Childhood is Still Waiting

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Do you remember playing in the tub as a kid? The goal of a bath was not to get clean but to play until the skin on your feet and hands got wrinkly. Do you remember picking scabs, counting bruises, jumping off the couch, or on the bed? How about spending who knows how much time figuring out all the quirky little things our little bodies could do? This entailed sitting cross-legged with both feet on top of the thighs, trying to do a handstand or a somersault,  and climbing trees as high as possible until mom got nervous. I remember riding in the car hoping to see a mirage on the road, wishing we would drive over a large hill, and surfing the wind with my hand when the windows were down. It didn’t matter how much time was wasted swinging at the park, talking to friends, or playing basketball because there seemed to be an endless amount of time to grow up.

As an adult, time seems more limited and it’s hard picking a pointless task to spend our precious time pursuing. I find it hard to spend too much time playing make believe with my kids because there are piles of laundry waiting to be washed, dirty dishes in the sink, and dinner always needs to be made. It’s a shame because my kids will grow too fast and there is a quickly fading window of opportunity to have kid-fueled adventures.

Days after my son was diagnosed, I was crying to my mom on the phone. I told her that I felt like I would never be able to move forward and enjoy being a mom again. She gave me what seemed to be odd but simple advice. “Next time he takes a bath, put on your bathing suit and take it with him. Put a bunch of bubbles in the bath and play.” She gave no explanation and I wondered if she truly realized the magnitude of what I was telling her. How would this make my broken heart feel any better? I didn’t really want to do it but I knew my mom, she would make sure I did as she asked so that evening we drew him his bath and filled it full of bubbles. I put on an old pair of shorts and a tank top and sat with him in the tub. He was only three months old, so I sat him on my knee and put the bubbles on his little nose and in his hair. His older brother stood at the edge of the tub and played with the bubbles as well. My oldest thought the notion of mommy in the tub with her clothes on and covered in bubbles was too funny. I began to smile again. In the middle of the bubble filled tub, I was reminded that my newly diagnosed son was the same boy he was before we learned of his diagnosis. He needed all the things he had before, especially the best of his mommy.

The few minutes I spent acting like a kid didn’t solve our problems. There are days I fret and I have had many more tear-filled conversations with my mom. What it did do is remove me briefly from the fast-paced world of adulthood and remind me of why it is such a joy to have children. My kids are oblivious to the responsibilities of adulthood, as they should be, but I cannot be oblivious to their childhood. My children need me to be an adult but they also need me to understand what it’s like to be a child and for that, I sometimes need to act like a kid. I need to let the laundry, dishes, and dinner wait so I can let my kids, and myself know just how fun it is to be a kid.

So, if you are reading this post, here is my challenge to you: go be a kid. Do it. Blow bubbles, find a park and swing (make sure you lean back as far as you can on the way forward so it looks like your feet are touching the sky and say, “I’m flying!”), run up a slide, hop from one piece of living room furniture to the other pretending the floor is lava, color (on your stomach and on the floor), make a blanket fort, or draw yourself and bath with way too many bubbles. Yes, adulthood is about maturity but it doesn’t mean all the fun of childhood should be lost. You will be amazed what a few moments away from adulthood will do for you. Make time for moments you will look back on and smile. So, go ahead, take a moment, be a kid.

*d*

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Fighting Fear with Two More “F” Words

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We moved recently and the best feature about this house is our front porch. We installed a porch swing shortly after our move. I like to watch the cars and people go by but I especially enjoy sitting on the swing during a storm.  I like feeling the chill of a cold front rushing along a spring storm. I will eye the trees to see if the old saying is true about leaves turning over before the rain. “When leaves show their undersides, be very sure rain betides.” I love hearing the rain on the windows and the feel of the moist wind while impatiently waiting to hear a crack of thunder. But there is a limit to my love of storms. I don’t like damaging storms and I am especially afraid of tornados. I have never seen one but my childhood was full of tornado hype. Why? I had two older brothers and what kind of brothers would they be if they didn’t exploit their little sister’s fear? I admit, they were good story tellers. Everyone from Freddie Krueger to Chef Boyardee came in on a tornado to haunt my dreams. (Yes, you read that right.) The actual chances of being amidst a tornado are pretty slim but with children, facts don’t seem to matter. The idea of what to be afraid of usually comes from the first person who plants the seed of fear. My brothers were farmers with pockets full of seeds. I am almost ashamed of the many obsurd fears I had as a child.

My oldest is eight.  He often comes home from school asking if things like warewolves and vampires are real. Even with his limited personal knowledge of such things, other children seem to know enough to make him squirm. I admit, he is gullible. We limit the nightmare inducing programming, probably because we enjoy our sleep. The Indiana Jones movies were popular when I was his age. My parents didn’t allow me to watch some of the more graphic parts of these movies, if we can even classify them as graphic by today’s standards. I was exposed to the horrors of life at the times my parents felt I could handle them maturely. I was probably watching a limited amount of Rated R movies by the time I was as a fourteen. I will probably do the same with our children. (There are the fears we must explain appropriately to children as soon as possible but maybe I will further discuss those in a later post.) So as soon as I was allowed, I wanted to watch all the parts of Indiana Jones I had missed. I wanted to know for myself if there was really something to fear. I will note that I have since viewed the films numerous times and they remain some of my favorites today. I learned to fight fear with knowledge and what facts could not explain, I relied on faith.

These days I obtain a great deal of my knowledge by being a Google junkie. I am not proud to admit my vast knowledge of useless movie info or what syptoms may or may not be associated with certain ailments. During my fourth pregnancy I could be counted on to stuff my head with pregnancy related articles. I should have been an expert by then, more like a baby factory, but it puzzled me to why I still felt the need to investigate. I ended up blaming heredity. When my dad was in charge of the remote control we would be stuck watching PBS, but then again, we only had five channels. And my mom, she owned a large medical dictionary. Since we couldn’t afford impractical  doctor visits, she relied on her outdated mammoth to self-diagnose our illnesses and reassure us we weren’t going to meet an early demise . As much as I claimed that I would not turn into my parents, my viewing choices are reminiscent of PBS and I am reminded of that larger than usual medical book every time I open my WebMD app.

Adulthood reminds me of why I searched for the truth when I was a kid. I am closely effected by three incurable diseases. While I do admit my own fear of these diseases, I won’t be crippled by them. I am fighting with facts and relying on faith. I will keep searching and asking, but I will probably never be satisfied. I know all the knowledge will never rid these diseases, or even tornados, from my life but I have the power to control my fear. The control over fear must also be rooted in faith because sometimes no matter how much I dig, there are things I cannot control. So I choose to teach my children about fear in a positive manner. Unlike those times as a kid, I cannot run screaming every time the unknown jars my senses. I have to teach by example and I am frequently tested watching my son lose control to epilepsy. I don’t consider it bravery as much as necessity. Once fear comes over my face, it will soon be on theirs.

I will always be afraid of tornados but I am not afraid of every thunderstorm as I was as a child. I have educated myself and know the difference. I now enjoy what I once feared and have prepared myself for the worst.

As for the leaves turning over before a storm, deciduous trees, or leaves with soft stems, often turn over as a result of the humidity that precedes a heavy storm.

*d*