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Dream Big Dreams

     Make a Wish is a dream come true.  That is a very true statement.  But, it is true for a different reason than what people might think.  Phil and I were lucky to have dinner with Oliver's parents the other night.  Btw, he is doing really well.  He is still in the midst of treatment, so keep those prayers coming for Oliver (& Lolo), and the Fangmans.  They are such lovely people.  I knew Ollie was a cool kid from getting to splash around with him a bit.  He comes by it honestly as his mom and dad are quite fun themselves.  It felt good to just hang with them and laugh.  Ok, so what?  Yes, we have to blow off steam sometimes!  It was more fun talking about hope and how much we love our kids.  It was fun to just be a couple out with another couple.  I like them and I know because of their spunk, Ollie is going to do just fine.  Plus, Lo gave him a stuffed giraffe that will keep him safe from horrible phlebotomists, so I know he is covered. 
     But, back to "Make A Wish."  Phil and I had to convince them to consider it.  I remember being in their same shoes, so it felt good to give them the nudge.  When "Make A Wish" first approached Lauren she wanted nothing to do with it.  This isn't uncommon, it is scary for older kids.  It is for kids that might die.  No one wants to join that club.  Phil and I didn't pursue it because we thought we have been fortunate in our lives and the gifts or trips should go to families that can't afford it.  We had to leave it to our doctor to tell us that it wasn't about us and to get out of Lolo's way.  I hadn't considered this, but she is so right.  Cancer doesn't come to only kids that have nothing, it is equal opportunity and so are wishes.  The whole process of "Make A Wish" is about allowing the child to dream and think of their future.  Who are Phil and I to take that away from Lauren?  It wasn't about what we could do for her.  It was about what she and some compassionate and intuitive "Wish Granters" can scheme up to make her own dreams come true.  When Lolo's wish was hovering around Africa, Phil and I pulled Dr. Thompson aside and were concerned.  We didn't want her hopes to get built up and be disappointed; we also didn't want her to be greedy.  Dr. Thompson and the "Make A Wish" agency reminded us that it is Lolo's wish and to butt out.  That is where we saw magic occur.  This is what Phil and I will be talking about at the Big Red Dinner on June 5th for "Make a Wish."  The process of creating a wish happens when "Wish Granters" come to meet your child.  You must be present.....and stay out of it,too.  They get to know your child and talk to them about themselves.  They help the child come out of their shell and put their illness aside and express their inner most desires and imaginations about the world they will be returning to.  These aren't just some "fly by night" volunteers....these are special people that understand the heart of a child that has been made vulnerable by suffering.  They build that child up and find what makes that child grin and giggle.  This is what Phil and I were lucky enough to witness with Lolo.  She was stuck in the hospital bed and was able to research on her IPad cities and places she had never heard of before.  It occupied her time and let her imagination soar.  She didn't want a shopping spree, she didn't want to meet anyone famous (how can you beat Taylor Swift?), but she loves to travel and explore new places.  But, this time, she was the pilot.  She wouldn't be going on a trip with her parents.  Her parents would be going on a trip that she planned and orchestrated on her own.  We were worried that she would ask for too much, but our Wish Granter explained that older kids often had more creative wishes because their experience is broader and if a kid had travelled to places in the past, they might wish for something more exotic.  Phil and I had to shut it, but it was hard. She was able to find things that were just about her.  I won't tell you the details, because a lot of it will be a surprise.  Most of what she chose were simple pleasures and sensations.  The common thread is they are so LOLO!!!  When we conveyed this message, I think the Fangmans let go of their guilt and their idea of "Make A Wish" like we did.  We will be so excited to find out how that goes for them and see what kind of thing Ollie comes up with.  I know it will be all Ollie!  Maybe they will let us share when the time comes.   In the meantime, we have our passports and we are thinking that sometime in June, we will get to see what Lauren's ideal week looks like.
     Another aspect of the process of choosing a wish that was valuable was that it brought out some of Lauren's talents.  She is very creative and loves to work on her iPad.  To present her ideas, she made a video for the Wish Granters.  After she was done, she used her skills to do some neat things for school and just some fun videos involving Lo and her friends.  I think maybe she found a future hobby or vocation.  She loves the creative process.  Also, by acting on some of her short clips, she became less shy.  This encouraged her to do Speech Club.  She is doing Duet Acting with her friend, Catherine.  They are really good together.  At their last multiple school meet, she and Catherine received a 3rd place.  This was quite an honor as 6th graders competing with 6th thru 8th graders.  I was kind of amazed that my quiet little girl had blossomed into someone that could memorize her lines and perform in front of judges.  It is nice to see Lauren and her friends having so much fun with it.  The Broekemeier girls would love to see her performance, it might remind them of the Hacker kids.  It is about 2 babysitters tied up by a rotten 6 year old and is titled "Demon Child."  It hasn't scared Lauren from babysitting, though.  She is preparing for the summer.  She and her friend, Maggie, are signed up for a babysitters course in May.  So, need a night out?  I know a very eager 12 year old that has great ideas on how to entertain small children and can even escape being tied up!  In essence, Lauren is having a fun spring!
