Derek went to bed a little boy. He awoke with a full-blown case of acne and big feet.
|I Blinked and He Was Thirteen
by Marilyn Mackenzie
One day Derek went to bed a little boy, and when he awoke, he had a full-blown case of acne. It didn't really happen that quickly, of course. But it surely seemed so to us both. Along with the acne came self-doubts and low self-esteem. What in the world was a mother to do? I blinked and suddenly my child was thirteen!
Thank goodness for home schooling. When acne and self-doubts emerged at the same time, our schedule and routine changed immediately. What would we have done if we hadn't been so flexible?
I realized that Derek wanted to hold on to his childhood and wasn't at all comfortable with the new awkward body and voice. So, we began our days as we had of old.
I entered his room each morning and sat on his bed to waken him. He sat on the side of the bed beside me and we both jumped up and down on the bed and giggled as we recited, "Oh boy, oh boy! It's a great day to take advantage of every opportunity and use the gifts God has given me!" We prayed together and had a short devotional.
Then, I opened the blinds and let the sun shine into his room. (We lived in Florida, where the sun shines about 360 days a year.) I began reciting a poem that Derek learned at age four, and although he half-heartedly protested, he joined in:
"Begin your day with happiness
Keep happy all day long
Be sure to have a bounce in your step
In your throat a beautiful song
Have in your mind a word of cheer
For all who come your way
And they will greet you too, in turn
And wish you a happy day."
Then we broke into song, singing "Let the Merry Sunshine In", giggling some more. Thus began our days as Derek changed from boy to man. His spirits were lifted!
Instead of the old routines of showering, eating and beginning the school day, we started a new routine. He was suddenly interested in working out and exercising. So, some days we started with exercise or weight lifting. Some days we took a walk around the neighborhood observing squirrels and birds along the way. Some days we began with a swim in the pool, or we took off to the local gym. His high spirits remained!
Only after his self-esteem had been thusly boosted did we actually begin normal academic studies. How he hated his math. How he loved science, English, creative writing and even spelling. He tolerated social studies.
Then it was off for more confidence building. Public speaking! We got permission to use the fellowship hall and public address system at our local church. What a difference it made for him to write a speech and then hear his voice on the p.a. system. He learned to project confidence, something so needed for this stumbling teen.
Back home again, Derek settled down to his one of his favorite projects. It was a book he was making called "Bible ABC's".
At the beginning of the school year, I assigned this project for him to complete by the end of the year. He had access to many different translations of the Bible for his search. I asked him to set up a different page for each letter of the alphabet and then find a Bible verse beginning with that letter. (The letter X was impossible, so he found one beginning with the word except and printed it like this "eXcept".) Using an expensive fountain pen, and his best cursive handwriting or calligraphy, he penned each Bible verse. On the facing page, he drew a picture or cut and pasted a picture from a magazine or found some clip art to depict that verse. When he was finished, he wrote an introduction to his book. (It was beautifully written. Maybe I'll share that and the Bible verses he selected in another article.) He used a binder and placed each page in a page protector. On the front of his book he wrote the title, "Bible Verse ABC's" and he printed Psalm 119:11 (NIV), "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."
At a home school convention, Derek shared his "Bible Verse ABC's" with children younger than he, and instructed them in how to find verses for their own book. He showed them how to use good penmenship or simple calligraphy to put Bible verses on each page. Teaching others made him forget about his own insecurities.
I blinked and suddenly my son was thirteen. Suddenly he had acne and was tripping over his own big feet, which also seemed to have grown overnight. And he was speaking in a squeaky voice, foreign to us.
He emerged from that year with a boost in self-esteem as we learned to laugh together and say, "Oh boy, oh boy! It's a great day to take advantage of every opportunity and use the gifts God has given me!"
Six years later, if either of us seems to be having a down day, we'll grin at each other and say those words again in unison.
Even though he now struggles with his own faith, he believes that God created this world, for there are not other explanations that make sense. Science has not proven otherwise. And he believes in creating us, God did give us gifts, that if used will make us much happier individuals. Doing what one was created or called to do just makes sense, because we feel fulfilled. My nineteen year old already understands that. I wish I had at his age.