

If you give a kindergartener a fedora, he will suddenly remember his suspenders. If he gets his suspenders, he will refuse to wear pants with them.

If a boy refuses pants, a mom will have to fight it and end up explaining that while Jesus didn’t have to wear pants to school, I am not Mary and until he can turn water into wine he has to wear pants.

When he wears pants he will take off his suspenders, no longer looking like A Sound of Music extra and will want a picture.

kaitandjonbowtie

If a Mom takes a picture, the boy will say, “Cheese!”, which reminds the mom that the cheese stick and other lunch items are still in the fridge. If she goes to the fridge and tells the boy to put his lunch in his backpack, the boy will start putting other wanted items into the backpack.

If a boy has his backpack, he will start to walk to school and a neighbor will say you missed the bus. If you miss the bus you have to walk, which will make the bus then magically turn down the street. However, you will have left the house.

If a mom sees a bus that her child needs to be on, she will wave the bus down and embarrass the boy, which is her right and duty. If the boy gets onto the bus, he will forget how he begged to ride it and not care that his teacher prefers it, and will start clinging to his mother and panicking.

If a mother has a panicking son on a bus, she will still strap him in while hugging him and praying out loud for courage. The mother will wave to the bus while her son screams to the kind bus aid, Then she will look for her phone unsuccessfully and then leave to lead Bible Study.

If she is on time to the church and drops off her other bow-tie wearing son, she will find a friend to sit next to and lament a lost phone. Then the friend’s phone will ring. It will be the school, calling the emergency contact to say they tried to call the very phone they were holding and that her son put it into his backpack. The friend will laugh.

When a friend laughs, it  will make the mom laugh and realize you have to make the best out of the situation and make the difficult daily grind fun. She will do something like invent a Bow-Tie Tuesday. This will spread and become a fun trend.

Then, invariably, someone will think it is a good idea to give a boy a bow tie.

When Godly Men Hate the Disabled:Transforming the Church by Godly Example

Behold, the North American Church: simultaneously known as loving and hateful. Nearly every Christian I know has a painful experience that left them feeling rejected, unloved, or held to an impossible standard.  Most also have tales of authentic people who loved them well and pulled up a chair for them at the Holy Table.

Which Bible character comes to mind when I mention distaste and hatred for the disabled?

Pharisees, perhaps? Those guys seemed to hate everyone and kept impossible standards. Maybe the Old Testament Israelites with endless rules who wouldn’t let anyone unclean into the temple? Certainly.

The character I think of may surprise you. King David. Yep, the king who was a man after God’s own heart.  In 2 Samuel when David is about to set up shop as king, the Jebusites deterred him by putting the blind and lame at the gate so he could not enter without defiling himself. 2 Samuel 5:8 reads: And David said on that day, “Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack ‘the lame and the blind,’ who are hated by David‘s soul.” Therefore it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.”

Woah. A man after God’s own heart HATES the lame and blind in his  SOUL? Those verses pierce my heart. Considering the list of David’s other sins– pride, adultery, murder, ignoring his daughter’s rape… this man is supposed to be after God’s own heart?! How on Earth?!

The answer is David’s sinful perspectives always change. He turns his eyes and heart to the Lord, repents and transforms. Sin requires a Savior, and David is delivered from his hateful prejudices. As God often does, he uses relationships and those David cared for to change his heart. David’s closest friend, confidant and brother-in-law was Jonathan. When King Saul and Jonathan are killed in battle, David is deeply grieved. Years later, David asks if there are any of Jonathan’s descendants that he can bless. Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth is brought into the palace to meet David… at which time David realizes Mephibosheth was dropped by his nurse while fleeing and both feet were crippled when he was five. David could have given him gifts or even let his family live in the palace, but his heart changed. He commanded his leading servant, Ziba who was to inherit,

“And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall always eat at my table.”

2 Samuel 9:13: So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate always at the king’s table. Now he was lame in both his feet.

Somehow David’s deep love for Mephibosheth overpowered his bitterness, hatred and past actions for the lame. He saw a PERSON more than he saw the disability. The King pulled up a permanent chair at the Royal Table for someone who was once kept from his house. How remarkable that two blind men cry out to Jesus, “Thou Son of David, have mercy on us!”

I read the Bible with a different perspective now that my two sons have disabilities. 3,000 years ago, I would not EVER be able to enter the temple to worship the God who made my children as he saw fit- in his own image yet different.

The Church and I have had a tumultuous relationship. Several years ago my son’s sensory issues and then my younger son’s cancer prevented me from coming to church and worship freely. I left discouraged and dejected, firmly grasping tiny hands and leaving  before worship ended. I learned why 90% of people with a disability in their family do not attend church, even when they want to come. They feel like the church cannot handle our children.

Jesus spent over half of his earthly ministry with ‘the disabled’. Like David, he consistently ‘pulled up a chair at his table’.  Ziba was to inherit, but instead served Miphibosheth until his death, when Ziba was given the inheritance he expected. Church, we can be Zibas. We can scoot over at the royal table, prepare and share our blessings and honor the disabled who still believe they aren’t able to enter the King’s House.

My sons’ most influential disability is the same as mine: A SINFUL NATURE in need of the Savior.

For this reason, I am now dedicated to launching, developing and strengthening inclusive ministries wherever God takes our family. My sons won’t be kept from the King’s House and the Lord’s table because of their disabilities if I can help it. They are fearfully and wonderfully made in his image. WE must transform how the church engages so that our hearts can be transformed and turned toward Christ together. Jesus commanded us to go out and bring people to him.

