I imagine there are two groups of people who use the word “bite” on a regular basis: 1) Vampires. 2) My family.
We’re not vampires, if you’re wondering. (Or are we?) But bites are as essential to our daily lives as breathing these days. You might remember that Josh recently finished a feeding program at the Marcus Autism Center – the main purpose was to make him fatter, taller, and more inclined to eat food. We learned a ton about Josh and the way he chews, swallows, and smiles after misbehaving during this eight-week program at Marcus.
But, as the youths say, the party didn’t stop there. After graduating the program, Josh could only continue to succeed and gain weight if we kept up the program at home. I think most people know that we do this. And since sharing is caring, I thought you might be interested to know what exactly that means for our daily lives. If you’re not interested, here’s a picture of a cat with a mustache:
Happy birthday, big boy! Four is a legit big boy age. I know you’re about 78 on the inside, but four seems pretty old, too!
This year has been huge for you, dude. You have accomplished so much. You can walk on your tippy toes now, and you are rocking the scissor crafts! Bumpy slides, climbing stairs, and riding the therapy peanut have been no match for you as you master them all!
Of course, I think we can all agree that one of the biggest skills you’ve developed is your speech. Joshua, I love you. And you are the chattiest person I know. You ask me what we’re doing, where we’re going, who we’ll see when we get there, and if I remember how much fun we had the last time we were there. I might not remember, but you do. You remember everything. You call a doorbell a “dingbell” and you have a little lisp, so when you say things like “Thanksgiving,” it sounds more like “Skanksgiving.” You’ll probably grow up thinking Thanksgiving is a holiday to celebrate giggling since I laugh every time you say it.
I love to hear the stories you make up. They usually involve Marshall from Paw Patrol and Batman or Captain America, always fighting bad guys. And they always win. You like to tell me which Bible stories you like the best, and even though you still insist Jesus will return to Earth on a rocket ship, I love to hear what you’ve learned about the Bible.
Josh, I just love to see your personality develop. You like to be silly but you do not stand for shenanigans. You like The Rules and you make sure everyone is aware of them. We all know that you’re pretty much raising Jenna at this point, and I do appreciate it. You remember every detail of every conversation we have, and you love to answer questions!
There is a possibility that you’re a tad stubborn, too. In fact, I think you get more stubborn every year. But you know, Joshua, for every moment I am frustrated with you digging your heels in, there is also a moment of admiration for you and the way you fight. You’ve been a fighter from literally the first seconds of your life. You had to be. And while we can butt heads sometimes, I would never change that about you. It’s made you who you are. It’s what kept you with us four years ago.
I know some things are more of a struggle for you. I’m sorry, because I know it isn’t fair. But you don’t let anything get you down. You don’t worry about what other people think of you. You just go out there and do your thing and if someone wants to follow, they can. And they do. Your smile is ridiculously contagious. Sometimes I know you’re up to no good and then you look over and grin at me, and I have to smile back.
Remember when you broke your arm? We didn’t even know it was broken for two weeks. Because you’re half human, half superhero. And you rocked that neon green cast.
Joshua, I want you to know how much I love you. And how much I admire you. You have accomplished more in your four years than some grown people ever will. You’ve had to work harder for every little victory, and you’ve had to struggle over the small things. Part of me is sad about that. But part of me know that it has shaped you into an incredible person who never stops trying. Your work ethic is better than mine, kid. And you have compassion for so many people in different situations. You’ve learned about different disabilities and struggles, and it’s made your heart even bigger. You love to love people.
Happy, happy, happy, happy birthday to my big little man, who always has a smile and a reminder about using our indoor voices. I hope this next year is just as great.
Once upon a time, there was a woman who lived in the merry lands of Georgia. She had a lovely life, with a husband who loved her, and whom she loved, and two children whom she only rarely considered selling on eBay. She spent her days raising these children, and providing mediocre meals for her husband, and writing on a giant whiteboard calendar that she made herself in spite of her inability to craft. And it was a good life.
But the woman wanted to do just one thing more: She wanted to be healthy. Not, like, to run a marathon, because that sounded terrible. More like healthy enough to live a long life and set a good example for her children.
The woman tried lots of different ways to make this work. She took advice from trusted friends, and tried various programs that had been proven to work. And sometimes they did. The woman would always start out strong, and she would slowly become healthier. But life, as it so often does, would get in the way, and the woman would have to miss a weigh-in or stop by a drive-through. When that happened, the woman felt like she had failed. And if she had already failed, what was the point of continuing?
When she failed, the woman was ashamed. She was angry at herself for not working harder to stick to a plan that she had promised to finish. She was sad that she had disappointed herself and others, especially her husband and kids. She was embarrassed that she had let herself become so unhealthy to begin with, regardless of the reasons. She did not want to tell her friends and family that she was trying to be healthier, because she did not want them to watch her struggle and fail.
One day – probably a Tuesday – the woman found herself sitting on her couch at home. She had spent so much time researching the best ways to be healthy, and joined all the right groups on the Facebook, and became a gym member, and yet, she was no healthier than before. She was a few pounds lighter, but she knew she had such a long way to go. And as she sat on her couch, she wondered where it all went wrong. Why wasn’t she motivated to do anything to become and stay healthy?
