Tag Archives: life with Jon

Get Over it! My Special Education, Lesson #10

car-seat-belt-injury-orlando-flI drove halfway up the driveway before noticing Jon didn’t have his seat belt on, so I stopped the car and put it in park.

“Please put your seat belt on, Jon.”

He glared at the floor and snarled, “Leave me alone!”

“You want to be left alone? Ok then.”

I put the car in reverse and backed it up to the garage, where we’d just come from.

“You want to be left alone? Then get out of the car right now and go back in the house.”

I stared at him. He stared at the floor. We sat in silence for a minute.

“You either get your seat belt on and loose the attitude or get out of this car. I’m going out to have a nice time and I don’t need any grumpys coming along to wreck it.” I said firmly.

The scowl on my son’s face relaxed and he reached for the seat belt and slowly clicked it in place. I thanked him and off we went.

On the way to our destination, I decided to remind him why seat belts are not an option. I began to explain in simple language I knew he understood, that wearing one is the law and how they save lives in case of an accident.

As I was talking he reached out and turned the radio volume up.

“So you don’t want to hear what you need to know, is that it, Jon?” I reached over and turned the radio down. “You don’t want me to talk? Well, I won’t quit talking ‘till I’m dead. So you might as well get used to it.”

He reached over to turn the radio back up but not before I heard him mutter, “Hope that hurries up.”

I desperately tried not to laugh. Something so hurtful can be hilarious coming from Jon. He doesn’t talk much but he sure doesn’t pussy foot around about how he feels. At thirty five, when confronted with his inappropriate behavior, he’s often like a moody, bad attitude teenager who forgot to grow up.

I glanced at him as I drove and answered lightly, “Because you just said that, God is now going to make sure I live forever.”

A barely-there smile crossed his lips and he turned to look out the window so I wouldn’t see it.

This is what I know.

Sometimes, people I care about say words that are less than loving.

Get over it!

Sometimes, people I love are hurtful.

Get over it!

Sometimes those I try to help, lash back.

Get over it!

Sometimes those I most want love, acceptance and approval from, disappoint.

Get over it!

If Jesus, who was nailed to a tree, and in the excruciating pain and suffering of his final breath could declare, “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing,” for those who hung Him there, I have no right to hold an offense against those who do less to me.

I’m learning from my Savior and my son how to get over it!

Getting over offense is a choice we constantly make. Everyday and in all situations.

Will I hold on to the hurt and add it to my growing list of offenses?

Will I choose bitterness and bondage or forgiveness and freedom?

Will I choose to stop taking every word, action and reaction personally?

Will I choose to stop being overly sensitive.

Will I choose to let go?

When I pray for strength I don’t have, God’s grace meets me at the point of my choice. I then see others through His eyes and with His heart.

Broken.

Bruised.

Damaged.

Valuable.

Forgiven.

Deserving of love.

Worthy of redemption.

Just like me.

So. Get. Over. It!

“The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest.” ~Unknown~

Matthew 18:21 Peter came up to the Lord and asked, “How many times should I forgive someone who does something wrong to me? Is seven times enough?”22 Jesus answered: Not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!

Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staying Home Instead

fourth-of-july-fireworks-It’s July 4th. Independence Day. The great American holiday.

People are celebrating the founding of our nation by going to the park, the lake, the beach, to a cookout with friends, a get together with family, or to a fireworks display.

Before or after a holiday the common question is, “What are you doing/did you do for the holiday?”

My answer is always the same. “Depends on Jon.” or, “Stayed home with Jon.”

We’re often invited to something, somewhere by someone on these special occasions. It’s not that friends purposely leave us out. “Oh just bring Jon with you,” they say.

And it’s not that we don’t want to go, we just never make it. Jon doesn’t care about being on time or if it’s July 4th.  He doesn’t like crowds or fireworks. Last night, as the neighbors set fireworks off all around us, he stayed in his room yelling, “Shut Up!” over and over again at the outdoors.

So others go and we stay home, learning how to celebrate without joining the masses of those ‘going’ and ‘doing’.

Because of this, I appreciate the true meaning of holidays in ways I never use to. Limits force what is taken for granted, to a place of greater meaning.

Today has been a day of simplicity. I’ve looked up some ‘reminding myself’ history on the founding of our nation and listened to several renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner” on YouTube.

