These days, our family would have been a reality TV show. My parents literally ran out of places to put children so my little brother and I ended up sleeping in the basement about fifteen feet from the washer and dryer. It was a loud sleeping area. I remember putting lyrics to the beat and rhythm of the tennis shoes drying and tumbling in the dryer.
My bed was directly under the floor of my parent’s bed and I could clearly hear my new brother or sister being born. I would get goose bumps all over my teenage arms as I could feel a new spirit entering the world.
My childhood home life would be seen by some as dysfunctional. A few of the siblings who I helped raise before I left home have made a few disappointing choices as adults. It may be true that all of us at times have disappointed the ones who love us. Still, I can remember vividly the day some of my younger siblings were born and the sense of hope of a new person entering the world.
I remember vividly the extreme joy I felt around the birth of my much younger brother -- #10.
We were ripe for child number 10. When he was born, the whole dynamic of the house changed like sunshine entering a dim room. I couldn't wait to get home from school to play with him. When child 10 was about two or three and I was around 16, I loved tossing him up in the air and catching him. He would burst out with an infectious laugh that drowned out all of the dysfunctional behavior of the well-intended adults around us.
Today, that laughing toddler is a medicated schizophrenic. For years he was in and out of the state mental hospital. One terrible day in frustration, he broke out all of the front windows in the family home. He spent time in prison for another crime. When he returned from prison, this once sweet baby boy was unrecognizable. His appearance was scary enough to cause women to cross the street clutching their handbags.
Reeling from the effects of solitary confinement, this convicted felon needed help, healing, and someone to throw him up in the air and catch him once again. He needed a team of people to help repair him. I had to fight the urge to run from him. I was simply afraid. I confess there were days when I ignored his number when it appeared on my phone. I couldn’t handle him every day. I realized and accepted that I didn't need to handle him every day. I was part of a team. It was not my job to heal him alone. I had to learn to set limits of assistance. Child ten taught me not to be a silent, frozen bystander.
Today, child ten is on medication. He still stands out at a family get together, but he has embraced God and the church family as he tries to wean off his monthly Social Security disability payments. He wants to work and pay his own way.
He is a constant reminder to me that although every child brings hope, it is we who bring the healing by just playing our individual role in the “team of assistance.”
We all have a kind of child ten around us .Who is your child ten? Where is the team of assistance you can join in order to play your part?
Every human being, despite imperfection is someone who once was a sweet smelling baby who brought new hope and light into the world. We all need someone to throw us up in the air and catch us." - Samuel