We've talked a lot on here about the boys and their needs, and also about how Christy and I feel about and are impacted by their needs. Today I want to focus on the impact that the boys have on the other members of the family and the impact that others have on the boys and us. Don't worry if you didn't get all of those prepositions - just keep reading and all will be revealed.
And speaking of Papa and Meemaw. Both sets of grandparents as well as Jo and Jay's greatgrandma Sara have had to grapple with how best to grandparent our special needs boys. Again, we have the cultural paradigm of grandma guiding grandbabies through the customs of the kitchen and grandpa spoiling the young'uns with coins and candy - that doesn't work for Josiah and Jalen. It takes rigorous OJT for grandparents to even feel comfortable left alone with our boys. In fact, once a person reaches a certain physical maturity, they simply cannot be trusted to care for a child that will neither heed your warnings nor detect danger on their own. You have to be willing and able to guard these guys like . . . I want to use a sports analogy here, but as most of you know, I'm incapable. You know how basketball players stick close to one another and jostle around over the ball but never get too far away so as not to let the other guy make a shot. Maybe that's another sport, but you get the idea. If you can't catch Jo before he gets to the road, then you can't watch Jo. And that's sad to me because I was shaped so much as a person by my grandparents and greatgrandparents. I think of my Pawpaw Herd who was spry into his eighties, but not nearly spry enough to catch Jalen when he's doing the turn and burn. Forget going to grandma's house for the summer unless you want grandma in assisted living by the fall. So they look for ways to help, and they find them in abundance. Maybe not the normal grandparenting, but nevertheless showing the love they have in tangible, and sometimes not so tangible ways. Its odd to miss something that you never had, but I miss that Jo didn't get to go fishing as a 5-year-old as I did with my Papa. I miss that Jay never got to play banker in the kitchen at 4-years-old as I did with my Grandma Mary. Jo and Jay love their grandparents, and they are unrestrainedly loved by them, but it's different for them than the others and that stings a little.
I could go on and on. I could tell at length what terrific aunts and uncles the boys have, and they do. And I'm sure it's just as befuddling to them how exactly they should relate to the boys. I could talk about people at church for a long while. They have opened not only their hearts but their buildings and grounds to the boys without reservation. They minister to us daily in ways that others might not notice, but that are vital to our peace and happiness. They pray for us and encourage us and fix us amazing dinners and let us run between their legs in the Welcome Center and all with alacrity and agape love. They don't know quite how to react to the boys, especially when Jo pounds the sofa cushions behind their head or grabs them by the beard. But that's okay. We can't leave Jo under anyone's care, so either me or Christy or Meemaw are always with him, but the brethren find other ways to help. Various ladies work with Jay on-on-one in his classroom, and the church bought a special swing for Jo and provided a room for him to have a very special Sunday School class in. They cheer us on when the boys are making strides, and they didn't fuss when Jo pulled the fire alarm that time. Didn't even say a word - just silenced the alarm and opened the fire doors back up. The boys are devilishly tough to take to church, but the church loves them and us.
Alright, I'm good and welled-up. The point of all this is the same as ever: special people are demanding people, and those who care for them need special grace, but God is so kind to us in all His ways through Jesus. Pray for us, and praise with us that He has been good to this family every single day, and we have confidence that we can trust Him to be steady on.