April 26, 2009

Aren't the clouds amazing???

When our children were growing up, my Dad used to say, "Did you write that down?" He was referring to the amazing words that seemed to tumble daily from the mouths of our four girls. "That is so cute!" he would tell me. Even when I KNEW my kids were incredible, I was too busy to stop and write anything down. But in Dad's shirt pocket, he kept a small notebook which he pulled out frequently, jotting down reminders of things he might forget as he grew older. Though I never found those notebooks, for sure, he wrote down our girls' words that seemed to charm him so. As the years flew by I often wished I had written down my girls' words, so cute, so honest, so profound. With today's technology mothers write beautiful blogs that not only report the details of daily living but also capture the soulful tales of how a child grows into the amazing person they are meant to be.

Children are our greatest teachers, they sometimes see what we miss, what we are too busy to notice or learn. They don't say just cute things...they say important things we need to hear. That happened to me the other day. With a major computer issue at work, we all joyfully made an early escape from the world of child welfare. As I climbed on to the Commuter Express, a mother with 3 children occupied the first row of seats. In her arms she held a wiggly baby under a year. A toddler sat next to her by the window and the big sister, a girl about 6, occupied the window seat directly across the aisle from her mom. Her companion seat was piled high with bags of every type, an umbrella stroller stood collapsed by the seat. The bus had just pulled out from it's bay at Dadeland South when I heard a tiny voice say,

"I think it is so amazing how the clouds look in the sky!" Through the small space I could see the small girls' eyes transfixed on the deep blue Florida sky filled with fluffy white clouds. I wasn't sure if she was speaking to her mother or was just in awe of the lovely sky above her head as she gazed through the window of the bus. Looking back, I remember thinking how touched everyone must be to hear her sweet childish words, but only I had heard them. Without even looking out the window I stood and leaned over the comfortable seat and said gently touching her shoulder,

"I think it is so amazing too!" There was something about her wistful little voice, discovering a treasure that touched her soul, I wanted to affirm her and agree with her about that beautiful truth. As I sat down, looking for no response, her mother asked her what the lady had said. The question seemed to be a check on whether the child had done something wrong. Immediately I spoke, quoting her daughters words then mine. She gave me a tired, relieved smile, soon she was asleep with her baby resting soundly stretched across her knees, her arm around the toddler.

But through the small space I watched the little girl, her eyes fixed on everything, missing nothing until her tired eyes reluctantly closed, her head resting against the window.
How many times are we so encumbered with the busyness of life that we don't just watch the clouds in the sky, or receive the wisdom of a small child, take an old person's hand or listen to a homeless person's story? Maybe for me too many...but am so grateful for that sweet little girl who reminded me. I am reminded daily that Jesus told his disciples that the Kingdom of God is like a little child. God bless her wherever she is today and may nothing steal the wonder and love for beauty in her soul!

April 25, 2009

I love this child...

One morning while visiting in Virginia, I came into the family room to find Ethan pointing to his brother Nate's trike that had been placed at the end of the sofa. Since we had been talking about respecting people and things, I couldn't imagine what he was thinking.

"Look Marm, isn't this cool?!??" Totally enthusiastic, leaving me confused. I couldn't imagine what could be cool about a trike on the sofa.

"No Buddy, that isn't cool because trikes are to ride on and their wheels get very dirty and could make the sofa very dirty too." As I reached to get it down he assisted me and with no guile pointed to the large stain and said,

"But Marm I needed to put it there because it covers up where I spilled my milk by accident, so it is cool!" His seriousness just made me laugh. There is something about this child who is often thought of as a terror by his mother. His tender spirit many times appears and cracks open like an egg when he really shows you what is in his heart, and that is what I love. It is being a child.

Once when he was visiting us in Miami I heard a noise in the bedroom. Turning on the light I ask him why the lamp cord is on the bed. He explains he is wondering what would happen it you break the cord open so he was chewing on it. I try believe it, most of the time I think his mother must be lying when she tells me about her boys escapades! Maybe not I tell myself grabbing the cord off the bed. I am not a screamer.... but I strongly tell him that is dangerous, fearing too much acknowledgement may cause him to be more curious.

"Buddy, I think you are not tired yet, how about I read to you?" He declines and I suggest a movie on my laptop. We browse Netflix together and I ask him what he'd like.

"Marm, I would like something very inappropriate." he tells me "INAPPROPRIATE!??" I am thinking, what could he possibly be mean?!

"Buddy, could you tell me what that means?" I ask cautiously.

