Malcolm


I don’t have a big list, but here are a few:

Tonight while reading a short illustrated version of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, Maura asked me about the phrase, “he threw his sword straight as an arrow.”  She asked, “Where is his lawn mower?”  Either I need to speak more clearly or clean her ears.

Malcolm’s vocabulary:

  • prize-a-pee = privacy
  • pazzi = pizza (this is an old one that he doesn’t use any more, sadly)
  • what you said? = what did you say?

Maura’s vocabulary:

  • butter n’ jelly = peanut butter and jelly
  • pih mai uh = pick me up (this is an old one)
  • cully = color
  • cullies = crayons

Daddy’s vocabulary:

  • Stop = keep doing what you’re doing because clearly you are ignoring me and I can’t think of a consequence quickly enough to make you stop

Is it okay to be angry with God? Is it okay to feel crushed under the weight of responsibility that He has placed on my shoulders?

I went to church with my family yesterday and by the time we got there, I was ready to explode in a fit of rage. I brought my wife and children into the sanctuary where the service had already begun and promptly turned around to find a quiet place to “vent” only to be pursued by my screaming three year-old son. When I got to the chapel, I held him in my arms and cried. Throughout the 10 months of Meredith’s struggle with a brain tumor and subsequent brain injuries, I have refused to ask God why. Why Meredith? Why me? Why us? Who am I to ask the God of the universe such a selfish question? Other than these musings, I still will not ask Him why. He will reveal that to me when it’s time.

Yesterday, however, I did have the audacity to tell God that I couldn’t take it anymore. I cried out that the burden is too great and I don’t know what to do. I wept openly with my son in my arms and telling God that it was too much for me to handle. Malcolm asked me what was wrong and I stuttered through and explanation of the truth in a language that a three year-old might understand. He empathized with me but did not understand. He brought me back to earth (and the responsibility of being a husband and father) by telling me that he was upset because the brass quartet combined with the organ and choir were too loud and hurt his ears. He led me back to the now quiet sanctuary and our family.

I don’t think I’ve finished my prayer of anguish. I know that God is not finished with me. He is sovereign and I remind myself often that I live to love Him and keep His commandments. That isn’t always comforting when you’re caught between a soiled diaper, a great deal of whining and crying, dinner boiling over on the stove, a hemiplegic spouse needing assistance to the table, and an ungrateful dog scratching at the door. God’s plan for us is unfolding and I have marveled at some of the miracles along the way. I know that He has given me strength to handle everything; otherwise I would have been crushed months ago by the weight of it all.

Am I angry at God? No, not really. Am I frustrated? At times, yes. Who am I to complain about burdens?  He sent His son to die in order that I might live.  Jesus bore the weight of the world on his shoulders. My burden is insignificant in comparison. More poignant to me than ever before is Handel’s setting of Matthew 11:30 in The Messiah, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” In my distress, however, I’m not sure I am altogether aware of how to pick up His yoke and rest from my own burdens. God willing, awareness is not the only thing I’ll have when the God appointed time comes; I will be yoked with Christ and all of the glories and blessings that entails.

MW

Below is a random sampling of Handel’s The Messiah. If I had hours of time, perhaps I could find one that I liked more, but this performance is certainly adequate for my spiritual musings.

Does anyone else think that children who are learning new words are behaving at their most precious?

Maura (22 months) is starting to form three and four word sentences.

Malcolm said the word, “Twitterpated” at dinner tonight (compliments of repeated viewings of Bambi).

At what point do you get nervous that your son wants to watch Bambi instead of football?

Maura thinks that anything that is dirty is “Un poopy diaper”.

Maura uses the word “un” as a prefix to just about anything she says.  “Un poopy diaper.”  “Un juice, daddy.”  “Un daddy!”  Either she is secretly learning French, or she is developing her own version of the Canadian “eh?”  Instead of at the end of a statement, she puts hers at the beginning.  Un interesting idea.

Malcolm helped himself to three brownies while I was giving Maura a bath tonight.  Well, he says it was three.  I didn’t approve even one, so I didn’t bother getting upset about number two and three.  Of course, I didn’t even get an opportunity to approve the brownies.  How does the old saying go, “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission.”  Something like that.

Pizza is yummy.  Even if it’s a half an hour late.

MW

Well, well…there was something I was supposed to wish you all, but I can’t remember what it is. It’ll come to me. In the meantime, here are some more goings on in the Whitman house.

