So. My little boy is four. In fact, on this day four years ago, the doctors and nurses kicked Curtis and me out of Baylor Grapevine hospital and made us take him home and parent him unsupervised. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing. I had not even started changing his diapers yet. Curtis had done it all up to that point so I wouldn't have to get up and be reminded of the physical trauma of his birth. The next day - when I woke up in the likeness of Pamela and had a hormone crash that would scare Satan - would probably be the most overwhelming day of my life. But we were thrilled to have our little guy. Absolutely thrilled and in love.
I know I should say something more sentimental but my mom wrote a really precious letter to him on the other blog and I will not attempt to match it at this time.
Wednesday was the big day. Jackson had been looking forward to it since February 18, 2009. I kid you not. Curtis woke up very early and got donuts. We were in the living room waiting for him to come down when we heard his door open. No one came out and it shut again. I crept into his room and found him covered in his blanket on the floor (where he sometimes sleeps). I said, "Is there a birthday boy in here?" He jumped up and said, "I'm four!" We rushed down the stairs and he looked around with a big grin on his face. I said, "Do you think there are any presents around here?" He squealed "Yes!" and started zipping around the house in search of them. He found his presents and donuts on the dining room table. He opened each one and was so excited. Then we ate donuts and eventually Annabeth woke up. I felt bad she missed it but I wanted to take in those moments without being distracted. Sorry, AB. You wouldn't have remembered anyway.
The birthday really revved up when Bibby came over bearing gifts for the kids. They both got a pillow pet. Jackson's was a frog and Annabeth's was a bumblebee. They were thrilled. We met Curtis at ITZ Pizza (which is like a ginormous and awesome Chuck E. Cheese). We had a quick lunch and then got to enjoy the rides and games with hardly anyone else there.
About an hour later, we headed over to a business that sells backyard playsets. My parents were giving one to Jackson for his birthday. He got a netted trampoline for Christmas that has been a tremendous blessing for such an active boy. He even naps again after 6 months of no naps! Our backyard is going to be hideous but Jackson is going to have so much to do. He played on all the playsets while Mom and I picked out the right one. It gets delivered next week.
Mom and I drove the kids home while Curtis went his own way to prepare for Wednesday night Bible study. There were a million absurd moments on the way home that kept us in stitches. For one, we got tickled that the voice command feature on my Blackberry cannot pronounce my husband's name. Then Jackson locked his wrists in the toy handcuffs he'd won at ITZ and he had to ride like that all the way home. I saw a friend walking by when we pulled up in the driveway and I had to let her pass before I got him out with his hands locked together. Thank God the neighbors didn't see. Then I set him free and he was fine.
That night we went to church and Curtis brought a strong word on 1 John 2. We missed fellowship supper because Annabeth refused to take her second nap and I'd told Curt I wasn't taking her to church if she didn't sleep. She would be a nightmare - and she's a handful on Wednesday nights anyway. Curtis didn't approve of that option, so we waited her out. She finally fell asleep at 5 and we let her stay in bed until 6. We drove through McDonald's and thankfully no one got fries with their nuggets or burgers. I can count on one hand how many burgers I've had this year and I have to be honest and say that it was the most delicious thing ever. I noticed that my right arm kept wanting to search for the fries. It's sick, I tell you!
Wednesday was such a great birthday for Jackson. We're having a little party for him this weekend, but I think he had a blast on the actual day. I went to bed so happy.
Then Thursday arrived. I woke up sick to my stomach and stayed that way. (I have IBS or something. I even get sick when I can tell a storm's coming. Nerves much?) Curtis and I had requested a progress report meeting with Jackson's preschool teacher and afterward we were going straight to the pediatrician for our kids' well visits. WHERE THEY WERE BOTH GETTING FOUR SHOTS. Ugh!
Curtis took our boy to school and once I got Annabeth in bed, I got down on my knees with my Bible and started praying. I was in the worst mood, nervous, and dreading the day. I thought it would help to read some Psalms outloud, so I opened up to Psalm 100. The last verse is, "For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." When I read "generations" I just began to weep. I had no idea what we would learn during Jackson's progress report, but I was assured of God's love for my child and for the generations that will come after him.
Curtis treated his girls to lunch, then we went to the school for our meeting. The Lord be praised, it could not have gone better. We were told things like, "He shares well...he minds the first time...he's a hard worker...he's kind and compassionate...he brings joy into the room...he's doing well academically." Hearing these wonderful things said about our son brought both of us to the verge of tears. We'd never had a meeting like this and we really had no idea what we were going to find out.
We got our boy and rushed out to the car so we could tell him the wonderful things we learned about him. He acted like he wasn't listening but I'm pretty sure he heard us. (This morning I asked him what his teacher had told Mommy and Daddy and he said, "I'm a good boy." And he smiled.)
There was not much time for talking because we had to get to the doctor. Oh my word, y'all. We were fools! We'd opted for one really bad day rather than two bad days. Big mistake. First, we spent 50 minutes in the waiting room, which meant our kids were already melting down before they were seen. Second, our nurse told us that another family had scheduled a dual well visit for their kids at the same time in the afternoon. Their two were babies. So the two nurses drew straws to see who had to take ours. Seriously? Who admits that? Lucky for her I couldn't understand a word she was saying because Jackson was rustling the paper on the exam table. Curtis filled me in later. I don't know. Maybe he heard wrong. Basically, both my kids were terrible the entire time, I was frazzled, and Curtis was annoyed. I'm a bit embarrassed that we put our doctor and nurse through that. Never again!
Then the horrible moment came when the nurse had to tell Jackson that he was now a very big boy at four years old and that meant he had to have four shots. He acted so brave. Oh my word. He kept smiling and nodding his head. I was thinking, "Bless his heart. He doesn't understand." But he kept smiling until Curtis was leaning over his chest and holding his arms. The nurse had his legs and was prepared to go fast. Jackson was very tough with the first two and with the second two I could see the tears in his eyes as he started to whimper. But he never really cried. As soon as it was done he bounced back and was smiling again. Holy cow! The nurse looked at me in shock. She couldn't believe it. We just kept telling Jacks what a brave and tough boy he was.
Then we were off to Chick-fil-a to have an early dinner and reward our kids and ourselves with ice cream. Jackson went into the play area and Curtis and I began to rehash our wonderful meeting with his teacher. At that moment I looked up and saw him doing something only a boy would do right in the window that looks out into the restaurant. It was a perfectly humbling and hilarious moment that brought us back to earth.
I looked at my husband and said, "We've done a lot of parenting today."
A few days ago my friend Kim Smith gave me a DVD from our Venezuela mission trip back in March of 2001. That was nine stinking years ago! She said it's three hours long. I haven't watched it yet, but I can't wait. It was on that trip that Curtis and I sensed God leading us to be married to each other and serve Him through our partnership. We came home and immediately began talking and praying with our parents about our future. We were engaged about five weeks later.
We had - and still have - so many dreams of adventures in ministry. But I don't think we gave much thought to the adventure of parenting. That probably would have been a good idea. The last two days were plenty adventurous. They weren't anything we imagined when we were 19 and 20, but nothing could have made me love my partner more than walking through those moments together.
No one else on earth could have known my emotions when Jackson's teacher told us what a great kid he is. No one else could have kept him calm while leaning over his chest and holding his hands down. No one else could have so effectively affirmed our son's developing character and masculinity. I didn't know what a serious decision I was making when I chose my mate. Parenthood seemed a lifetime away. I didn't know what qualities to look for in a college guy that would translate into a great dad.
This I do know: in a million ways, Curtis Jones is God's grace in my life.