Saturday, December 27, 2014
To Remember on Christmas Day
A couple of days before Christmas, my oldest daughter Catherine, made up a game to play with her siblings. She put different tasks into a jar and pulled one out at a time for everyone to fulfill. Whoever was able to complete the task the quickest was the winner. One of the tasks was to make a New Year's resolution list, even though they were still waiting for Christmas. My eight year old Michael, and five year old Eliza, were most excited to play. Neither of them really understood what resolutions were. So, we explained resolutions were personal goals you made to help you be a better person in the new year. Michael was excited and started coming up with goals. Eliza needed a little help. As a mom, who really loves for her children to be self-sufficient, I came up with goals that were pretty selfish on my part. Some of these goals included: to stop sucking her thumb, to learn to read better, to bathe, dry off, and get dressed by herself without asking for mommy's help. This last goal mostly stemmed from the fact that this is something this five year old used to do all the time, but since starting Kindergarten, she has wanted me to do everything for her, especially tasks that she was perfectly capable of performing before school. A lot of kids go through some kind of separation anxiety when they go to school. They are repeatedly learning new things they are expected to do by themselves. My five year old has loved school and has had so much fun learning new things and then showing us what she can do. At the same time, she has become really clingy and has wanted me to do everything for her. If I were a better person, I would relish these opportunities to do whatever she asks of me. But instead, I have felt frustrated at her constant need for me to be right by her side to accomplish simple tasks. I have prayed for patience and a desire to enjoy helping her. I have asked to be more loving and kind when she wants extra attention. There have been times I have been patient and more kind, and there have been times I have felt very frustrated at her need for me to do everything. However, sometimes things happen that put everything into perspective. On Christmas Eve Eliza was riding bikes with Michael. We live in a new subdivision with a couple of empty lots. Unknown to me, one of the lots the kids like to play on, has become a dumping ground for some of the other home building sites. We did not know there was potentially dangerous material our children were playing with. We thought the lot was just a fun open field for them to run around on. When Eliza and Michael stopped to play on Christmas Eve afternoon, they found a hollow, metal copper, tube that was completely rusted. Michael bent it into two pieces so they each had a "stick" to play with. They were pounding their metal sticks into the ground to see how far they would sink. Eliza found a dumped pile of dried cement and tried to poke her stick through. While doing so the stick bounced or ricocheted off the cement back up her arm and into her right eye, severely damaging the pupil and Iris. Michael came running into our house telling us Eliza was bleeding. I calmly walked to find her, hoping it wasn't too serious. When I saw her closed eye was seeping watery blood, I knew it wasn't just a scratch on the skin. I gently lifted her lid and saw that the damage was a very serious injury to the eye. I called a friend who is an optometrist/opthalmologist and asked if we should go to the ER or somewhere else. He had us meet him at his office where he examined the eye, and then told us we needed to immediately go to the ER at the El Paso Children's Hospital, forty five minutes away, because there was no one in Las Cruces who could fix Eliza's eye. We made it to El Paso, where eventually Eliza was operated on. The on-call Dr. and staff were amazing and did a wonderful job repairing Eliza's eye as best as they could. We were able to come home on Christmas day. Now we are in the waiting period for the wound to heal to see what kind of sight-loss has occurred. Her recovery will be a long process, with more operations over the next three to four months. In the meantime, Eliza has needed a lot of help doing everything. The night she came home she kept both of her eyes closed. She has a patch to protect her injured eye, but it's hard for her to use just one eye, so she keeps them both closed sometimes. We have had to lead her to the bath, wash her, help her step out, dry off, lead her to her room, help her get dressed, and lead and guide her through many other tasks she had been able to do by herself before her injury. The New Year's resolution list has come to mind on many occasions, and I can't help but think how stupid I am sometimes. I still want my kids to be as independent and self-sufficient as possible, but who cares if they want or need a little extra help. I do not believe Eliza's injury is punishment for my impatience. However, I do believe the Lord can teach us with any situation, good or bad, if we are willing to let him show us our strengths and weaknesses. Christmas was totally different this year. Some of our kids said it was the worst Christmas ever. We tried our best to salvage what we could when we got home from the hospital to feel the love, peace, and happiness all parents wish for their children on Christmas day. In years to come, it's possible we'll remember this Christmas as being one of the best Christmas' ever. For family night Christmas evening we read about the birth of the Savior. Then Brock shared his favorite quote from "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, which has really helped me find meaning in these last couple of days. It reads: "And how did little Tim behave" asked Mrs. Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart's content. "As good as gold," said Bob, "and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see."