Near Death Experiences Really Should be Teachable Moments

It’s crazy how insane the past couple weeks have been. The movers handled the large items and friends carried loads of boxes, but our new townhome sat piled ceiling-high with boxes for a week as we spent time outside with the neighbors and packed up for a beach vacation.

Sand is always good. Sand that has been dredged from the bottom of the ocean is near perfection. There’s not a sharp sea shell in it. You can dig and dig and dig out a hole large enough for boys to jump in and be completely hidden from sight. You can drizzle it into the forest where the trolls live while waiting to save Princess Ana from the accidental strokes of Elsa. You can mold a horse to be galloped upon. You can mold sandballs of wet sand dabbed in hot fine sand to threaten siblings with. You can rest.

There are few things more relaxing than sun and sand and the lap of waves. There are also few things more terrifying than the power and pull of water.

The warm sun was coaxing my eyes to close as I sat upon a boogie board and watched the three boys jump in the surf. After each wave, I would identify them – The First One shakes his head to get the water out of his ears. Super Tall Guy wipes the water from the top of his head to his chin. Mr. Ornery bounces and bounces and bounces. He comes up from under a wave and bounces as he awaits the next. His ringlets bounce. His body bounces. His arms bounce.

And suddenly there was no bounce. I looked again. There was his head very close to Super Tall Guy, but there was no bounce. They were too far out. They were too far out to see their faces, but I was on my feet and headed out there. A glance at the lifeguards on their stand showed that they were not going to be of any help. The panic started to rise as each wave pushed me back from my singular goal – to reach my boys who were being swept out to sea. But I wasn’t getting there fast enough. Do I scream? Yell? The three adults near them were close enough though. One man reached for Mr. Ornery and pushed into shore. One man grabbed Super Tall Guy and guided him in. I watched The First One start to swim.

Mr. Ornery wrapped his arms and legs around me as he clung sobbing in my arms. I tearfully thanked the Helpers. I praised Super Tall Guy for clear attempts to save his younger brother and keep him afloat. Suddenly I panicked again looking for The First One. Where was he? Mom, where is he? Super Tall Guy, where is he? I rushed to the lifeguards and then turned and found him. He had swum beside the current and then into shore. We all hugged.

“Look for the helpers,” I reminded the boys as Mr. Fred Rogers so eloquently stated. Rogers HelpersWhen you are in trouble, look for the helpers. They will be there.

Ask Mr. Ornery how his vacation was and he’ll say “I was almost dead.” We had to talk a lot about it that night. We talked about safety. We talked about the power of water. We talked about the helpers. We talked over and over about how you “NEVER go out past your waist” and you “NEVER swim alone.” We talked about going back in again.

And he did. Right back into the water the next day. I watched much more intensely. And I watched the new day’s lifeguard splash over to him and remind him in words and body language – “NEVER go out past your waist.”

And yet he did. Bouncing along right into the deep. This boy is going to require a whole lot of “teachable moments.” And he’s going to need a whole lot of Helpers!

But I, for one, would like to skip the “near death” moments the next time he needs to learn a lesson.

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IPOY

We watched fireworks last night for July 4th and I was disappointed to see someone’s private drone right there in the middle of the flashes. As we tried to enjoy the beauty of the sparkles and the colors, there was a small green line hovering in and out of the exploding bursts. Distracting, to say the least, but mostly I was annoyed that one individual had the gall to put an object in the air and detract from the viewing pleasures of thousands of spectators. Examples flooded my mind of so many times that I’ve seen one person think solely of themselves to the detriment of others.

Sometimes it feels like there’s a palpable shift towards more and more people thinking

www.wpxi.com (photo credit)

http://www.wpxi.com (photo credit)

only themselves, yet, tonight as I watched the USA Women’s Soccer team come together as champions, I think of their sacrifice of time and effort and I’m reminded of so many people I know who continue to lift others up. In the immortal words of Fred Rogers, I’m Proud Of You (IPOY).

IPOY, my friend, for flying your three boys to Vancouver so they might witness that historic moment as the USA women won their third World Cup title. You have given your sons a memory they will cherish for a lifetime.

IPOY, my friend, that despite a recent divorce, you intentionally try to make sure your 5-year-old daughter has many magical and fun “first” moments with her father. You know how important it is for her to continue and cement a bond with him.

IPOY, my sister, that while already parenting two children adopted from foster care, you are opening your heart and your home to another boy so that he may never again feel abandoned or unloved. You risk heartache and tears so that he might see your unconditional love and heal.

IPOY, my friend, for not worrying about the possible stigma of a medical condition, but seeking help and treatment for a recent illness so that you might be whole again for your children and family. You have shown strength and courage.

IPOY, my friend, for persevering along each goal from medical assistant to nurse to nurse practitioner while parenting two amazing children on your own and serving the community in so many ways. You teach us to seek our dreams and never give up.

IPOY, dear preschool teacher at Disneyland, for willingly reaching out to touch a complete stranger and speak a word of encouragement to a mother in the journey of parenting “challenging” children. You remind us that we are in this together.

IPOY, my “friends” in a social media group, for your daily sacrifice of time with your own family to provide medical care for other people’s family. You gracefully juggle the demands of parenting and doctoring with poise and aplomb.

IPOY, my parents, for sticking with each other through thick and thin for 50 YEARS (this Friday) and for modeling faith and hope and love to your family and to the world around you. You are an inspiration and a gift to many.

It is easy to get bogged “down” and see all the hurt and the pain in the world, but there is actually so much joy and beauty in every day and in each other. Lest we forget this, take a moment today to send someone you admire an IPOY – by text, by Twitter, by Facebook, by phone (what? talk to someone?)….heck, hug someone today and say,

I’m mighty darn Proud Of You!!

IPOY4