Wednesday, January 9, 2008

To make a child...

Me and my most loyal friend.
My sweet Owen asked me yesterday, "Why does Ella have no mouth?" No mouth? I remembered him saying something to this effect in the past few weeks, but I didn't understand. "Ella have no mouth. Eat baba in feeding tube." My initial response was to laugh: How funny to think she has no mouth! I realized what an abnormal situation we have and how most kids don't grow up wondering if their siblings have mouths. "Owen, Ella DOES have a mouth. But, when she was a baby she wasn't strong enough to eat like you, so we had to get her a tube so she could get big and strong. Then we went to the doctor and she got a g-tube put into her belly."

"I remember that."
"Remember what," I asked.
"I remember when Ella got a g-tube in her belly. Go to hospital. Ella get ouchy."

Oh, how I started to cry when I saw how sad he was. I didn't want him to know that she was in pain or that we were/are in pain. I wanted him to think that everything was OK and normal and that this is how everyone's life is. I wanted him to not be sad. I worry so much about how they will feel as they are older. Will Owen feel weird in school because his childhood is so different? Will Ella ever tell anyone that at one point there was a whole in her mouth so big that she could push food right out of her nose? Will the kids laugh? Will she be too strange to be their friend? Will they love the people that no one else will? Will they see past the skin and see into the heart? Will they have eyes that look like Jesus?

When I was younger, I remember feeling such a pull to the people who needed love and who were different, but wanted so desperately to be accepted and popular. Oh, how I've wasted so much of my life trying to be both. I couldn't be both.

Owen got a Veggie Tales video for Christmas. Bob & Larry read answered a question from a little girl that said "I want to be friends with someone and know God wants me to be friends with them to, but they are different from me and I know I will lose my friends if I am friends with them. What should I do?" They told the girl, who is way ahead of her time, that if she trusted God that she should make the new friend and God would bring her new friends (that would of course be better) than the old friends. God would be happy. She would be happier, too.

As a parent, I am torn between making my kid feel comfortable and loved at school, as opposed to having a harder time in school because they don't want to conform. But, none of those people I tried to impress stood up next to me at my wedding, or at Ella's bedside as we tried to figure out what to do. None of those people said they would pray diligently for my Grandma when we found out she was sick. And so, I guess I know what I pray for. I pray for children who love Jesus more than popularity. I pray for children who see hurting hearts. I pray for children who see beauty in the differences they come across. I pray for children who trust that God will take care of them as they take care of others. I pray for children who have as good of friends as I do.