We fertilized and watered all our plants then, surrounded by their colorful beauty, cooled off by floating in the pool for a while,

We broke away from our mostly plant food eating plan to celebrate in proper, God Bless the USA, style. Mike went to the store to look for no nitrate, no msg, no hormone, all beef hot dogs (hot dogs and rolls taste so much better when you hardly ever eat them!) and devoured them with corn on the cob and watermelon.

Americans are often bored and dissatisfied unless something monumental is going on. I know. I was one of those. Once.

Going. Always going. Doing. Always doing. Restless. Wanting. Miserable.

Be careful of a mindset that says we must constantly do huge, exciting things to enjoy life.

It’s not true. Don’t fall for the lie.

Most of us have a lot of what we want and everything we need, so be thankful in the still and overlooked moments and, in spite of our troubles and problems, the blessing of living in the greatest nation on planet Earth.

If you’re out somewhere celebrating our American Independence today, enjoy. But don’t forget to take time to remember what you’re celebrating. And don’t forget to explain it to your children so they can develop a sense of significance and appreciation for the day. If the meaning behind this day is important to you it will be important to them as well.

The gift of freedom should never be undervalued nor should learning the art of contentment in going or staying, being or doing, having or wanting.

Don’t live out of the constant dissatisfaction of What Is Not. Instead discover the joy and fulfillment of living in What Is.

Right here.

And right now.

 

 

 

 

 

React or Respond – My Special Education, Lesson # 9

react-respondJon desperately needed a shower and shave. When I went in his room to vacuum and change his sheets, I took his iPad and told him he could have it back after he cleaned himself up.

“Why don’t you do that while I clean in here,” I said with a smile, “then everything about you will be clean and shiny today.”

He scowled at me and left the room.

I busied myself for the next hour picking up a variety of things from the floor: sticks, strings, marbles, batteries, dice and pens, throwing away piles of old paper he’d collected and organizing his DVD and VHS collection back on shelves.

When I went to check on him he was in our bathroom. I’m never thrilled about Jon in the master bath. He gets into all our stuff when he’s in there, but it’s the only bathroom in the house with a tub so we allow it from time to time.

Later that evening I noticed Mike’s electric shaver was missing along with my pearl necklace. I knew Jon had used the shaver since he emerged from our room with his caveman beard missing.

We looked in all the places he might have laid it down and didn’t find it so I knocked on his door.

“Jon, Dad’s shaver is missing and so is my pearl necklace. If you have them would you please set them outside your door? Dad needs his shaver before he leaves for work in the morning. I was going to give back your iPad but we need those things returned first”

He frowned, glared at the floor and when I left the room, threw a small object at the back of the door to emphasize his disapproval of my decision.

In the morning the shaver and the necklace were lying on the hall carpet in front of his door. I thanked him and returned his iPad.

Negotiating with Jon has become a survival skill I have learned over the years. He is slow and often resistant to respond to everything, including directives. The more he’s pushed, the further he retreats, so I need to remain firm, calm and wait him out.

When caring for someone long term, who needs help making good choices but doesn’t want it, choosing which battles to engage is important for sanity’s sake. Some aren’t worth fighting and others are tough to resolve no matter what. Then there are those days I know I won’t have the patience needed, so it’s best to avoid conflict, if possible.

Dealing with difficult people requires a good amount of tongue taming, self control and wisdom and all of us have plenty of opportunity to practice because we all have difficult people in our lives.

How we respond to them is usually more about us then them.

Because we are naturally selfish, anger is often the normal response. Our reaction is usually based, not on what will solve the problem, but how the other person is making us ‘feel’ at the moment.

What we say at such times and just as important, how we say it, reveals who we really are. A response of great character is described in Proverbs 15:1-2 & 4, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly..a gentle tongue is a tree of life..”

Jesus was a master at responding to others instead of reacting. He knew exactly what to say in every situation and confrontation. He also knew when to be quiet and slip away. (John 12:49 “For I have not spoken on My own, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a command as to what I should say and what I should speak.”)

Can we begin to see the difficult folks in our lives as teachers instead of problems, opportunity for personal growth instead of someone to conquer, and a challenge to build strength of character instead of an irritation to curse? It’s certainly not easy to maintain this idea!

As we set our heart on the intentional practice of responding to others with grace, gentle words and quiet confidence, we find God gives us what we need to be changed from the inside out.

