Sunday, February 1, 2009


All kidding aside, what I most hope to do with this blog is chart my journey.

You see, having four children from adulthood down to Demon Baby, I have come to be convinced of something.

Every child is perfect. They emerge from the womb utterly who they are. Perfect and delicious. They are the closest beings, I think, to heaven, to God, to whatever your understanding of him or her is.

And then, mostly, the world messes with that perfection. They are crushed by the insults of others, or they are hurt by a parent's careless words or a burned-out teacher's relentless picking, or by poverty or parents with significant problems, or in extreme cases, they are abused. Having spent a couple of years working as a mentor to unwed teen mothers in one of the worst 'hoods in Florida through Children's Home Society (as a volunteer), I can attest to teens thrown away. Just on society's garbage heap. The work I did was the most painful and rewarding work of my life. I cried, regularly. As I often tell a friend of mine, "I am rarely bored and often heartbroken."

And having spent some time thinking about it, I have come to the conclusion that it isn't about Demon Baby's journey but my own. I believe God sometimes sends a parent the child who will teach you about unconditional love in ways you simply didn't believe was possible. Apparently, God thought I was worthy of being taught. My lessons come in a tiny little package of impishness.
If my greatest pain in life is a Cheeto-encrusted carpet, I have a very good life indeed. I am a better person for having this child . . . I believe the universe looked at my personal failings--a lack of patience, an inability at times to be in the moment, a perfectionist streak--and said, "Ah ha . . . we have just the cure for you. He will often be naked, he will challenge you at every turn, and maybe THEN you will learn what it REALLY means to be a mother."
In the light of day, this was our conversation yesterday. He and I were on my king-size bed, whispering.
"Do you have something to say to me?"
"I'm very sorry I was so naughty."
"Why did you do that to the carpets?"
"For my superhero powers. When I eat food from the floor, it increases my strength a hundred times."
"I don't know. It's just how it works."
"If you continue to do things like that, though, I will have to take your superpowers away." (Thanks to the people who suggested this bit of Ninja Mama logic.)
"That's not possible."
"All my strength is deep inside my soul. You can't get it out."
"I will take it out while you are sleeping. Through your mouth."
He opened his mouth wide. "See that?"
"My superpowers are a hundred times bigger than my mouth, you couldn't pull them out in my sleep. To even try, you would have to surgically open me from the bottom of my head ALL the way down my back and even THEN you couldn't pull ALL my superpowers out."
"Seriously. That's how strong I am."
"I don't know that I can continue to debate this with you. Look . . . you made me cry. Do you like doing that?"
"So next time, can you remember that it was hurtful to your family and TRY not to do such a naughty thing."
He came very close to me and rubbed his cheek against my cheek. "Okay. I love you, Mom."
"I love you too."
We hugged for a while. And then he climbed from the bed and was off to challange the world. His last phrase and he left the room was, "Victory is mine!"
I was struck by the world he lives in. That he knows deep in his soul he has something special. And I reminded myself . . . I have four healthy children. My adult daughter calls me every single day of her life to talk for an hour and hangs up EVERY call with "I love you and miss you."
Today . . . I have perfect clarity.
The lessons we have to learn sometimes come delivered by little boys with orange hats and superpowers. And I am very lucky I was considered worthy of being taught.


spyscribbler said...

That's beautiful! I couldn't agree more! It's like, starting in fourth-fifth grade, two things happen: first, they start to become adults; second, all these funky things, like insecurities and fears and complexes, start crawling into them. It really breaks my heart.

It's also why I push the kids to get to a certain skill level before they have to add all that gunk to the mix. If they're not playing intermediate music comfortably by the time that gunk gets in there, they're usually not going to get through those years unless we stay at easy music, at least until they figure out how to handle the gunk. (Parents today insist on piano only being fun, so we can't usually deal with those issues together. About ten years ago, we could.)

I also have all my students choose their pieces. They have an uncanny instinct for what they need to learn.

Heather Harper said...