The day started off well enough, that is unless you count the broken picture frame above Malcolm’s bed. I’m not sure how it happened, and I decided right away that it wasn’t going to bother me, but an 8×10″ picture of Malcolm, Mommy, and Daddy on Malcolm’s first birthday (compliments of the Dinnany’s – thanks guys!) was off the wall, glass smashed, picture torn, and lying in Malcolm’s crib. Obviously, the most frustrating part was that the picture itself was torn (pretty much beyond repair) and that we have no duplicate of that image. I did check to make sure Malcolm wasn’t hurt and proceeded to spend the next 10-20 minutes cleaning up the mess he had made while he and Maura ran around downstairs.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that we ran out of diapers and the only thing we had was pull-ups (which for you uninitiated folk are diaper-lites: good transition to underwear but weak on the absorption, and definitely not poop conducive). No problem, right? After all, we’re trying to train Malcolm to be diaper free and potty trained so what a perfect excuse to promote using the toilet for our peeps and poops. Stayed tuned…

So after I clean up from the picture fiasco, I proceed to make breakfast. Keep in mind, it’s gotten rather late. Blast, no more cereal that the kids like! Now what? Well, thanks to Grandma, we’ve got some cinnamon bread in the house and it appeals to young taste buds quite nicely. Everyone has breakfast and walks away content.

Mommy and I rush to get ready because I have a doctor’s appointment at 11am and by the time breakfast is cleared up it’s getting rather late. I brought Meredith over to her parents’ house and left the kids with Stephanie (who was eager to see them on break from school) and then headed to my appointment. (I should say that the kids were excited to see Stephanie, too.) I managed to get to the doctor’s appointment within a half an hour of the actual time (and you know the way the doctor’s office works…that means I was actually early for my appointment!).

Well, the rest of the day proceeded in relative calm. Meredith got to visit with two of her friends from high school, Cara and Rachel, and I was told they talked “girl stuff” and that I wouldn’t understand. I told her that I’m a father of a girl and to try me for understanding, but I could get no more information. Oh, and remember the potty training thing I mentioned earlier…well, let’s just say we’re still working on it.

Enter bed time…

Maura and I ventured upstairs for bath and bed time. She seemed a little out of sorts and possibly a little warm, but we proceeded as usual with our routine. When I took her out of the tub she was shaking and shivering so much that she made the changing table rattle, so I decided to take her temperature to see what it was. Well, little Miss Maura does not like the rectal thermometer (can’t say I blame her). She cried, and cried, and squirmed, and cried. After the thermometer revealed that her temperature was 102.5, she proceeded to vomit on the changing table. I was dodging chunks of Clementine oranges while trying to minimize the collateral damage and provide some degree of solace for my poor little girl.

I cleaned her up, gave her some Tylenol, and proceeded to get her ready for bed. By this time, Malcolm was most interested in why Maura was throwing up. So, he had to come upstairs with us to read stories to Maura before she went to bed. Well, Sir Malcolm smelled a little ripe, but when asked if he had something in his diaper (it was a real diaper at this point, because I managed to get to the grocery store on the day before Thanksgiving which is almost as stupid as trying to shop for Christmas presents the day after Thanksgiving) Malcolm claimed not to have anything in there. Yet when he jumped up to my lap to read a story with Maura and me he refused to sit on his bum. Sure there’s nothing in there, buddy.

Anyway, Maura went to sleep fine, and as I listen on the monitor, I don’t hear her making any unusual sounds (like fish tap dancing on marble floors). Now we shift our focus to Fruit One. He does well right up until the point where I take out the nail clippers. He does fine with his fingers and after a considerable amount of coaxing, cajoling, and outright threatening, he managed to get all but the big toe on his right foot cut. Sadly, I had to resort to brute force to subdue the squirming foot long enough to get two effective snips. He calmed down, but neither one of us was terribly pleased with the exchange.

I went downstairs to finish cleaning up after Maura’s vomiting episode only to discover a gurgling sound coming from the shower after I flushed the toilet. That could mean only one thing: our drain pipes were backing up. Slowly I made my way downstairs unsure of what I would find. Sadly, I didn’t make it to the third step before I realized there was water on the basement floor. Sure enough, the drain pipe had indeed backed up, poop and all. (There is more to the story of seeping sewage and perhaps I’ll get around to writing about it…If I haven’t already…)

So, after about an hour of sucking up the water with a wet/dry shopvac (which arrived at our house during the great basement flood of the spring of ’08 – thanks Dad!), I moseyed upstairs to get ready for bed. Of course, I couldn’t sleep so here I am, remembering what it was that I was supposed to wish you at the beginning of this note…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Good afternoon.

