Apples and Family Trees

It’s one of those mornings. I hadn’t even had my first cup of coffee. I wasn’t even out of bed. My husband dumped linoleum samples on my pillow for my review as he was leaving for work. As I was reviewing the samples while I was still groggy under my covers, my youngest pops in without knocking.

“Here you go. Sign these forms. I need them for band.”

Dealing with her and her Aspergers syndrome has always been a challenge. The connections she makes in her brain between ideas are crystal clear to her but the rest of us sometimes feel like we’re wallowing in quicksand while gazing at the world through molasses prisms.

But sometimes, if we think fast, we can get her to give us a rope to get out or spray those prisms with glass cleaner; the questions we ask and the answers she gives make it easier to look through her eyes. And the social connections she doesn’t get are just as challenging.

“Good morning, daughter of mine. Did you sleep well?”

“Yes, mom. Could you just sign the forms?”

“You do understand I’m telling you you have to be a little more human before demanding something from me, right? And knocking would be good too.”

She sighs and looks away, her equivalent of rolling her eyes. Then, as I review the forms, she started talking about her blog.

As a writer, I was pleased and irritated. I love that she has this body of work out there that’s hers. Yet I hate that she’s never trusted me to share it with me.

Secretly, I think she’s afraid I’ll get out the modern equivalent of the red pen to bleed profusely over her work. Or maybe she’s afraid she’ll be grounded for life for something she’s written, whether it’s the storyline or mode of expression. And yet, I need as her momma to see it.

After all, words and stories and poems are a kind of child, and I want to know my grandbabies. And I want those babies liked, loved, and wowed as much as possible; I don’t want them sitting there ignored, neglected, and unappreciated. 🙂

“Yeah, think you could share it with me? I don’t even know how to find it.”

“I’m not sure. It’s just stories, fiction stories. It’s kind of dark and deals with abuse. I don’t think you need to see it.”

My heart stopped. My brain panics. I’m not doing anything wrong, but I know what happened to writers in the past — burned at the stake, stoned with real stones, jailed for years in danky and musty rat traps, locked in mental institutions. And I’m thinking they get much the same today–stoned on psych drugs, limited financial mobility, visits from Children and Youth.

“You know you have to be careful, right? You write the wrong thing, and they could take the house and you and everything.”

I’m crossing my fingers that she gets the facetious hyperbole, knowing full well she’s quite literal and I could be triggering a massive meltdown.

“Okay, I will let you read it. But not yet. And I’ll delete anything that’s bad.”

My heart stopped. We love freedom in our house, especially freedom of speech and freedom of the press; nothing, nothing, nothing in heaven or on earth should ever touch that freedom. Being a responsible adult means knowing how and when to apply that freedom, but it’s still freedom.

“Oh, I know you. Nothing you’ve written could be that dark. But we won’t delete anything, we’ll just revise it. Okay.”

The signed forms disappeared, and she dematerialized from my presence with the unique rhythm of foot fall that can only come from a rapidly growing teen still not comfortable in her own skin.

All my daughters are my daughters. They are becoming what our Heavenly Father designed them to be–unique, special, different. One loves animals, one loves babies, and this one loves words. They’ve all fallen off the family tree in the same old patterns. But this one, she’s gonna rock her little corner of the world. And I have only one response, based loosely on Psalm 17:8 (NIV, The Voice, Amplified):

Jesus, keep my little baby girl as the apple of your eye. Guard her, watch her, protect her. Hide her in the shadow of your wings. Give her tender heart a shelter in the cool breeze of your Holy Spirit.

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