April 18, 2017

Twelve


Every twelve years, the Chinese zodiac animal comes back around.


Our firstborn son, Bright Eugene, was born in the year of the rooster. Guess what? It is the year of the rooster again. That means Gene is 12, and in China, that is very special. But 12 is an important number in other contexts, too. The tribes of Israel. The months of our calendar year. The optimal number of donuts.

And the last birthday a child has before becoming a teen.


Preteens are a crazy breed. They're a cuddly, prickly, weepy, laughing, silly, somber mess. No amount of Dr. Dobson or John Eldridge can fully prepare a parent for these transitional years. No longer a little boy, not quite a young man. Fuzz on the upper lip. Fuzzy stuffed animals still filling his bed. He's being tugged in both directions. And I feel like I'm being tugged in all directions, trying to help him through his ups and downs without going up and down with him. At the end of every day I hit the pillow completely exhausted, but happy, too, because it's going well. It really is.

And so it is with a full heart and a weary mind that I wish our Eugenious, our Gene Machine, a happy 12th birthday!

加油 Gene! Manhood, here he comes!


April 04, 2017

Right up there with Paul and the Good Shepherd

Zion reads The Word. Every night, past bedtime, but of course we allow it. Wouldn't you?

He tells us in the morning at the breakfast table all about what he read the night before. This morning he reported about Solomon's two sons, Rehoboam and Jeroboam, and what each son grew up to do.

Of course his seminary dork of a father beams at him, his face rolling back into that certain smile that only his children can coax forth. I butter the toast and send my thanks up with the steam. It is a good, good thing to see the soul of your child wrap itself around G0D like rope.

The other night - I just have to share - Zion said at bedtime, "The thing I'm most looking forward to about Heaven are the church services."

This remark brought sidelong glances from his siblings, who no doubt were thinking (as most kids would), 'We're looking forward to the unending screen time and sweets, but sure, you go ahead and long for those church services.'

Zion went on.

"I mean, can you imagine when it's Paul's turn to preach?!" He had a point there. "And do you think they'll let Jesus preach?"

"I'm sure they will," I said (my weak interjection into his inspired vision).

And then this:

[gasp] "OOH MAMA! Do you think they'll let Daddy preach?"


April 03, 2017

The forging of men

The day comes in the life of every boy, to break through the stack of boards with one's bare limbs. (Figuratively speaking of course, unless you're a Rupp boy, and then not so figuratively speaking)


The mother's heart, engorged with pride, races like the soundtrack to a Bollywood movie as she watches her boys. Watches them face those boards bravely, fists clenched, chin high.


Young lungs inhale, exhale. Playful mind draws focus.


This is what they've been training for.


And then, one by one, each boy takes his stand. Who will win, his foot bones or the boards? Which one will yield and snap along the grain, admitting defeat?


Cracccccck!


The boy wins.


Crack. Crack. Crack! The boards are punched and kicked until that whole stack has been reduced to kindling.



Toes redden and swell. Tears roll down determined cheeks (they're just kids, after all.) Some of the boards are stubborn, and the sound of flesh thudding hard against wood makes the mothers cringe. We remember that flesh when it was washed and weighed in the delivery room. We would have killed the fool who tried to hurt those little feet, those little hands.

But mothers know that our boys were meant to be men. And we know, too, that boys don't just wake up one morning and come to the breakfast table as men. Men are forged.

Forged, I tell you.

One board at a time.


April 01, 2017

Let him grow

Eugene will be 12 in ten days. There is sulphur soap beside the sink and deodorant in his sock drawer. There are new rules. I mustn't ask him about his feelings in front of his friends. He never wants my help, and if he does, he'll ask (he doesn't). When he isn't smiling it's because he's being cool not unhappy, and what he needs most is my respect.

And my hugs, of course. And my cooking. Always my cooking. A mother never loses that inroad with her sons.

The best advice I've gotten? Resist the urge to pull him up by the roots to check on how he's doing under the soil. Let him grow. Tend. Wait.

Pray.

But let him grow.