There is a place at the King’s Table for us all. Pull up a chair and pass the salt. We have a harvest to bring in.

My First Teacher Note This Year

Mrs. B,

Thank you for your notes in the Communication Folder. I am glad some reading, counting, and art skills were demonstrated in the three chaotic hours you were given to herd cats… er, educate and get to know your kindergarten students today. In response to the note that he screamed a lot in protest and hit you when transitioning from play time to work time, let me say:

WHAT IN THE WORLD?! Here you get a new room and student list the week before school and are gearing up for all the usual issues, adding on students with learning difficulties?!  You come in ready to change the world one mind at a time by believing in these little underdogs and leading them to be their best selves… and you get screamed at and maimed?! You aren’t a zoo keeper in charge of the  honey badger exhibit! Worse- MY KID was the culprit.

For the LOVE! You’ll be sitting with your husband tonight at dinner (hopefully take out) and casually say, ‘Hey! I was screamed at all day and only got hit a few times by a few kids, but at least no one barfed or tried to pee on the 5th grade lockers!’…and you will probably actually think it is a good thing. I know this because you smiled and said, “I’m USED to it” and “it’s new for him”. Then you said he is actually very smart and sweet!

Okay. You are a teacher. Your options for discipline are limited. Personal safety, comfort and sanity are limited– more so in your class! Detention, extra laps, extra homework, suspension… these aren’t plausible options for the kindergarten kids with extra challenges.THANK YOU for not being the teacher who crosses her arms and declares that if we don’t get our act together he will end up in prison. (Like…most of the the Apostles, MLK,  Nelson Mandala…etc.)

As for the consequences…I literally dragged him home wrapped around my leg. I did this trying to push a stroller, walking behind a mom who was trying to ignore us,  with a perfectly dressed daughter who was joyfully telling her all about the day. Example modeling! Except he didn’t notice the example of the Student of the Year.   I firmly explained it is unacceptable and reminded him of good ways to calm down. I made the ‘good behavior= rewards’ chart, hugged him and told him we would try again tomorrow, and then reminded myself that tomorrow is another day.

I wish the hard moments could be a montage that goes into the time where he is greatly succeeding and blowing expectations out of the water… but until then THANK YOU for doing the hard work of teaching, redirecting, and meeting our kids in their icky places. It’s life-changing. Until then, expect more encouragement and back-up while we do the hard work of raising up a generation of great kids.

Tomorrow is another day. I believe in you.

-The Mom of the Kid Who Had a Rough First Day

 

First Day of School Olympics

Surely I’m not the only one who imagines her life as if it were a movie trailer. It’s the first day of school. For some moms their trailer for today would have a horror motif.  For some, it is a Hal-Mark ‘coming of age’ movie, heavy on the sap. For others, it is “How Momma Got Her Groove Back”.

Today I sent my son to kindergarten. This afternoon, my 3 year old ‘chromosomally-enhanced’ leukemia survivor will go to Pre-K. Meanwhile, the 2016 Olympics dominate televisions worldwide. Thus, today’s movie trailer is cool, speedy and has  an Olympic theme… a la Cool Runnings. We stand out like a Jamaican bobsledding team.

The fact is, what many families do naturally can be herculean tasks for us. We’ve had thousands of hours of therapy, practice, training, doctor’s appointments and pep talks to get to this moment.

Today we walked the stroller up into a crowd of parents, students and teachers and prepared for the day. Much like these athletes, by the time we get to what we have trained and worked for, we are ready. Excited. Confident.

Frankly, it was a tiny bit of a mess. The heat and humidity killed the hair styles. My child’s teacher and para-professionals weren’t there. No one knew where he should go because his room was not on the kinder-hall, but with the 6th graders.

I laughed. Really. My kid was knocking on the doors and trying to sneak in with the 6th graders. I ultimately let another teacher take him by the hand to deliver him. There wasn’t a goodbye, a wave, or anything. We were ready and confident because we had our crowd.

These athletes are surrounded by cheering fans, family, coaches and their flags. I envisioned the many doctors, therapists, family members, friends… all those who helped us learn new words, how to eat, how to crawl, how to take steps, and how to read sight words.

We all need to be reminded of the good others see in us. It’s hard to argue with a motivational speech from Yul Brenner. (” I see pride! I see power!..)

The fact is, you can look at a school and pick out kids who don’t seem like they ‘belong’, whatever that means.  30 years ago, keeping them home or in an institution was the usual course of action for a child with Down’s Syndrome. Instead we are facing challenges head on and defying the odds.  However, in the Olympic games we call that “A Cinderella Story”.

Yes, there are those who excel and dominate at school. Academia is the wheelhouse in which they thrive and I LOVE that.

My Team… well, we are easy to spot. We are often underdogs. We sing a lot. We aren’t polished. I am Mom. I am the coach. I get us out of our comfort zone and figure it out. I cheer like a fool when we qualify and do the basic things.

This time last year, infections and scars from cancer were a primary concern and school was not an option until after Christmas.

This year, my William the Conqueror walked on his own two feet and started a new stage without me needing to push.

I sure hope your kids get to interact with kids like mine this year. I’d love to high-five you in the pick-up line and cheer that no one threw up, peed out or cried on the way to school (and that was just the moms!)

We can do this, Y’all.

FEEL THE RHYTHM! FEEL THE RHYME! GET ON UP! BACK TO SCHOOL TIME!