Big boys do cry
I was sorting through Big Guy's envelope of graded school work when I moved his Valentine's Day artwork to one side so I could hang it on the Wall of Fame after I finished. I turned away for mere seconds, and the dog chomped off an ear.
"RITA!" Big Guy gasped, his eyes quickly filling with tears. "How COULD you?"
"It'll be all right," I said. "We can still hang it. He looks kind of cute that way - like the gummy bear in the video. His ear's missing, too."
Big Guy was not mollified. "How ... could ... she ..." he sobbed, falling into my arms.
It's been that way a lot lately. Big Guy, who prides himself on being the tough guy, goes splat after running through the house in his socks then stays where he fell and cries. Big Guy, who leaps off the high dive with the same assurance he'd have if he were bouncing on a bed, ridicules himself as a "scaredy cat baby" because he doesn't like being alone upstairs. Big Guy, who shrugs at disasters big and small, was so concerned about a friend's mishap while moving that he asked me to join him in praying for the family.
It's a phase we've seen before, the downward dip in the developmental roller coaster. I'm sure the current round has a lot to do with the changes and uncertainty in his life.
We still have no idea when Dad's coming home, though we're pretty sure it won't be in time for a NASCAR race we have tickets for next weekend, and we're all bummed about that.
He's switched winter sports, from indoor soccer to flag football, and even though the move was at his insistence he has little patience with himself when he's learning something.
His most recent report card was not wonderful, and we had a serious talk about that. It wasn't awful either, but the bottom line was, he hadn't been doing the work he was capable of doing. He admitted it, too, when pressed. "You've never done less than your best during a game, and you can't do less than your best in school either."
And then he found out that the first friend he'd made here was leaving. He listened Wednesday night to a series of calls as the friend's mom panicked because something had happened to the moving van somewhere outside of Houston and she couldn't find out what. Big Guy imagined all their worldly possessions scattered across a freeway in Texas and, frankly, so did I.
"Is there anything we can do to help them?" he asked at bedtime.
"We've done about all we can tonight," I said. "We'll just have to wait now."
"Do you think God could help them?" he asked. "Could we pray?"
"That sounds like a wonderful idea," I said.
The first thing the next morning, he asked again. "Everything's fine," I said. "The truck had broken down, and the driver's cell phone wasn't working. He got a new truck, though, and he's back on the road."
He hugged me and smiled. "I'm soooooooo happy!"
And so was I, both for our friends and at seeing his smile again, though a heavy dose of guilt was mixed in. Looking back over the past month, I realized that I should have known that Big Guy's life was a recipe for inner turmoil. I should have figured out that something was going to give, I told myself. I should have been more insistent that he talk about it even when he waved me off.
All of which is ridiculous. Big Guy's going to do what Big Guy's going to do, and right now that includes keeping things in until the tears won't stay in any longer. All I can do is keep telling him that it's OK to be scared or uncertain or sad and hope that some day he believes it.
Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.