Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Family Demotions

Every now and then you read in Christian magazines or books about the importance of family devotions. These articles usually create an idealized image of angelic looking children seated around the family table, listening reverently as Dad reads a lengthy passage from the Bible and makes profound commentary on the significance of the passage.

Here is the reality in our household: Allison reads the children's Bible aloud after supper. She stumbles over the words "plague of flies" and it comes out "plague of fries." Jonathan is resting his head on his arm, making loud farting noises against his fat forearm, or dropping half-eaten bits of red pepper off the edge of the table. Later, Allison (influenced by her extensive reading of the collected works of Beverly Cleary) might be singing "What a Friend We Have in Beezus" or "Beezus Loves the Little Children".

All I can say is: if God doesn't have a sense of humour, we are in serious trouble and can expect the plague of fries to descend at any moment.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Don't Laugh At Me"

Yesterday Allison's school put on a tea for parents/grandparents who had volunteered throughout the year. Each class entertained the crowd with a few songs and skits. I knew Allison's class was going to perform a song but she wouldn't tell me ahead of time what it was; she wanted it to be a surprise. Here is the song they sang:

Don't Laugh at Me

I'm the little boy with glasses, the one they call the "geek"
The little girl who never smiles 'cause I've got braces on my teeth
And I know how it feels to cry myself to sleep

I'm that kid on every playground who's always chosen last
A single teenage mother trying to overcome my past
You don't have to be my friend, but is it too much to ask

Don't laugh at me
Don't call me names
Don't get your pleasure from my pain
In God's eyes we're all the same
Someday we'll all have perfect wings
Don't laugh at me

I'm the cripple on the corner; you've passed me on the street
And I wouldn't be out here begging if I had enough to eat
And don't think I don't notice that our eyes never meet

I lost my wife and little boy when someone crossed that yellow line
The day we laid them in the ground is the day I lost my mind
And right now I'm down to holding this little cardboard sign, so

Don't laugh at me
Don't call me names
Don't get your pleasure from my pain
In God's eyes we're all the same
Someday we'll all have perfect wings
Don't laugh at me.

I'm fat, I'm thin, I'm short, I'm tall,
I'm deaf, I'm blind, hey aren't we all

Don't laugh at me
Don't call me names
Don't get your pleasure from my pain
In God's eyes we're all the same
Someday we'll all have perfect wings
Don't laugh at me.

What a touching message! As the kids sang along with the CD, Allison's face was shining and she was totally focused. At home afterward I said, "I liked that song you sang" and she smiled and said, "I like it too."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Nursery school concert

On Tuesday night Jonathan's nursery school had its spring concert. Jonathan's class (the afternoon group) performed a skit based on the Robert Munsch book Murmel Murmel Murmel. Jonathan and his friend Greg were pizza delivery men, and when the time came, Jonathan stated his line--"PIZZA!"--loudly and authoritatively. Then his class sang "This Little Light of Mine". The whole evening consisted of subdued mayhem, with dozens of proud parents toting cameras and camcorders. Once again we were amazed at the patience of Laurie and Janet, who calmly guided 28 under-five-year-olds through two skits and three songs.

Jonathan's first school experience has been a good one, and he will miss his teachers and his Tuesday/Thursday routine this summer.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Yesterday was Rich's and my 17th anniversary. At the risk of stating a cliche, 17 years seems like a long time, but on the other hand it has passed so quickly. A few years ago our celebration might have consisted of a fancy dinner out. Now it involves pizza and a movie after the kids have gone to bed--and that's just fine!

I sometimes imagine what it would have been like if, on our wedding day, the minister had stood up and said, "Here's what you can expect down the road. You will wait many difficult years before having children, but you will rejoice when your daughter arrives and brings so much joy into your life. Then you will have a son, who will have a seizure when he is ten months old. Y ou will spend the next few years going to appointments for him and realizing that he is developmentally delayed. You will find out that your daughter also has a developmental disorder." etc. etc. Thankfully, we aren't given this information ahead of time, and it's a good thing. My friend Franceen recently reminded me of Corrie ten Boom's story of her father, who assured her that God would give her the strength she needed to face whatever came--but He would only give it at the moment it was needed, just as the young Corrie would only be given her train ticket moments before she got on the train.

Well, after 17 years I can say it has been a good trip so far. It is good to celebrate together and to face difficulties together. It is good to cheer each other on, to laugh together at the same silly things, and to look forward to the next stage of the journey.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Today's transition meeting

Today we went to Jonathan's new school for a transition meeting, to discuss his needs for September. A large group of people were present: the principal, the kindergarten teacher, the special ed representative for the entire school board, the school's part-time special ed person, a representative who knows Jonathan from the child development centre at the hospital, a representative from a local agency that assists people with special needs, and Rich and me.

It was a very enjoyable and positive meeting. The school board rep asked us all kinds of questions about Jonathan's skills, strengths, weaknesses, and challenges, all for the purpose of determining what kind of extra help and services he might need when he starts school. For instance, an occupational therapist may come in to the classroom to help him with things like cutting, pasting, and pencil-holding, and a speech-language pathologist may come in to help him with language skills. The kindergarten class may also be assigned an Educational Assistant to provide extra help to any children in the class who need a bit more support. We also discussed the possibility of Jonathan attending school for half-days only, at least to start, something we can decide in September.

We left the meeting feeling very encouraged and supported by the school and the school board. Everyone in the room seemed enthusiastic about having Jonathan attend that school, and the principal emphasized that the main priority was to give him the best possible start in school.

So this fall will be a whole new set of experiences for our family. Allison will enter grade 4 at the Catholic School where she has gone since her kindergarten days, and Jonathan will go to kindergarten at the public school just two blocks from there. And since Allison's current school only goes up to grade 5, it's entirely possible that in two years she will be joining Jonathan at his school. We have also decided to send Jonathan back to his nursery school this fall; he will go there 2 afternoons a week (as he did this year) and attend kindergarten on the other days.

It is good to see how everything is falling into place. We feel well taken care of!

Friday, June 01, 2007

So many books, so little time

Actually, that is not true: there is always enough time to read! Here are some books I've been reading lately:

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. This beautifully illustrated short novel tells the story of a self-centred china rabbit who is separated from his doting owner and learns a great deal about himself, life, and love from those he meets on his journey.

The Glass Castle , a memoir by Jeannette Walls, a New York journalist. This is a fascinating, at times almost unbelievable, true story. Walls tells about how she and her three siblings grew up with a brilliant alcoholic father and a free-spirited, irresponsible mother, and how they lived in poor, squalid conditions all over the U.S. until the children were each able to "escape" to New York and create new lives ... but can you ever really escape your past?

Ordinary Grace by Kathleen Brehony. Brehony examines why people do good things for others. She explores numerous examples of ordinary people who do things like work in soup kitchens, visit seniors, donate organs, teach troubled youth, and many other selfless acts that make life better for a few, or for many.

Prayer by Phillip Yancey. I just got this one, but it looks like it will be as interesting and mind-stretching as all of Yancey's other books.

Rich and I have also watched a couple of interesting movies (actually, there are some broad similarities between these two):

Ladies in Lavender (with Maggie Smith and Judi Dench). This movie shows how two spinster sisters are affected when they find an injured young man on the beach near their home. The plot has some loose ends, but the portrayal of the two women is really touching.

Second-Hand Lions (with Robert Duvall and Michael Caine). A young boy comes to spend the summer on a farm with his two eccentric great-uncles and gets caught up in the mystery of their fascinating past. Are the stories true? Or does that even matter? A delightful, surprising final scene makes for a satisfying conclusion. (Thanks for the recommendation, Brenda!)