And as we pray for help to become less reactive to difficult situations and people, it becomes natural to keep a calmness and peace about us that others notice and desire.

Then we will “Be ready at any time to give a quiet and reverent answer to any man who wants a reason for the hope that you have within you..with gentleness and respect” (I Peter 3:15).

Slowly Going Nowhere

 

imageJon wanted to go out today. I asked him by question written on my cell phone note pad, if he’d like to go to the movies.

He typed back, “I do yes sir.”

That was affirmative enough so we drove to the theater, arriving at 3:50. The movie started at 4:40. At 5:00 we were still sitting in the car.

I don’t understand Jon’s thing about sitting in the car. Anytime we go anywhere he stays in the car. While people all around us drive in, hop out and are often back and leaving, he hasn’t even opened a door yet.

How do you make a flight or doctor’s appointment on time when the guy won’t get out of the car? When he was little I could unbuckle him, grab him and carry him, but he’s thirty four now. He should be carrying me. After all those years of dealing with his goofiness, I’m tired.

I knew it would take another half hour to get him in the building if he did get out of the car. By the time we bought tickets, popcorn and drinks the movie would be half over. Who wants to fork over a quarter of a week’s paycheck to see half a movie?

And anyway, I just didn’t have the patience for it all today, so I started the car, drove through McDonald’s to get him some dinner and came home.

He was another half hour sitting in the car once it was in the driveway. I put the seat back and took a nap.

We spent two and a half hours in the car today, going nowhere.

Some things in life you can never understand.

The Freedom Within My Walls

imageJon was still awake and roaming the house when I went to bed late last night and the kitchen was a wreck this morning. He’d been in the pantry, cupboards and fridge, gathering food and dishes, setting them out on the island and table, opening jars, boxes and containers but not eating any of it.

He was also dressed, with shoes on, ready to go somewhere.

I quickly made breakfast and cleaned up the kitchen mess while he waited in the car. Then I sat with him in the car at the end of the driveway, close to an hour, waiting for him to give me a hint as to where he wanted to go. He finally handed me a Dunkin’ Donuts coupon. I drove there and waited another hour, for him to get out of the car. When he finally did, he went inside Subway instead.

There’s so much about the way Jon functions I don’t understand and these behaviors confine me to a life that looks much different than the norm. I sometimes feel I’m living inside closed walls, observing through a small window, the rest of the world rushing by.

But I have slowly come to realize something profound. There is a freedom within these walls.

Endless waiting brings freedom of time, quiet observation and contemplation.

While others rush from one place to another, I wait.

While others are frantic with long to do lists and schedules, I am excused.

While others speed past the obvious and the hidden, I notice.

I notice people rushing into restaurants, gulping down food and rushing out, taking no time for tasting, talking or relaxing.

I notice the simple joy and happiness of a small boy swinging himself in half circles on a bicycle rack and how his expression shifts to sadness as his hurried mother grabs his arm and jerks him away.

I notice the swagger of a young man as he walks through the parking lot, swirling keys around one finger, and am reminded of the strength and confidence of youth.

I notice the old woman leaning on her cane, shuffling with slow steps and wonder about the life she has lived and if anyone bothers to benefit from the wisdom treasure within her.

I notice the smiling young woman with no legs, entering the building in a wheelchair and don’t stare at her but at the people staring at her, watching their reactions and reading their thoughts, visible as a billboard, on their faces.

I notice the beautiful young woman with perfectly formed limbs intact, so lacking in confidence and longing for acceptance she dresses to draw attention to the intimate parts of herself and I pray for her.

I notice the many shades of green in nearby trees and a quirky variety I don’t recognize, comical in shape, like something from a Dr. Seuss book.

I notice a tiny bird chirping in the tree in front of my car. I watch him and think of Jesus’ words, that I am worth more to The Father than many sparrows.

I lean my seat back and notice the intense blue of the sky and think about Heaven and my young friend, Rachel and her dreams.

I listen to my daily Bible reading again and praise God for finding ways to speak encouragement to me.

And I observe my son, his unusual and mysterious ways dictating my every day, and wonder why we don’t measure with greater merit, those who march to a different drumbeat.

Yes, there is liberty in this confinement and a freedom in all this slowness and waiting; one others, too busy rushing, wanting, scheming, planning and doing, rarely experience.

Walls, it seems, keep me in but also keep the unnecessary out.

