I’ve been sitting on a hard wooden bench of late watching Eldest Son at basketball tryouts. The kid has hustle and makes a pretty decent point guard. He is the same kid who came screaming and colicky into the world on Thanksgiving Eve thirteen years ago and made us parents.
Henry screamed for the first four months of his life and rarely slept. Since he was our first, we naively thought all babies were nightmares like ours. As we shuffled around like zombies, we couldn’t figure out why anyone would have more than one child. Fools! We couldn’t even handle it—that everyone in the whole world started out life this way, shrieking and sleepless, turning their formerly charming parents into the vacant-eyed undead. People would scoff at our descriptions of our screamer, but after spending any amount of time in our house or our car with our infant, the same people would leave, shell-shocked and haggard.
And then he grew up.
I can’t figure out how it happened. How did the tiny splotchy screamer become this big, graceful boy who dribbles a ball and makes shots and laughs with his friends? He can do so many things. He intuitively picks things up and figures things out. He can play organized sports, follow directions, and wait his turn. He makes friends easily. He is easygoing, funny, and can just be cool.
Everything he does naturally seems miraculous to me because his brothers can’t do it.
At one point during the tryouts, a dad near me on the bleachers was lecturing his son on all the things he was doing wrong on the court. He rattled off a list of things his kid needed to be doing differently, while the kid himself looked rather close to tears. I know this dad was trying to help. The competition was stiff, with 50-ish boys vying for just a few spots on the team. If he were in my green suede booties, though, maybe he would see the miracle that is a big, healthy, smart, capable boy who has the guts and the ability to even try out for a team. Who cares if he makes it or not! The kid is amazing. Dude, just look at him.
It made me think back to when Jack was a toddler working with Early Intervention. My friend Mandi, whose son was in the same structured play group, told me about some parents at Costco who were bragging to their friends about how their young daughter was learning to sign.
“Sign ‘dog,'” they prompted her.
“Dog,” she enunciated perfectly.
“No, no, don’t say it. Sign it!” They pressed.
“Dog,” the little girl said.
Mandi shook her head as she pushed her giant shopping cart away, thinking how parents like us spent our days in classes and therapy and sensory activities, trying to get our kids to speak, sign, point—anything to communicate. And these clowns wanted their daughter to stop talking and show off her signing skills.
Oh my stars.
A little perspective makes the miracles stand out in bas-relief.