Boy in the Fountain

Boy in FountainThis little boy sat in the water, cooling off from the heat, directly on top of a water spout. How old does he look to you?

He loved the feel of the cold water, contrasted with the ninety-eight-degree temperature of the day. There were other children in the fountain – running, splashing, yelling, having fun. But this little guy just sat in the water. He didn’t need much; just to be there was enough. I asked around until I found his mother, and got permission to take the picture. I mentioned that I had children and grandchildren, and I thought her son was adorable. She looked at me, hesitated, then nodded OK, without saying a word.

After posting the picture on Facebook, I received comments from people all over the country. They wrote things like Cute, Adorable, Smart, Awww, and Can I Adopt Him. I “liked” every response.

A year later, I still wonder about him from time to time. What’s his life like? Has he grown much? What’s his family like? Does he ever go back to that fountain?

And I wonder about his future, too. What will become of him? Will he like school? What sports will he want to play? What kind of music? What does he want to do when he grows up? Although that may change a hundred times during his childhood.

Police Officer 1

Then, in light of recent stories in the news, I wonder if he’ll turn out to be a good kid who grows into a fine young man, or if he’ll get into trouble along the way. Will he ever be shot at by a gang, a friend, or a policeman? These thoughts are very real in America these days, and I wonder about this little guy.

I also wonder about my own grandchildren. One of my sons married a black woman, and they have children. I know their interests, their likes and dislikes, their preferences, what they want to be when they grow up. My eight-year-old granddaughter wants to be a doctor. Her five-year-old brother wants to be Buzz Lightyear or Spiderman, depending on the time of day, of course. They love school and learning. They love being part of a congregation of faith. They like movies, and playing family games. Life hasn’t turned ugly for them, yet. But it could. Hate is a powerful force in America. Racism is still prevalent. Unkindness lurks.

I wonder how they might turn out, too. Will they fulfill their dreams? Will they get into trouble? Will they ever be the victims of prejudice or injustice? Will they have to defend Live You Dreamsthemselves simply because their skin is darker, or their hair gives them away? Might they be subject to racial profiling some day? So far, they respect adults and those in authority such as teachers, pastors, and police officers. Will they ever find their trust betrayed? Will they ever be afraid of being shot by someone they trust?

When I finished my lunch appointment and walked back to my car, the little boy was gone. His mother must have decided he’d been in the fountain long enough. He probably needed lunch. Perhaps it was nap time. Maybe she needed to go to work.

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What Did You Say?

Wife:          “I said, the test came out positive.”

Husband:  “Positive?”

Wife:          “The home pregnancy test I got at the grocery store.”

Husband:  “What?”

Wife:           “I told you about it.”

Husband:   “If you did, I wasn’t paying attention.”

Wife:           “We’re going to have a baby!”

Husband:   “Oh my!”

Wife:           “Aren’t you happy about it?”

Husband:   “Yeah . . . Sure . . . I mean . . .”

Wife:            “What’s the matter?”

Husband:   “Are we ready for this?”

Wife:           “I think so.”

Husband:   “Can we afford a baby?”

Wife:            “No.”

Husband:    “I don’t even know how to take care of a baby.”

Wife:             “I do. And you’ll learn.”

Husband:     “I don’t feel grown up enough to be a parent.”

Wife:             “We’ll grow into the roles of Mommy and Daddy.”

Husband:     “Are you sure you’re pregnant?”

Wife:             “Take a look for yourself.”

Husband:     “Oh my!”

Baby Boy

Eight months later, our son was born. I’d never changed a diaper. Never had a crying baby wake me up in the middle of the night. Never imagined my wife saying, “It’s your turn to feed him.” Never fathomed the immensity of the changes about to take place.

Life as we knew it was over. Sleeping through the night? Never again! Date night? Uh-uh, no babysitter. Watch a TV show all the way through, uninterrupted? Fat chance!

My wife did most of the childcare duties. But there were times I was in charge. Well, that’s overly optimistic. No father is ever “in charge” of a baby. It’s a matter of survival – for both of us. “OK, kiddo. Let’s watch the football game.” Three hours later Mommy comes home and finds a crying baby who hasn’t been fed or changed and me glued to the TV set. Well, let’s just say it wasn’t a fun conversation.

We had a family reunion, and all the ladies went out to lunch together, leaving the men and children behind. My son had the nerve to poop his diaper. When I asked my older, wiser, more experienced brother-in-law (who I thought was my friend) if he’d change my son’s diaper, he laughed at me. “The kid is yours; you change the diaper.”

I thought I was going to throw up. And my wife does this every day? Yep, she does.

Crying Baby

Several months later, our son was screaming in the middle of a sleepless night. I remember praying that God would heal him and deliver him from teething. It was a genuine test of my theological position on faith, prayer, and whether God still does miracles.

“Lord, I know you answer prayer. I know you can heal. Says so right there in the Bible? Heal that kid’s gums right now in the name of Jesus!”

It didn’t work.

So we took him to the pediatrician. The doctor told us to use whiskey. Seriously, that’s what he said. “Use a little whiskey, and he won’t feel the pain.”

Now, I’d seen a few westerns where the doc gives the guy a bottle of whiskey, and after the patient is drunk, the doc does the operation, amputates the leg, or removes the bullet. I actually thought our pediatrician was suggesting that we put a little whiskey in the baby bottle, getting the kid slightly drunk, so he won’t feel a thing.

“I’m not giving my son whiskey, no sirree!”

“Silly man,” my wife said. “The doctor meant rub it on his gums.”

“How was I supposed to know that?”

Puzzle

We went to the drug store and loaded up on Oragel, Liquid Tylenol, and Teething Biscuits. My wife was very careful about how much painkiller to give our son, and for some reason, she’d get mad at me for giving him too much. “What do you mean, I give him too much. If a little bit is good for him, then doubling or tripling the dose is even better. What’s wrong with that?” She forbade me from ever giving the baby his medicine.

We went to a parenting seminar, where the psychologist said, “Being parents of babies and toddlers is the most difficult time in your life. You feel like you’re going crazy. You have no adult conversation and no friends. You’re not getting any sleep. Hang in there, because the baby will grow up and you’ll have a life again.” Those were the most encouraging words we ever heard.

Our son was growing up. He started walking. Then talking. But he had a problem stuttering. A friend of mine who was a counselor, suggested that we slow down our own speech. “Your son might be trying to talk as fast as you guys, and he just can’t do it. Slow down when you talk and see if it helps.” So we tried it, and within a week, his stuttering stopped.

Lego Surprise

I came home from work one day, and my wife had a funny look on her face as she muttered.

“What did you say?”

“I said the test came out positive.”

“Oh my!”