Maybe I am more blessed than I know.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God..”

Jon’s Grownup Christmas List

jonJon doesn’t ask for anything for Christmas. He might circle a movie or toy in a Christmas sale flyer he finds hanging around the house occasionally, but if you ask him what he wants you won’t get an answer.

Here’s a list of some gifts Jon received for Christmas this year:

Two Tom and Jerry cartoon DVDs

Two large print, word-find books

A pink spiral notebook with a heart on the front (yeah, he likes pink)

A McDonald’s gift certificate

A Wendy’s gift certificate

A dollar store gift certificate

$20 worth of one dollar bills

A box of Goldfish Crackers

Two superhero puzzles

A bar of money soap (a hint to take a shower Jon, please)

A plastic toy grabbing tool thing

Play money in a cash drawer

A plastic police badge

An orange plastic police vest

Our Christmases with Jon aren’t typical and are probably best described as slow, quiet and even a bit boring. But, with the passing of each year,  I appreciate more and more, the gift he is to us; all the ways he keep me grounded, continuously reminding me of what really matters.

Especially at Christmas.

Sometimes I’m struck by the simplicity of his life.

Sometimes I’m envious of it.

Sometimes I’m sad for the classic milestones he will never experience.

Most of the time I don’t think about it at all.

I just love him for who he is as he slowly opens, inspects, then carefully packs all his presents into a gift bag and carries them off to his room, adding them to the collection of items I’ll need to clear off the floor next time I vacuum.

You may not have a Jon, but I pray you have something, someone or a moment in this season to insert a slow down and reflection, on the most important treasures of life; a God who proved in the very event of Christmas, He accepts you with a love undeserved. And the people in your life, who stick around for the long haul, willingly to jump, head first if necessary, into every joy and sorrow.

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to all!

Oh No! Home Alone!

homealonemomJon’s all time favorite movie is “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. Following close behind is “Home Alone”.

Our first adventure with “Home Alone” started in the mid-nineties when we rented a copy, sometime during Jon’s early teen years.  After watching the movie, with its many theft prevention traps, Jon took it upon himself to become our personal security system. We lived in a three story house in New Hampshire at the time and Mike had finished the basement as a playroom for the kids. In the back corner of the basement was a door we rarely used and it opened to stairs leading back up to ground level and into the garage.

I went to the basement to throw in a load of laundry one day and realized I needed to go out to the garage for something. Rather than go back upstairs and out the door off the kitchen, I opened the basement door and experienced a brief moment of horror as I watched the kid’s blue plastic snow sled, loaded with paint cans, come hurdling toward me. I screamed and slammed the door shut just in time to hear the thump, crash, bang of full and half-full gallon cans pile up against it on the other side.

Jon had placed the sled at the top of the stairs, lined it with the paint cans he’d found stored on shelves in the garage and tied the sled’s rope to the basement door knob. Although a great idea if an intruder was already in the basement, it wasn’t about to keep one out. But It was genius and imaginative really, with no thought of consequence to the people he lives with, which has always been one of Jon’s great deficits.

We went though a phase of trepidation and alertness, following this “Home Alone” viewing. We would find small toys lining the stairways, door knobs drenched in cooking oil, dish soap or shampoo, marbles and jacks on the floor in front of or behind closed doors, a half dozen eggs lined up on the garage door bracing; when the door went up eggs dropped to the floor or on the car. It was unnerving

We let Jon watch the movie again when he was in his late twenties thinking he may have matured enough to distinguish its fantasy from reality. The booby traps reappeared immediately.

The other night Jon’s caregiver told me Jon was reciting “Home Alone” movie lines to her. When I came out to the kitchen the following morning, all the Christmas balls had been removed from the mini-tree adorning the corner of the breakfast nook and were lined up under the window. There’s shampoo or something slippery coating his bathroom doorknob again, a curtain rod blocking the entrance to his room like a swinging railroad crossing gate on one end and dresser drawers blocking the door to his room on the other end.

Jon is not allowed to watch “Home Alone”. We don’t keep it in the house, but I’m thinking he’s found segments of it on YouTube and this is not good news. While the movie may be a classic family Christmas comedy, it’s off limits in our universe.

If you like us even a little bit, please don’t give him a copy for Christmas. And if you stop by, be vigilant. You could very well be Jon’s next “Home Alone” victim.