"You know Marm, with a lot of bad guys.." Ethan explains. Isn't that so how we are as adults but would never speak the words. We have internal restraints that keep us from saying what is in our hearts. Even the outspoken have them.....but children, well, not so much, and there is something refreshing about it.

"Lets call Mom and ask her about this, okay?" He thinks that is a good idea but explains his mom doesn't like him to watch those movies. Strangely he doesn't care if I check with her.

"Okay Buddy, let's not bother her. I have some DVDs in the closet" and I head for the door.

"And Marm....no Bob Squarepants! He's rude!" Ethan calls from the bed.

"Gotcha covered Buddy, no Bob Squarepants!" I love this kid!

April 14, 2009

This is a rerun pic but I loved it....Happy Birthday Katie!!! We love you!!

April 10, 2009

It's gone....right out of my hand!

It happened in a second, as his small hands brushed roughly against mine. Immediately I felt instant possessiveness, like the smallest child must feel when another takes his/her toy. It's instinctive, "Hey! it's mine!!" I didn't speak those words but I felt them. For milliseconds I sat paralysed in shock, stunned, not moving from my seat on the 38 Bus at 220 Street. Then I jumped to my feet, rushing to tell the driver what had happened! As he reached for his phone we silently watched the boy of 12 or 13 dressed in jean shorts and a white tee dash across the bus way and across US 1.

Was it his adrenaline flowing that made him fly? Or maybe it was the excitement of holding my iPhone in his hand that caused him to run so hard with a strong, long stride, holding his head high. He could run track I thought. He was gone in seconds, melting into a back street. No one would chase after him. He disappeared. It was then I noticed the people on the bus were yelling,

"Hey!! You going to start this ___________bus or not!!??" I turned to a sea of impatient angry faces discussing what had happened.

"I..I'm very sorry for the delay!" I called out softly as I dropped to my Rosa Park seat. I always try to sit there, I want to sit in a seat named for such a brave woman. A kind girl stepped forward and handed me her phone to use. Then, like a herd of cattle, the crowded bus was suddenly emptying, people pushing against one another's backs, hoping to make the 38 bus that had pulled up along side our bus...they exited grumbling, even the man in the wheel chair. There was no hero to run after the boy, it was just a cell phone, and who needs such a fancy phone.

Two people remained on the bus. I handed the phone back to the nice girl and told her thanks. She was sorry for me as she rushed for the other bus. Returning to the driver I encouraged him to move on, those two people had somewhere to go! I grasped the plexiglass that separated us.

"Did you see him? He was just a boy!" My chest felt heavy. That boy looked just like M., a foster child. Mary, his case manager worries everyday that the child will end up on a wrong path. She NEVER stops working on his behalf, she wants a good life for him. I burst into tears...not just the kind you shed when sad but I wept deeply.
"Where is this boy's mother? Who gives him dinner and teaches him truth?? Who believes he can make right decisions and tells him so! Did you see him???! Oh he was just a boy!" The driver nods but is silent and lets me weep unashamedly in the front of the 38!
"I am sorry that happened Mommy" Finally he speaks, then gently chides me about how people are and how you should never openly show something like an iPhone. Yes, everyone will say that to me I am sure, others will say the bus is not safe.
"We could ride all the way to your stop and not one person would say a hello! Oh Mommy, people are not nice! They are not!" I object immediately as he vehamently shakes his head. "Mommy did you see the blind lady? She only rode two stops, but no one, NOT ONE gave her a seat!...people are not nice!!"
"A blind lady??!...No..where was she?! I didn't see her!" Then he tells me where she was standing, it was about a foot from me. Me.... Miss Nicey-Nice let the blind lady stand. I felt sad and started to cry once again.
I rode pretty much all the way to Homestead weeping, laughing and telling the bus driver I didn't want to become jaded or fearful about people, that would be the worst thing to happen to me. We talked about Easter and the message of true love and goodness. He gave me his hankerchief, at times his own eyes become watery, he even offered to give me his phone.
I loved my iPhone, and it is wrong to steal. I am not excusing the child. But I was a victim of a crime because I broke all my own rules...I was not careful, nor vigilant nor did I look at the people on the bus, something I always do! What are their stories...what will we learn from one another on this ride (corny...for sure) But there s always good with the bad. And this day is no exception. Jim is waiting...even without receiving the text I was writing him as my phone was snatched away. Always waiting, always there. And as we came to a stop I asked the driver,
"But the boy....that was sad, don't you think?" The bus driver nods yes, he tells me he doesn't meet many good people like me. I shake my head and tell him he does, everyday, people like him.