The Birthday Boy

8:50 am. This morning.

Me, standing at bottom of stairs: “Nick! Are you awake?”

Nothing.

“Nick!”

Nothing.

Dracko, from the chair across the room: “NICKLIE!”

“Yeah…”

Me: “It’s time to get something to eat! And bring your sheets down to start the laundry!”

9:03 am: Nick stumbles into the kitchen, expertly wrapped in bed sheets, as Marnell finishes our breakfast prayer.

As I eat fruit sprinkled with flax seed meal (I’m not kidding; after a disastrous week or two of depression and about a five pound gain, I am doing a four day hard core cleanse), Dracko eats cheerios which he declares are stale and Nick munches on zucchini bread, a big hit from Esther Miller, our pastor’s wife.

“After I go to the library, I’m going to do my piano lessons and 20 minutes of reading, or 40, whatever,” Dracko says, with a gracious nod to the additional reading I asked him to do to improve his grades. “I’ve got my whole day planned out. Then I might help out in the kitchen or set the table.”

Going to the library is less academic than it sounds since they primarily enjoy going to play computer games. But once or twice a week, we let them bike or walk over, and a free Saturday is a great time.

“Well, I thought maybe you could do a few things before you go,” I say. “But if you have your whole day planned out including your chores, that could work.”

“I did do some things already,” he says.

“That’s true,” I agree.

He got up before anyone else and did his cleaning job. When I got up, the bathroom was already smelling like cleaning supplies.

“Nick can come to the library today too, can’t he?”

Wow, a rare case of brotherly love so early in the morning? Nick historically sleeps in and doesn’t get his chores started very quickly.

“I think so,” I say. “He just has to mow the lawn. He can do his cleaning this afternoon.”

“Why can’t Marnell mow the lawn?” Nick asks.

“Because you need to mow the lawn every week to contribute to your robotics classes,” I say. “We aren’t going to ask you to pay the $250, but you need to do some work.”

Nick loves the class at the science center so far and is doing well. I’ll probably share about him next week. We are thinking of ways to help him do some fundraisers for the additional expenses of robotics class and an optional class trip to Washington, DC next summer.

“We do have sweet corn to husk,” I say to Dracko. “Why don’t you do that before you go so it’s ready for lunch?”

So Dracko, goes to the porch to husk the six ears of corn. Marnell goes to the porch to read. Nick heads out to mow the lawn. The morning air is fresh, cool and invigorating and I step out to enjoy a moment as well.

A neighbor swings by the community garden and harvests the eggplant, praise the Lord, that no one else knows how to use. Her name is Deb (or Mama D) and she lives across Jefferson Street. Her grandson looks up at the porch.

“I know Dracko!” he says. And then later, “I can’t believe you’re thirteen!”

“I just turned thirteen,” Dracko says.

“Earlier this week,” I say.

“Was it really this week?” he says, and we’re all amazed because it seems much longer ago that he passed out cupcakes to his class.

We’ve all lost track of time recently, in our search for a new normal. I’ve been depressed and medicating unwisely with junk food. Marnell is super busy with the new responsibilities and also needing to preach extra. We’ve had outbursts and tears and fits of anger from this same young man who is husking corn and wondering why there isn’t an easier way to get the silks off.

But this morning reminds me of the beauties of our new situation as well, and I thought the best way to update you on our lives is to give you a fresh snapshot that’s only a few hours old. Of course, by the time I post this blog, an argument may be brewing again. But I still think we are making progress in finding our niche, or maybe it’s just me who can think more clearly with less sugar in my system!

Perhaps, the next time we have an angry explosion, I need to step aside and listen to the voice message I got on Monday, Dracko’s birthday, and think about the bottom line.

“Uh, yeah Katrina, are you going to like–can you actually bring the cupcakes into my classroom and like stay in my classroom for a little bit so you can be there to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and stuff? Would you be able to do that? Please, thank you, bye.”

The bottom line is we have a young man who, in his own words, has been waiting his whole life to take a birthday treat to school.

12 thoughts on “The Birthday Boy”

  1. 😭 Maybe I’m a little emotional and trying to find a new normal too, but this is beautiful. Happy Birthday Dracko!

  2. Bless you, Dearie!! I love Dracko and the cupcakes, and he wanting you there…priceless!!! I pray courage for you, dear Mama!! ❤️you…

  3. Crystal Derstine

    I always love what you wrote, but the style of this peice, and the last sentence especially, tearing right up because the impact hit me subtly.

  4. Tears here too! The voicemail…. and that last sentence….😢❤️
    What a privilege that God has given you to bless them in this way!

  5. Your father in law told us of your blog recently. Wow, you are a writer! Keep up the ministry you are doing. God Bless you both.

  6. God bless you and Marnell, that’s a big adjustment, but am so glad they are with you. They get to learn so many little things from you to help them with life!! Love, love, love!

  7. Yeah… a little late here. Life’s been a bit crazy the last week and a half, and I’m finally finding time (and have wifi) to read this. Beautiful, dear friend!! Thinking of you and Marnell so much and praying for you guys as you continue to walk each step God guides you to take. Love you!!!

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