The Ultimate Caregiver

Caregiving is selfless work. Problem is, I’m not selfless. Not yet.FB_Jesus_Washes_Feet_PDF-1

I’ve grown through the years I’ve been doing this overtime parenting/caregiving thing, but honestly, I still have a long way to go. There are times when I still struggle and it seems too hard, too frustrating, too confining, too self sacrificing, too…much.

But love moves me forward another day. I love my son and he needs me, whether he realizes it or not. So I rise in the morning with new mercies, new grace and make the most of both the imperfect and fantastic days we are blessed to have.

Comparison is a luxury I can’t afford. Neither can you. When we start comparing our life to others our thoughts can travel into dangerous territory.

Some comparisons that might spiral me into dark places:

They go on vacation. We can’t.

They get in their car and go whenever/wherever they want. I can’t.

Their thirty something year old kid is self sufficient. Mine isn’t.

They don’t have to worry about what will happen to their grown child when they’re no longer here. I do.

There’s plenty more of these, but you get the idea. I can’t allow my mind to dwell on what they are doing. Such thinking has to be ‘taken captive’ (2 Corinthians 10:5) and serves no purpose but a downward spiral into self absorbed misery.

What I can think on is God’s goodness; His provision, grace, strength and blessing.

I have a roof over my head. I’m not hungry. I’m in functioning health. I have support from a good husband, caregivers, church and friends; a decent car to drive when I can get away, a yard full of awesome plants to enjoy and a son who only needs constant reminders to attend to his own basic physical needs. And some times, even while being grumpy and stubborn, Jon’s quirky, humor makes me smile.

Things to be thankful for outnumber the they comparisons and inconveniences, two to one.

Jesus modeled selfless caregiving when He loved me enough to lay aside His Heavenly crown, take on flesh and come to an Earth originally created in perfection by Him and utterly broken by the degradation of His greatest creation – man.

The Ultimate Caregiver came to serve and give His life away. He came to provide solutions for the desperation of humanity and offers the grace and strength I need to serve and care as He does.

Faithfully

Patiently

Cheerfully

Lovingly

Sacrificially

Selflessly

I pray everyday, as I struggle to set ‘me’ aside again, for the benefit of my son and for others, that I will emulate Christ’s love in some small way.

Because true love lives to serve.

John 13:4…he [Jesus] got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (NIV)

Matthew 20:26-28 “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

1 Peter 5:7 ESV Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Isaiah 41:10 ESV Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

Unconditional Love – My Special Education, Lesson #8

Unconditional-loveJon was wandering around the kitchen before I left for Sunday morning service, taking stock of the plate I had prepared him and gathering more food from the pantry and fridge.

When I came home, he was standing next to the dinette table just off the kitchen, and had methodically arranged all his food, dishes, silverware and some treasures from his room on and around a place mat.

He’d barely eaten anything while I was gone which is typical for him. He has to have things arranged a certain way before he feels settled and his obsession will often stretch the process out for hours.

The caregiver left and I started on lunch for Mike and I, warming up leftovers, putting a meal together in about fifteen minutes and setting our places on each side of Jon’s. Our son rarely wants to sit and eat with us but it looked like he was about to settle down and I was hoping the three of us would have lunch together this day.

The unspoken Jon rule is this: he can invade your space at any time, day or night but you take a risk invading his. Sometimes you are received, many times not (read more about that here).

It’s somewhat like the kings in the Old Testament who raised a scepter to show their approval if you entered their presence without being beckoned. If approval was not granted you could quickly be missing your head (see Esther 4:11-16).

As Mike and I took our seats, blessed the food and began eating, the expression on Jon’s face tuned into a scowl. We had invaded his space and he wasn’t happy about it.

“Come on Jon,” I said, “sit down and eat with us. You did a great job setting your place here so let’s have lunch together today.”

It wasn’t happening. He began snatching his things off the table and moving them to the dining room, stomping back and forth from one table to the other until everything was moved. No amount of encouragement or pleading convinced him to stay.

It’s always his choice, never ours.

I’ve learned so much about the father heart of God from Jon through the years. I know what it’s like to feel rejected by your child and I also have a greater understanding of unconditional love.

Jon has days when he barely acknowledges my presence. But regardless of how that makes me feel, I’m aware of his social limitations and I still love him. I will always be here for him, reaching, waiting; doing everything I can to give him the best possible life.