That was really the heart of her issue: She wasn’t motivated. Because she didn’t believe anything would work. Life, though still a blessing, had beaten down the woman’s spirit over the last few years. She wanted to be strong and joyful, but it was just too hard when something went wrong. She had taken the hopefulness and positivity that was once part of her and slowly put it away. Oh, she could get to it when she wanted to, but she found those instances were fewer and farther between. And the more she put away, the less she wanted to find it again. And so it went.
As the woman sat on her couch, lamenting the woes of her life, she found a picture of herself from long ago. Well, it was really only about six years ago, but the woman was going for a dramatic effect in her story. The picture showed a man and woman on their wedding day. They were, of course, dressed up; he looking so handsome, and she so beautiful. But it wasn’t their clothes or their weight or her makeup or the lighting that made them look this way.
It was their absolute joy.
And as the woman looked at the photo some more, she wondered if, maybe, she could have that joy again. She knew it wouldn’t just come back right away. But if she believed it would return, it would.
That was the key to her struggles the whole time. Every weight-loss program, every announcement of giving up sugar, every promise to make it to the gym four times a week – she had never believed she could do any of it. And after she tired of going through the motions, she stopped.
So the woman made a decision. She decided to believe that she could become healthier. Not to fit into a certain size or wear a special outfit, but to prove to herself that she could. And to prove to her own daughter that she could. And to finally feel the joy that she had contained for years.
The woman knew that, ultimately, no number on a scale would bring her the joy she sought. She knew that her ultimate identity was found in Jesus, and from there she was so much more than a certain weight or measurement. But she also knew that this was the right step to take, both for herself, and for her children. And she believed she could take it. No special classes or outrageous goals or shame if she stumbled. Just belief that she could take the first step. And then the next. And then the next. And then the rest.
Hollaback if you love Target. I know you do. Don’t be ashamed. I love Target so much that my kids ask if we’re going there on a regular basis. Target and “Cheekin Feel A” are our two favorite ways to spend an afternoon in this family. Except for Daniel, who insists on going to work and providing for us. Whatever.
So last week, Jenna and I went on our daily weekly pilgrimage to Target. Since she is a “beeg guhl” now, she will no longer deign to ride inside the cart (You guys know how I feel about the Target carts anyway). Which is mostly…fine. I mean, I used to go through Target without running after a tiny giggling maniac while simultaneously dragging a loaded-down cart behind me, but I didn’t get nearly as many steps in, so it all works out.
My little helper wanted me to put everything in the bottom section of the cart, so she could add it by herself. I didn’t want to be a dream-crusher, so I said she could do that, and when she wasn’t looking, I put the items up in the main cart so I wouldn’t forget any.
If this was a musical, the soundtrack right now would be full of ominous tones.
I had to get an item from just about every section (except for the toy aisles, which I avoided like the flipping plague), and Jenna trotted faithfully behind me, occasionally playing a hilarious game where she hid from me and my heart stopped and then we all laughed and laughed. Finally, we were ready to check out.
I paid for my items, and Jenna asked to get into the cart, so we were all set to go out the door when a customer service person stopped me.
“Are there any other items I can help you purchase today?”
If you have ever worked retail, you know this line. You know it by heart. It’s the line drilled into you as the proper response if you see someone stealing from a store. There are a lot of rules about what you can and can’t say to a terrible merchandise stealer, even though they are a MERCHANDISE STEALER, and that is a standard party line. “Are there any other items I can help you purchase today?” actually means “I know that you know that I know you’re stealing, and you’re a jerk face for doing it, and I hope your stolen items all break.”
So when the customer service rep said this to me, I knew what she really wanted. She wanted me to ‘fess up about my thievery. But I had literally just paid for my items. What could the issue be?
The rep looked down at my cart. Past my bags, past my toddler, and down into – you guessed it – the lower part of the cart. On this section were the following items: Three (3) bottles of craft paint, one (1) pack of stickers, two (2) containers of peach-flavored yogurt, and one (1) boot. Yes, the one boot confused me the most, too.
Apparently I hadn’t been as diligent about watching my little shopper as I thought I had.
“Oh! I’m so sorry. My daughter was putting stuff in the cart and…” I trailed off as I realized I was blaming a two-year-old – who was currently sitting in the cart and therefore could not have possibly been grabbing things from the shelves – for what looked like outright theft.
Slowly, shamefully, I put each stolen item on the customer service shelf. I offered to put them all back, but the rep declined. Can’t say I blame her. Then Jenna waved goodbye to everyone, smiling and blowing kisses, earning more and more sympathy as she was carted away by her criminal mother.
We got into the car. I put her in the seat. “Jenna, we don’t take things from the shelves, okay? Mommy always has to pay for it at the front.”
Jenna smiled. “Okay, Mommy.” And then she laughed. And laughed. And laughed.
It’s now been four days since my last Target run. If you see me there with a fake mustache on, just keep walking. And stop Jenna before she gets to the parking lot.