     Some kids are just funny.  Actually, most kids are funny.  We can't relate to a lot of what they do because we have forgotten what it feels like to be a kid.  We put adult motivations on their behavior and don't remember that kids just want what they want when they want it.  They are little "id" monsters and want to be satisfied.  Sometimes that makes us mad when we are adults because the same thing comes out in us. (I am just speaking for my own experience here!)   My kids are no different.  I keep forgetting that just because my view has changed since Lauren had cancer....their view is the same.  For them, it is all about me and what I want right now.  It doesn't make them bad kids, but my viewpoint has done a 180 degree change.  I want them singing tra la la and doing their homework and being good citizens of the world.  I mean, seriously, we have this inside passage straight to heaven right?  We have suffered like no family should.  We have looked death in the face.  We better be damn grateful every day.  So, our kids should too.  But, that isn't the way it works.  They want to go right back to the way that it was.  Just because I can't, doesn't mean they can't.  They want to fight and not do their homework.  They want to tell me that my cooking stinks and dad and I are so lame.  So, they do.  I sit there and think  that all of this normal should have gone away and we should have a different perspective.  Then, I realized I do.  I never thought my kids were bad.  I have always thought they were a bit naughty and intense.  But, then again, if you know me well enough, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it?  So, my perspective has changed.  I still have to teach them to be good people and have self control.  When they fall short, I don't worry as much.  I think, "ok, roll up your shirt sleeves and keep setting those boundaries!"  However, I am so much more tired and I am an extreme slacker lately.  It is hard to care about all of those things, like grades and clean rooms when you are worried that the other shoe is going to drop.  But, even that has changed.  I just want peace!!!!!  But, the way I go about it is getting to be more effective and a lot less painful for me.  I have learned this new concept about letting my kids suffer.  Oh, it is beautiful!!!!  I will tell a little secret:  I couldn't bear to let my kids suffer before.  It made me feel like a bad mom.  I made them irresponsible, though.  I cared way more about their success then they did.  But, now that I am so fried and I mean seriously fried (this means extremely tired and not the 70s version as in partaking of the weed), I am not worried about their success so much.  I am not worried about their failures to the same degree again.  I do think I had a major religious conversion and that is still glorious and painful at the same time.  I also had a mom conversion.  Suffering builds character.  Granted, I am not talking about the kind of suffering that Lauren had to do in the hospital.  I hope and pray every day that no child ever has to endure that.  But, letting them lie in their own mess and suffer for their consequences is my new mantra.  And, yes, somedays, I even find myself smirking a little when they take a dive and have to struggle a bit.  They are learning to be resourceful, how to deal with failure, and how to be independent.  I am not as capable of a mom as I used to be......or am I?  Regardless, their successes are their own and so are their failures.  I just don't have the energy to care if Lo's project is perfect or even done on time for that matter.  She is really feeling confident that she can do it herself.  I have given her that by backing off and allowing her to take the reins.  Jonathan has had some seriously tough breaks at Prep, but they have been his own to learn from.  He is also starting to take the reins.  It makes me breathe a little better and puts life in perspective.  There is a big difference between indifference and neglect and setting boundaries and sticking to them.  I think I have finally figured it out.  I am just disappointed it took an impossible year to do it.  I think all parents should sign a paper in 3rd or 4th grade that says, "I will back off and let my child be independent."  I still can't figure out our culture; it doesn't make so much sense to me, but I used to follow along and observe and do what others were doing while having a pit in my stomach thinking this isn't the way it should be done.  My generation of parents were the Mad Men 60s types with a martini in their hand and a bridge circle going while we were up in our rooms.  My dad was a military guy and my parents had their adult social functions to attend.  We all think we need to be our children's playmates, their coach, their cheerleaders, and their personal assistants.  I think there is a happy middle where famlies spend time together, support their sports (but don't have to be at every single practice and game), have time with their spouses, and let the school homework be done just by the children alone.  So, next time you see a project that a kid has done that looks like it was produced by a professional and not a 12 year old, don't feel less and feel compelled to compete, give your child a pat on the back for doing their own work and be proud of what they can do themselves.  I am going to try.  I am also going to quit beating myself up when my kids are beasts and have rude manners at dinner.  I am going to excuse them from the table, escort them to their rooms, and have a nice little shaken drink with my husband and enjoy some peace and quiet.  Sometimes change is hard, but good.
     Oh, and I am going back to work.  I am going back to work as a Clinical Scientist....details to follow.  I start next week and I still don't know the details.  I hope someday I get to return to work as a teacher of some kind.  It is definitely where my heart is....or was.  But, right now my heart needs to be at home focused on my own kids.  I need to work somewhere where I can clock out and go home.  I always liked my work in the lab, I just felt the need to go make a difference somewhere.  Who knows what the future will bring.  I am also starting a blog and will give details about it later.  It will be focused on being kind to yourself and accepting imperfection.  It will reflect my interests and thoughts on parenting, culture, religion, and hope.   The website is up and under construction. In addition, I will be writing about our travels this summer.  I have a few trips planned, some for fun and one as a pilgrimmage.....and this is what I have been dreaming about!