There are many ways I want to show Jon how much I love him that he often doesn’t want or accept, so I have to meet him where he is and on his terms.

As I read the Bible, I see so many illustrations of God’s love for His people. His children.

He longs to be with them. He wants to bless them, rescue them, and shower them with love and mercy. He comes into their situations over and over, making Himself available in their darkest hour; if they would only acknowledge Him and respond to His love.

But they don’t. They turn away and break His heart.

Again. And again. And again.

So God waits.

And He’s still waiting.

Waiting for me and you to acknowledge Him.

Waiting for us to respond to His love.

Waiting for His kids to understand the Cross was the very best He could offer to exchange our wayward and distant heart for His limitless love.

He longs to be with us and waits to be invited.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”  (Revelation 3:20)

God will not force Himself into this relationship. It’s on my terms, not His. It’s all about my willingness to open the door, set a place at the table, pull out a chair and invite Him to sit with me.

And it makes His heart very happy when I do. Just like it makes me happy when Jon decides he wants to be with me.

Unconditional love hopes.

“Maybe today will be the day.”

Unconditional love never gives up.

“Not today? OK, then maybe tomorrow?”

Unconditional love reaches.

“Whether you want me or not, I’ll always love you.”

Unconditional love waits.

“I’ll still be here when you return.”

 

Isaiah 49:15 -16 ““Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

Jeremiah 3:14 “ You are unfaithful children, but you belong to me. Come home!”

Luke 3:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Luke 15:20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”

Jon’s First Kiss

mannequin I took Jonathan and his younger brother, David, to the mall one day to buy them some needed new clothes. As boys are prone to do, they had either worn out or outgrown everything they owned.

We cruised endless clothing racks, the boys tagging along behind me.

“What about these?” I kept asking them as I pushed hangers aside.

They were obviously bored. Most males are not big fans of shopping unless they’re looking at toys (adult males included), but to make sure items fit properly I wanted them to try things on.

While I was focused on David and what he needed, Jon wandered off. I turned my back for a few minutes and he was gone. Again.

“Where’s your brother?”

How often has David heard that question through the years? He was only seven or eight years old at the time but had already figured out he was his older brother’s keeper.

“I don’t know.” He sighed.

I frantically turned in a complete circle hoping to catch a glimpse of Jon’s head moving between displays and quickly shoved the pants draped over my arm back on a rack.

“Let’s go find him, I said, trying to keep my voice calm. “Hurry!”

I immediately had visions of Jon wandering outdoors or out into the mall and some creep abducting him.

We rushed through the boy’s and men’s department, calling his name. We checked fitting rooms and bathrooms and I was just beginning to panic when I noticed a crowd gathering over in the women’s department.

I grabbed David and steered him toward a pointing and laughing group of people.

As we came closer I saw him. Jon was standing on a slightly raised circular platform with three female mannequins arrayed in short, tight dresses, the kind I couldn’t wear anymore after giving birth to this child who was in a full lip lock with the center plastic lady.

My son was kissing a mannequin in the middle of Sears Department Store.

There are moments in parenting you’d prefer no one associate you with your child. This was one of those.

I pushed my way through the crowd and turned to all the folks watching my kid make out with a mannequin.

“Whose child is this?” I asked.

They all looked at each other and shrugged. A woman over to my left sheepishly replied, “I don’t know.”

I glared at them in disgust. “Well don’t you think the responsible thing to do would be to find his parents. They’re probably worried sick about him.”

Their fun interrupted, the crowd stared at me like they’d all just been sent to time out.

“If no one else is willing to find this kid’s mom then I will.”

I turned and marched up on the platform unwrapped Jon’s arms from the mannequin, pulled his face off her fake, botoxy lips and yanked him out of that store so fast, no one had time to wonder if I might be abducting him.

We sped through the parking lot to the car.

“What about my new pants?” David shouted as he ran beside me. So now the pants were important all of a sudden?

“Not today.” I answered.

“But you promised us a pretzel and an Orange Julius,” he whined.

“Not today.” I growled.

Years later, when David had been away at college a while, he called one day. We talked about his classes, what he was learning, his dorm adventures and his friends.

“Yeah,” he said, “I’m just not into the drama that goes on around here sometimes. My friends all think it’s amazing that I hardly ever get mad or embarrassed about anything.”

“So why is that?” I asked him, interested to know myself.

“I just tell them, I grew up with Jon.”