All is well in the Whitman household. At least if you believe the headlines.

Seriously, Meredith is doing well and is progressing nicely. Her therapies are yielding dividends that are encouraging. Her memory, while not perfect (let’s face it, who’s is), is improving. Her health is good (minus the whole tumor and paralysis stuff). So, in that respect things could hardly be better.

Enter the three-year-old. (I’ll do my best to be kind here, because after all he is my son and I love him dearly.) If anyone needed proof that sin is a sickness all humans are born with, then spending time with a typical three-year-old should clear up that up for you right away. I’m told Malcolm’s behavior is typical. I read it in the books and I hear it from my parenting peers. Either way, it isn’t a whole lot of fun dealing with the whining and crying that accompanies the selfishly-motivated desires of a little boy who isn’t getting his way.

What has proved to be the most challenging aspect of this contest of wills is getting through the initial onset of the whining and crying and identifying the source of the whine and/or cry. Once I am confident that the cry is not a result of something sad, or painful, and is most likely selfish in nature, then I am able to assume the role of father and help him work through it (without giving into his demands). Of course, that takes an amazing amount of will power on my part because the whining is so piercing and aggravating that I can barely think straight. And I confess to not always being strong enough to overcome my own selfish behaviors in order to focus on correcting my son’s.

When all is said and done, however, if I’ve been able to keep my cool while standing firm and if Malcolm stops crying long enough to listen to my correction, then we will have formed a stronger relationship because of it. I might even argue that he loves me more because of the correction (especially if I’ve done well with the delivery of the correction). And as importantly is that I am helping (with a large dose of God’s workmanship) to shape Malcolm into the type of man that he will ultimately become. Malcolm, along with his three-year-old peers, may be a selfish little boy, but with every course correction I see him take I see a mighty fine individual emerging. That’s what I try and set my eyes on when caught in the thick of the battle.

Praise to God for your health and take care.

Marc

Tell me, does anyone else out there have toddlers that get sick? (I realize if you’ve got a toddler, then you’ve got one that gets sick.)

After flipping through the “What to Expect in the Toddler Years” tome, it seems that Malcolm (age 3) has every possible ailment listed in the book. After reading through every symptom and every illness it is impossible to decide what he has (or doesn’t have). Maybe he has everything. I’m not sure, but I am certain that he isn’t healthy.

I think I’ve settled on flu as the most likely diagnosis. When all else fails, call it the flu, right?

Good morning.

It has been almost a week since Meredith had her shunt removed, and praise God she has had no symptoms indicating a regression of any kind. It is still possible for swelling to occur but God willing that won’t happen. Everything seems to be headed in the right direction.

When compared to the progress she made when she first came home the progress that she’s making now seems to be in larger strides. She is still a long way off from where we all want her to be, but between the therapies, time at home in a “normal” environment, and a lot of blessings from God she is moving in the right direction.

We are also in the process of tapering the last of her medications. She has been on some form of steroid for about 9 months. I don’t know a whole lot about steroids and their effects on the human body, but from people who know more than me they say it is not a good thing to be on steroids if you can help it. So, hopefully by early December (if not sooner), she will have weaned off of the steroid and she will essentially be medication free.

Considering that she still has the tumor (as of the last MRI scan in August) and she still has a long road to neuromuscular recovery, I think that it’s pretty darn amazing that she doesn’t need any medication.

On another note…Malcolm has developed a fever that got as high as 103.8 last night. The good news is that it responds to Tylenol, so I haven’t panicked yet (I was considering an ice bath instead of medication, but thought better of it).

Maura continues to learn words at a typical almost-two-year-old pace. So, if you happen to see her, be sure to watch what you say. Or, if you prefer a challenge, I would love for my children to have a rich vocabulary and an inquisitive mind, so use plenty of multi-syllabic words with complex meanings. Of course, if you do that, be prepared to do a lot of explaining to an attention-challenged 21-month-old.

Merlin…well, he and I went to the dump yesterday. He loves the dump (who doesn’t?). He scored because not only did he get a treat when we brought our trash, but he got another one when we brought Papa’s office trash. Lucky dog.

Your prayers, thoughts, and generosity have been tremendous and I pray that God will bless you each in a mighty way. Take care and God bless.

Marc

Caring Bridge web site

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