We had a truly wonderful weekend. Little Man was blessed to have his great-grandparents, Nana, Papa, and Aunt Carrie here to celebrate his birthday. We even got to see Sean through the magic of Skype. There were a lot of smiles, much laughing, and some happy tears. It was a really great way to make some memories. It was also a great way to make me think about how things have changed; how I've changed, how Sweet Girl and Little Man have changed, how our lives have changed ultimately, and what made the difference in between then and now.
Little Man is cruising. He is breaking hearts right and left and he isn't sorry about that. He started out (relatively) tiny and has grown into a hamburger-eating, big-smile-flashing, belly laughing toddler. I'm loving watching him grow and explore. Um, well not necessarily loving the exploring of the dog's bowls but you get the picture. I often joke with Nana that she is welcome to take him home with her. And I think she would if she thought I really needed the break, but to be honest I'm really just joking because he is funny. He chases Oreo like they're longtime battle buddies which I'm pretty sure is giving Oreo PTSD. It's fabulous. For Little Man, time, nourishment, and love have made the difference between being a helpless infant and an actual small person.
Sweet Girl is opening up. She and I actually have been battle buddies for awhile, so our bond was already pretty secure. But this past weekend she sat on Aunt Carrie's lap, and when Aunt Carrie told Sweet Girl she had missed her Sweet Girl busted out "I missed you too, Carrie." I was across the room and very close to crying. Sweet Girl has loved her family but has never been able/comfortable enough to express that. I know her aunts, uncle, grandparents and great-grandparents understand that, but I also know they're (almost) as happy as I am that she is starting to express her feelings now. She cuddled right up to her great-grandparents on the couch and was a general nuisance to Papa as she constantly demanded tickles, "jumps" and taught him how to really play Angry Birds on his iPad.
Then, she told her dad that she missed him when she saw him on Skype. I was right next to her and couldn't stop myself from crying. It's possible that she was scripting from a tv show. It's also quite possible I couldn't care less. She understood what was being discussed and provided an appropriate emotional response. That's big progress. Sweet Girl's been walking around the house the past couple of days saying "Nana and Papa go home." She misses them (probably because her mother is terribly mean but that's neither here nor there). I would be sad about that if her awareness and expression of feelings didn't make me so happy. For Sweet Girl, a diet, some supplements, pre-school, a change in geography, and a lot of hard work on her part have made the difference between an anxiety-riddled toddler and an emergent social creature.
So we had a great weekend and while I was thinking of all of this, my mind kept thinking of some children in Sweet Girl's old school class. Mrs. Sara had told me about their field trip and how these kids had seemed to have a big appetite. She told me some other things (nothing that would get her in trouble with privacy or about their educational roadblocks - I don't even know their names and couldn't pick them out of a line-up which I pray I never have to do) which led me to believe these kids don't go home to much in the way of nourishment. My bleeding heart began to bleed a little harder and the former educator in me mentally reviewed Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs approximately a million times. The basic premise is that to reach the highest actualization (problem-solving etc.) one first has to fulfil certain needs. Physiological needs, like food, water and sleep, are at the very bottom and until those needs are met it will be very difficult to move up the hierarchy. Which makes sense to me; it's difficult to concentrate on ancient Rome - or even pre-school centers -when you're worried about whether or not you'll get to eat that day.
Sooooo....these children who already have a couple of strikes against them are working with another strike as well. I decided that I'd start a little project for myself. I'd donate bags of easy to make/eat food so the kids would have something to eat over the weekends. While school is in session their breakfast and lunch are taken care of, but judging by the amount they eat at school, they're not getting much at home. Maybe they don't get much because their parents don't care, or are lazy, or use their money on things they shouldn't. I don't care. I haven't always done the right thing and it has taken the help of others to help me even know what the right thing is at times. Who knows where I'd be if I didn't have a great family and friends to help me? Those kids didn't ask, or do anything, to be in that situation. Maybe the parents won't be grateful for the donation. I don't care. How many times have I overlooked the color purple and not thanked God? And he still sends me way more than I can measure or deserve. A couple of different decisions could be the difference between their situations and mine.
I'm not telling you this because I want a million pats on the back in the comments (though I'd love a million comments!). I'm telling you this because I set out on this project as my Lent devotion, but I'm hoping that I can do it through the end of school. Maybe I can even do something similar next school year. And Oprah says we have to talk about our goals so we make them happen. And according to my extensive research, Oprah is seldom wrong. I'm hoping that this is the difference between saying I believe in good works and being a part of good works. It's easy to sit in a church pew during Lent and feel good about yourself but sometimes it feels even better to make a difference.