Thursday, December 12, 2013

Yes, I know this is too long...

       I'm tired; aren't we all?
       I mean, maybe Santa Claus should bring us all a month's vacation with pay so that we can get our regular responsibilities taken care of as well as get all our Christmas enjoyment stuff taken care of.    (Okay, I can check one party off my list, now to get to the store before the sale goes off, and then to the school to see Johnnie's play and, let's see... that only leaves 40 more things that I have to enjoy and do in the Spirit of Christmas before I can collapse on Dec. 26)
     You know, as I re-read that last paragraph, I'm thinking maybe Santa should bring us a voucher for a month long vacation AND a 30 day supply of prozac...
      And if you think you know where this blog entry is going - maybe you do but it's possible that you don't.  (Because it's more than possible that I don't... /=)
      This is the deal - this morning I woke up feeling like Mr. Cold was sitting on my head, causing half my brain cells to misfire and also causing my body to create its own chorus of sniffles, sneezes, and the occasional half-hearted cough.  I lay there thinking dark thoughts about how I was tired from tossing and turning and how  I was too wide awake to go back to  sleep for just  another thirty minutes.
     I was wrong. The next thing I knew, it was 9:40 and home school starts at 8:30.  OOPS!!!   I dressed in 10 min. flat while thoughts, not sweet candy cane ones, walloped through my head.  Like the Rabbit, I was late.  How late, I had no real clue but I would learn...
    Then I realized I had no keys. I couldn't find them anywhere. I hunted for another 15 minutes and finally, in desperation prayed.  God must love... well, people like me. Because I found my keys and drove as fast as I could to my niece's house which is just down the road from us.
   She told me a friend was staying with her temporarily and explained some of the issues that had forced this young person from her home. The fault clearly was the parent's - a mega drinking problem.  It's hard to reason with a mom who has tied one on at 3 in the morning.  So the girl had been sleeping in her vehicle after getting off work in the evenings.
   Today was our noontime small group Bible study and before she went to bed last night, this girl indicated that she wanted to come to our study.  We thought it would be best if she just slept through it because she was so tired but she didn't - she woke up on her own and came downstairs for the study.
   When she walked into the kitchen, I recognized her face but  couldn't quite place her.   As it turned out, I didn't have to.    She smiled and said, "I know you!" I admitted that I felt sure I knew her also but was clueless as to where.
   Her next words floored me as I came to realize that she was the little girl who used to ride her bike up and down the street, the one who was always bright and sweet, the one whom I sometimes avoided because she wanted to converse while I - I was on a mission to lose weight and build up cardiovascular strength. (Obviously that didn't last...)
   Besides that, I often came home from school all "talked out".  Dealing with 70 teenagers throughout the day does that to you.  Walking around the block was "Me Time" - the time when I cleared my mind of the day's clutter and mentally transitioned from work to home.
   And even more to the point, the girl's mom was a pain.    While the girl herself was sweet and mostly just wanted someone to watch her ride her bike down the street and back or listen about her day at school (she loved school), the mom always delivered whiny, repetitive self-serving monologues that could go non-stop for an hour at a time.  Not kidding. Once she flagged me down when I was slowly driving down our residential street and I stopped, thinking it was something serious. It wasn't. After 45 minutes of politely trying to excuse myself, I finally just interrupted her and said, "I'm sorry. I have to go" and I did, driving off while the mom was in mid-sentence. Politeness is huge with me and to my knowledge I've never ever done anything like that with anyone else before or since.  And the mom, essentially came with the girl and therein was the problem.
    So there were many times when I planned my walks when I was pretty sure the little girl would not be outside on her bicycle.
    And now, years later, that same little girl was standing in my niece's kitchen, all grown up, saying, "I know you! When I was a little girl, you used to walk around the block and sometimes you talked to me."
   Double ow.
   We ate lunch and she listened intently throughout our Bible study, saying very little but seriously involved in the lesson itself judging by the expression on her face. At the end, she asked me, "Did you know my mom is an alcoholic?"
    She wasn't accusing in any way but I, however, was definitely guilty as  I stumbled  through my answer.
    "Um, well, she was never under the influence when I talked to her but a neighbor had told me that your mom was prone to call her..."
    "In the middle of the night, right?  And she was drunk? That's what my mom does. She gets drunk and calls people at about 3 in the morning.   But it's gotten much worse lately and she threw me out of the house at 3 a.m. the other night along with all my things, which she tossed into the yard.  Now  I have to go pick her up  and take her somewhere and I'm not sure what she's going to be like.  I don't know if she'll be drunk, angry, or what but I'm the only one who can take her to her appointment and I told her I would take her so that's where I'm headed.  But I just don't know what I'm going to face."
     So we gathered around the little-girl-all-grown-up-now, the one I used to avoid, and we prayed. For her. For her mom.  For the stressful event looming large - just a simple pick-up-the-parent-and-take-them-to-the-garage-to-get-the-car event which was now fraught with unpleasant if not downright dangerous possibilities.  Yet it was a duty the girl herself would not avoid.
     As I probably would have done had it been me.
     As I often did so many years ago, when there was no danger involved, just time. And a giving up of "my to-do list" in order to give a few minutes to a pleasant child with a burdensome mother.
     And I wonder  how many times and in how many ways she has suffered over the past decade simply because of association and nothing more.  Oh, she's so-and-so's child...
     And now I'm thinking: what if I had moved toward that child instead of away from her years ago when I had the chance? What if I had become involved in her life back when?  What if, when I heard rumors about the mom's drinking, I had taken the time to get to know the family and maybe even seek help for the girl if nothing else.
     What if?
      And  yes, I don't feel 100% today physically and I am tired.
     But mostly, right now  I'm sick and  tired of missing the boat.
     And I'm wondering, should I pare my list of 20 "fun" holiday "can't miss" things to do and the additional 20 (or more) un-fun but necessary holiday things on that same list... Should I pare that list down to 10 instead of 40 items? And then dare I add one more thing to my new, less-sparkly-bright Christmas gotta do list?
    Should # 11 on my downsized list be:  go find that neighborhood child who just wants someone to listen to them chat for a few minutes and watch them ride their bike.. And then when I find them,  could I actually listen to them for a bit?  Several times a week?  And maybe even watch them ride their bike and say, "Good job!" once in a while? And then maybe could I try to find out why a nice kid like that is so hungry for adult attention?
   We talk about finding Christmas in the face of a child.
   Honestly, many years ago I had the chance to do that.
   And I blew it. Multiple times over.  I'm not kidding and I'm not exaggerating.
   And now I would give anything for a do-over.
   Just saying: today I had a wake up call. And it was long overdue.

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