How many negatives have positive meaning?
As I have radiating pain from my wrists and fingers, it makes me curse and then ponder. Obviously, the pain is frustrating and lately a bit tiring, but it is pain at least partially of my own choice. I could take some strong pain killers and swallow away the sensations. The truth is I’m reluctant to do this because I remember what it means to be numb in my legs for months. The pain may be unpleasant, but at least some signals make it through. I’m not numb, and the limbs aren’t dead to me.
So I started thinking about other happenings almost guaranteed to induce groans. The first which comes to mind is ants in our house. I know they drive my wife crazy as she tries everything under the sun to rid us of them. However, there is always a side of me which notes if we have ants, then we probably don’t have termites. It’s kind of like mice and rats or mosquito hawks and mosquitos.
Then there is the little girl we foster now who came in so quiet. At first, we thought her just the most pleasant easy going kid we’ve seen. I mean, she hardly ever cries, and it takes next to nothing to calm her…but that missing cry wasn’t a good thing. She had no expectations of things getting better or somebody coming to help her. Wet diapers or hungry or…why bother crying?
When I spoke with her occupational therapist over this past weekend and said one of the biggest leaps I’ve seen her make is her expectations. She cries now when something isn’t as she wants it. She cries when she’s tired. She cries…and a part of me cheers even if it means more work when I’m tired or an aggravation of a headache. Those little annoyances are a sign something good is happening.
As I was walking the dogs and thinking about these signs, I remembered one of my favorite Christmas stories:
It begins in July when two twins, Jimmy and Jen, are taken out by their parents for a special surprise birthday party. They and a small handful of their friends are treated to a long horseback ride on a trail through the woods and along the beach. Jimmy and Jen love it, and they thought it was their best birthday party ever!
Well, it’s not even a week before the predictable desires and efforts at deal making begin. “Mom, can we have a horse? We have the old barn which could be a stable. We’ll clean it up. Please! We can do more chores around the house and even go mow lawns to make money for the horse…” On and on this went for the rest of the summer. Their parents were so happy when school started because they thought the kids would be distracted and want something else when exposed to the other kids again, but the parents were not to be so lucky. For every week, the two kids kept at the chores determined to take up the issue of the horses with their parents again when they had enough money to buy the horses. Sure enough October rolled around, and the kids were getting closer and closer to the asking price of the two horses.
They decided to approach their parents again. This time, they had an answer for the “we can’t afford a horse” excuse used by the parents last time. Jimmy and Jen may only be teenagers, but they knew their family had enough money. However, when they used their savings as an argument, their parents reminded them saying, “It’s all well and good to go buy horses. What are you going to feed them? Just like children, the expense of getting them is far from the last expense you will have to pay. Did you want them to starve?”
Jimmy and Jen were crestfallen. They had worked for months saving at every chance. Soon Christmas season was coming. They both got on Santa’s lap one at a time and asked for the same thing. I am sure you know what they asked for by now. Of course, it’s a bit unusual for teens to sit on Santa’s lap, but for what they wanted, they felt a personal plea might help. It couldn’t hurt could it? He heard them and wrote a note for mom and dad. on the back of the picture of the three of them.
Christmas morning came around the same time as the year before. Jimmy and Jen could hardly wait. Like most kids, they were up bright and early at 5a.m. bounding down stairs and looking for their gifts under the tree…but there were only two shoe box sized presents, one marked “Jen” and the other marked “Jimmy.” Were they wrong? Had they been bad kids all year? They figured they had best be good now and not wake mom and dad till the opening time of 7a.m. So they sat and sat. 2 hours can seem like an eternity, but they were patient though frustrated.
7a.m. rolled around, and mom and dad came down. It was decided since Santa only left them one present each, they should both open at the same time. On the count of three, they both ripped into their wrapped present. As they did so, a powerful smell went through the air, and it was not a good one. Ewwwww. but since they had come this far, they finished opening them.
Jimmy screamed, “I did all this for a box of poo! You’ve got to be kidding me! Even coal would be better.”
Jen immediately yelled “Yay. It’s horse poo! Where’s the horse?” as she ran quickly outside to go check the barn which was now a stables.
There are often at least two ways of looking at the same crap. If we’re lucky, we find it in ourselves to adopt Jen’s outlook.