Now I'm crying and my eyes are burning because I rubbed them and got a little of my nighttime face cream in them.

But it was worth it. ;-)

Robin said...

As Adam watches the Superbowl, I'm fooling around on my laptop. Now Adam says, "Honey, why are you crying? Are you sad that the Steelers just made that incredible interception?"

That was so nice. It's true. Demon Baby is so wonderful in his silliness. And now I wonder if God gave me two smart, silly, wise cracking, neurotics to test me.

Erica Orloff said...

Adolescents break my heart. TRULY.

P.S. And SO cool about them picking. My daughter has picked for a while now, too.

Erica Orloff said...

Thanks! I hate when that happens (burning cream). I do that ALL THE TIME.

Erica Orloff said...

A wisecracker being gifted with wisecrackers. Hmmm . . . .

P.S. I watched the video you all made when they were having their Bar Mitzvah. HYSTERICAL.

Cheryl Kauffman said...

That was so beautifully written it made me cry. I should have known he would have an explanation of why you couldn't take his superpowers away. He has such a great imagination, maybe he will be a great inventor and he can hire Billy Mayes to sell his products.

momcat said...

His absolute belief in himself will make him a very self-confident adult one day.

Erica Orloff said...

You know, his . . . world logic (of his world not ours) is very compelling at times. And it's not ever seemingly off the cuff. It's as if he has really pondered how things are and this is simply how it is.

Erica Orloff said...

I hope so. He actually is rather shy until you get to know him. And then he's just amazing with how sure he is.

laughingwolf said...

brilliant... nuff said! :)

The Anti-Wife said...

You are very lucky, indeed!

Erica Orloff said...

Thanks, Laughing Wolf and Anti-wife.

Jude Hardin said...

Beautiful post.

Melanie Avila said...

I'm repeating what I wrote on your other blog - I just want to curl up at your feet. :)

Erica Orloff said...

You are too nice!

Katie said...

Wow...what an awesome blog. I stumbled upon it through a friend's page and have been following for a few weeks now. I enjoy laughing at your struggles with Demon baby, but also your delights in parenting such an amazing little boy.
You hit home when you were talking about CHS. I work in foster care/adoptions and can totally identify with the "I am rarely bored and often heartbroken." That's how I live my life at work. Thank you for sharing your beautiful moments with a "different" child.

Erica Orloff said...

Thanks so much!!

And yes, CHS does amazing work, but man . . . I can remember sometimes thinking, "I can't believe I am having to deal with this?"--crack addicts and STDs and so on . . . and it wasn't what I "signed up for"--nothing quite prepared me for it, and yet, it was painfully, heartbreakingly, a wonderful, wonderful experience that taught me more about myself that I ever taught the kids I volunteered with.

One year, I had a Christmas toy drive. We were wrapping presents, and one was for a 13-year-old mother . . . for her SECOND child. I wanted to scoop them all up.

Rarely bored. Often heartbroken.

Anonymous said...

Demon Baby really will grow up and take over the world some day, if he keeps the positive mental attitude about himself. So many parents are confronted with something like this and try to medicate the kid, or discipline it out of them. What it ends up doing is crushing their spirit and turning them into a person who is "just like everybody else" and the world doesn't need any more of those.

Demon Baby will do great things some day.

Erica Orloff said...

I got an email somewhat suggesting that. Not in so many words, but I know the subtext.

I accept him as a perect creature. I will never medicate the eccentricness . . . I know what's in store for me when he gets to schoolage. If I have to, I will homeschool. He IS who he IS. And if I can just channel a "little" of the destruction, we'll be OK.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, and underneath it all, he's a really sweet and sensitive kid. He's not out harming small animals or being violent toward other kids. THAT is when you have to worry. Not before.

You're a really good mom.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I love his spirit, his imagination, his perception of the world he lives in. And I love how you are parenting him. Quite the handful and definitely not going to fit the "school mold". Maybe you'll find a good school for him anyway.