Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Little Extra Miracles of Every Day

Paul is four and a half. Words still mostly elude him.  He has good and bad days at school, so I get reports that he signed sandwich and cookie and said book and more and stop and days he dumped the shelf full of toys and pinned his best friend after chasing him into the boy's bathroom. 

Home is similarly conflicted.  There are days that begin with Paul taking out the skim milk and a sippy cup and lid to bring them to me while I'm getting dressed for the day because at 5:55 a.m, he's feeling a mite thirsty.  He's also taught his younger sister to climb up on the table with him and together bang out a clarion call for attention and more importantly, food.   We've discovered Paul putting three discs in the Wii.  He's also known  to try kick off his socks and shoes as soon as he sees the bus pull up.  In short, there is a gleam of mischief in those blue eyes.  He knows what he does and also knows how to use his disability to cloak his deliberate misbehavior.  Fortunately, his siblings have learned from his father and me, Down's syndrome is not an excuse.   It is not a get out of trouble free card.  If he dumps the book shelf, he gets to put it back together. If he scatters the muffin, he gets time out and no more muffin.  If he bites his sister, he gets removed from the room.  He howls like any four year old when justice is administered.  

But with those bad days, there are the momentary miracles, when we get to see Paul.  It has become his habit, after brushing his teeth for as long as we will tolerate (man does he love his One Direction playing electric toothbrush), to climb onto our bed and watch a bit of baseball with his dad.  Yesterday, his father was explaining where exactly his ankle hurt and what tendons needed to be rubbed.  Before I could move, Paul scooted down to his father's feet and began rubbing them.  It was a gift.  It was hard to do anything other than watch as a four year old son ministered to his 46 year old father's pain. It was a great moment of a little miracle, the kind we would not recognize if not for the silence he gives us most of the time.  His silence helped us see. 

Today, he did it again.  The kids were grousing about bringing up their laundry baskets.  Paul went over and picked one up and began the slow hard process of bringing one up the stairs.  Everyone watched as he moved the basket one step at a time.  It was very hard for anyone to argue afterwards about having to do the same chore.  "And a little child shall lead them..." I thought.   But his actions this morning like the other evening again revealed a listening mind and a willing heart. His body had to work to align itself with his will and his generous spirit, but that is the struggle we all have, getting that proper orientation of the will to the heart and the mind and the body to do good, to be obedient, to try for the benefit of another. 

There is a great temptation in the world to either ostracize/demonize children with disabilities --rendering them things to be discarded or destroyed or removed from society, or to sanctify them into heaven while here, to pretend they cannot sin, to make them cherubs or angels when they are what we are, humans, whose talents, like our talents, must be developed and discovered and encouraged, and whose flaws must be addressed and admonished and acknowledged.   Paul remains very human. He makes us more so.

Today he picked a dandelion, hugged his sister as if he hadn't seen her in years and came home to spend time coloring the table before I could get him paper.  He scares me by trying to run outside and out into the world and at the same time, his zeal for exploring is a reminder to me not to stay caged up at the computer.  He will compel me to play out on the grass kicking a soccer ball, to go examine the garden and to stomp in rain puddles and take walks.  Theoretically I do this for his sake, but I am made healthier and more human for it.   Likewise he will compel his siblings to work and to bring him out, and they will be made more whole in the process of introducing everything to him.

Paul's little extra does not limit his open heart or generous spirit, but his condition keeps the rest of us from placing an over emphasis on efficiency, by making us listen to the wonder of the world, of living at a slower pace than the world prescribes. 


Anonymous said...

Beautiful-send this out to the World. A Fan.

shelley colquitt said...

Ok I know I say I love you all the time, but this made my day.. Paul was exactly what the world needs more of. Jesus hears the songs of praise of Paul's perfectly made heart and soon the world will hear it as well

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