|Justus in his flag football gear.|
It was a hot summer day and we were at the Scappoose Football field to watch Justus play flag football. Our favorite thing to do on those days was enjoy a snow cone during the game. It was the perfect treat and would last the same length as the football game, which made it a fantastic option for Joy. Normally Joy would finish her snow cone and Matt would walk with her across the field to the van while I rounded up the other kids. Often she would protest, because she really wanted to stay and play flag football herself, but she would still walk with Matt to the van.
But on one Saturday afternoon she decided she wasn’t going to leave the field. We tried talking to her about how it was time to go home and eat lunch and the yummy food we were going to have. We tried turning it into a game of chase heading the direction toward the van. We tried singing songs. We tried the firm voice. It didn’t matter. She wanted to stay in the middle of the field and play. She didn’t want to go home. It was time for new games to start and Joy needed to leave the field. Matt went to pick her up and she immediately became limp and slid through his arms. Thankfully he is a tall and strong man. He lifted her up over his shoulder with ease and began to carry her off the field.
All the while he is speaking to her in a calm voice explaining over and over again, “You’re okay. It’s time to go home.” The kids and I follow them trekking across the high school field. Walking behind Matt and Joy gave me a front row view of all the people around us. The staring was impossible to miss. I can only imagine what people must have been thinking.
It was a big field and a large parking lot to walk across. Joy doesn’t have a very big vocabulary. She has some words and also uses an ipad to help her communicate. That day everyone around could hear her clearly say two words, “Help, please.” To add to the drama, I had purchased a red snow cone for her to eat that day. Let me see if I can paint this picture for you. She is slung over Matt’s shoulder saying the words, “Help please,” with red liquid oozing out of her mouth. It totally appeared as if Matt was kidnapping a bleeding child. It was quite the sight. I can completely understand why people were staring at us. To be honest I’m surprised no one approached us to ask what was going on. It looked just terrible. My best guess is Matt’s calm demeanor and body language communicated to the crowd everything was okay.
Today, we look back and laugh about the experience. We are so acutely aware of how it must have looked to those around us. Of all the days for me to choose a red snow cone instead of blue or purple. I can assure you, I never picked red again.
It’s a good reminder to keep pressing forward, even if everyone around is staring at you. Sometimes you just need to keep moving even if what you are doing does not make sense to anyone else. Matt knew Joy couldn’t stay in the middle of the field. If she did, she would get run over by 50 kids playing flag football. He also knew in that moment there wasn’t going to be a way to change her mind. He knew he needed to get her safely to the van. He made a decision that was best for her even though it looked bizarre to those around him. If you believe what you are doing is the best thing, then press on. Walk right past those staring people. It’s okay if they don’t understand. It’s okay if they question. It’s okay if they think you are crazy. Press on.
We are currently in the midst of some hard parenting days. And in all honesty I feel like the world is staring. In reality it’s not the whole world, but I have felt the sting of judgement many times in the last few days. Parenting is hard work, and parenting kids with special needs or trauma backgrounds is even more challenging. There are times Matt and I make difficult decisions because we believe it’s in the best interest of our children.
We don’t claim to know it all. I wish we did! We haven’t found the “How to Parent Perfectly Method That Works Like Magic for All Children,” book. I wish we had! If you have children, like me, I’m guessing you are in the same boat. You are trying your best every single day. Can I just encourage you? Keep moving forward, keep pressing on, keep being the best parent you know how to be for the kids in your home. And let the people stare.