by, Laurie Haughton of Horizons Photography and Through the Lens of Motherhood
My son, Joshua, was born with a heart defect that has resulted in numerous surgeries and a stroke; I mention this because one of the delays due to the stroke has been his speech. He is termed ‘language impaired’ and it’s caused us and him untold frustration. This past winter, following his last surgery he began having night terrors, every night, multiple times a night. We were dead on our feet and unable to help him because we just didn’t know what was really going on. The following is the story of one night in February when we had a breakthrough! I got tickets from the Starlight foundation to take Josh to see the Toronto Maple Leafs; the traffic was horrific but the long car ride was worth every second of being stuck in that traffic.
A few things happened that night as a result of our date night, a few really cool opportunities, and I had to share.
As I mentioned above, the traffic was RIDICULOUS on the Lakeshore, and in my stupidity I didn’t check the reports before leaving. So at 5:45 we turned right on the Lakeshore and at 6:57 we turned left onto Bay (for those of you who don’t know that area – it should have taken roughly 10 minutes. Josh and I started chatting about asinine stuff,we argued and giggled for about 5 minutes just because he was saying he’s five and I was saying he was four (very amusing to argue with your Mum I suppose). As the time wore on it was becoming darker, and as it grew dark I heard Josh in his soft voice tell me that he was scared. I was shocked at first: we are in a car together heading to the hockey game, why on earth is he saying he’s scared? So I probe (I am learning to get better at that). I ask him why he’s scared, and he informs me that it’s getting dark, so I remind him of all the reasons why he’s safe and why the dark won’t hurt him, and then he says it, the thing I have been searching for months for, the reason he won’t sleep!
‘Josh scared dragon.’
“Dragon?” I ask, “what dragon? Is there a dragon in the dark?”
‘Yes’ is his simple reply, but the sigh that goes with it speaks to the relief he is feeling at having shared that bit of information. Like you feel when you expose a bully and are no longer sharing that secret alone. I looked at him in the mirror, wishing this moment was with me holding him face to face so that I could kiss that worried frown away.
‘What colour is the dragon, Josh?’ and his reply was red, his eyes still staring out at the parking lot we were sitting in. ‘Where is the dragon?’ Was my next question, ‘bed’ and then he looked at me in the mirror ‘no over’ and I repeated him to be sure I was right ‘He’s flying over your bed?’ and his smile of relief at being understood was almost tangible.
“YES” he practically yelled. ‘Dragon flying bed’.
Ahh, my poor little man who has been terrorized by a flying dragon all these months and I haven’t been able to help him. I smile at him in the mirror, ‘you are in luck then Josh, because I happen to know a dragon slayer!’ and he eyes me with curiosity. ‘Before you were born Daddy was one of the best dragon slayers EVER, so when we get home I will get Daddy to get out his sword and you point out where the dragon is and we will get rid of him once and for all! Okay?” the happy reply from the back eased my mind for the time being and we went back to worrying about traffic.
After the game, as we drove down King towards home Josh again said he was scared. So we talked about the dragon slayer some more, but more importantly we talked about the BIGGEST, BADDEST Dragon Slayer (The Big man Himself) and how all we had to do was call out to him and he would come to help us. This was aided when after the game I couldn’t find my car (long story for another post when I am in the mood to seriously embarrass myself), so I couldn’t find the car and I said to Josh, we need to pray that we find the car and Josh, who was in my arms at the time said ‘Jesus, find car’ and like a calf to slaughter I walked directly to my car (in a parking garage under the city, through a hall I never should have gone) It was crazy! I packed Josh into the car and whispered, ‘you need to pray more, he listens to you’ and gave him a kiss. So as we made our way home and talked about dragons and dragon slayers I reminded him of how God had helped us find the car when Joshua asked him, and how much more fun it would be to help Joshua with the pest problem in his room.
As we walked into the house we excitedly told Daddy about the game, the adventures we had and then as Daddy was taking off Joshua’s shoes I asked him if he could take down his dragon slayer sword just one more time. We chatted, he got his sword (Josh’s flag from the game) and up the stairs we all went, in search of a red dragon. Once in his room we asked Josh where the dragon was and pointed to his bed. Tim waved his sword, stabbed it and finally caught that pesky dragon in a big green garbage bag (he was still alive for those PETA people out there) the bag was moving around, Tim had a hard time keeping the bag closed to get downstairs. Then, when he got outside he released the dragon and we all watched him fly away! One pesky dragon forever gone from our lives (and hopefully our sleep).
As we tucked Josh into bed last night, (with big grins) we asked where the dragon was and this time he pointed outside. I reminded him to ask God for help if he needed to, and that Mummy and Daddy wouldn’t let any dragons come back into the house.
I went to sleep last night, more thankful than ANY OTHER time in my life for that hour something traffic jam on the lakeshore last night. It gave me the time Josh needed to share something that has clearly been bothering him for sometime, and it allowed us to help him! Showing him a few things, that communication is KEY, and helps, and that we are here to listen and help, and it opened up the chance to remind him about his friend in God who cares about him, and wants to help him.
All in all, we lost the game (the Leafs that is) but we had the best night ever! Josh is a great date for all you four years ladies in the world… call him in a few (or 15) years.