When we think of soldiers, most of us picture the fighting machines that these men have been trained to be, and we would not be wrong in most respects, but what we sometimes fail to realize is the fact that a soldier is a person with a deep love of human life. They don’t go to war because they want to be trained killers, but rather they go to war because they want to preserve life, and a way of life. They see that there are people in this world who are being abused, beaten, and starved into submission…or worse yet killed for refusing to submit. There are evil people in this world, who somehow feel that they have the right to control other human lives. They want servants, or they want to sell people, or just own people. Soldiers go to war, because they see these evil actions for the wrong that they are, and they can’t stand by and let it just happen.
So yes, in that respect, our picture of the trained killer is exactly right, but what we so often miss is the human side of the soldier. We miss the man or woman who has left their own children, nieces, or nephews behind to go and fight for children in some other country, so that they might be able to live out their lives in the same safety that the children, nieces, and nephews of the soldier are able to live in back home. The problem is that we don’t often realize what things they do for those children in other nations. We don’t often see the moments of playing with the children. We don’t see the children who come up to the soldiers, because they feel safe around them…even with the possibility of gunfire at any moment. They still feel safer near the soldiers than they do on their own.
And for our soldiers, who are so lonely for their own children, nieces and nephews, it is a nice break from the reality of war, with all its ugliness, even if it is just once in a while, and even if it is just for a few moments. Maybe they can take a few moments and pretend that this child they are playing with is their own child at home. Maybe they can pretend that they are pushing their own child in a swing, on a merry-go-round, or just giving them a simple hug. Perhaps those few moments that they get once in a while, can take them away from the worry for their own safety, or the fact that in a little while they will be faced with an enemy, who they will have to kill, or they will be killed. War is a hard place to be, and a life event that no soldier can ever forget, so it is nice, for just a few moments, to be able to spend a little time with a child, to get away from the war and the ugliness that lies within it. Sometimes we, the people back home need to just consider the sacrifice our soldiers make, and be glad that they have a moment of relief, even if it is just once in a while.
My husband, Bob doesn’t often give the past a lot of thought. He is one of those here and now types of people. It isn’t that he doesn’t remember the past, or even that he doesn’t think about it once in a while, but if he does, he doesn’t mention too many things that he is thinking about. Nevertheless, he made an exception while we were on our cruise.
As is the case with most cruises, you see a variety of people…many of them children. And, you get a variety of behaviors from these children. Obviously, you will see the well behaved children, and the misbehaving children…and everything in between. But, it was neither of these types of children that caught Bob’s eye, but rather a little blonde girl skipping along with her family on their way to breakfast.
After they passed us, Bob turned to me and said, “Did you see that little girl?” When I said that I didn’t, he told me that she reminded him of our Amy when she was little. Amy never walked anywhere. She either skipped, ran, or at home, it was far more often somersaulting down the hallway. I mean, why walk when you can somersault…right? Amy just couldn’t stand to waste a perfectly good hallway, or any other carpeted area, on simple walking. Carpets were much like a tumbling map, and that was all it took to get Amy tumbling merrily on her way from room to room. We always laughed about that, because it was so cute to see her rolling down the hallway and then getting up to go into her room and play.
As we thought about the little girl he had just seen, it was easy to imagine that she was a girl who was excited about life, and just couldn’t stand to simply walk. That was exactly what Amy was like as a little girl. If she wasn’t swinging on the table like only a tiny girl could, then she was somersaulting down the hall, or swinging from the bars on the swing set. She could easily have been Tarzan’s baby…swinging from the trees. Or you might just as likely find her up on the bumper of Bob’s truck, helping her daddy. Amy was always excited about the next thing coming her way.
Amy and her family recently took a cruise too, and she was so excited about going. I know she is a grown woman now, but I have a feeling that it was all she could do not to go skipping along on the deck of the ship heading to breakfast with her family, or anywhere else that she went for that matter. Those old habits die hard, and when you are a skipper, you find that it’s really hard to contain all that excitement…just like that little girl Bob had seen.
Since time began, mothers have been trying to find a way to quiet a fussy baby, when there is work that needs to be done. Women have tried just about everything, probably even ear plugs in an effort to get some peace and quiet when they can’t just stop everything to hold the baby. From the need for peace, there came many inventions, such as the baby sling or the back/front pack, which we can credit to the Indians, who made one to hold their baby, or papoose. Yes, they have been modified but no one can claim the actual invention, except the Indians. This way of carrying your baby while you went about your daily chores has worked well for many a mother, myself included. With two daughters, 11 months apart in age, going to the store was hard, but with a front pack for my youngest, and a back pack for my oldest, I could go by myself to the store or anywhere else I wanted to go, and go I did. Those packs saved my days.
Of course, not all of our work can be easily done in a standing position. Scrubbing, making beds, and lots of other housework requires bending over…something that is difficult with a baby strapped to you. Cradles required someone to rock them, meaning that you have to be sitting. That is fine if you are reading or knitting, but doesn’t work very well if you need to be moving around. Something else would have to be done. Years ago, people used baby swings…of the outdoor version in an attempt to entertain and quiet their baby, but while that worked pretty well, and people could safely leave their babies outside for short amounts of time, it still didn’t work very well if the work that needed to be done, happened to be indoors. From the need to have a babysitter that could rock our babies to sleep, indoors, while we went about our work, came the invention of the modern wind up swing. Aw yes, necessity is the mother of invention.
I was talking to my niece, Chelsea after church the other day, and she mentioned that on the previous Sunday, when her daughter, Aurora simply would not settle down, she took her back to the nursery to play. That went ok, and the next week, they asked Chelsea to bring her back again. When she did, Aurora was so excited that she practically jumped out of her mother’s arms to get into the room. Chelsea said she just about cried.
I was reminded of Amy, when she went to pre-school. She was so ready…just like Aurora. Being the second child, Aurora has watched her brother get to go and play with the neighbor kids, and other assorted cousins, while she is stuck in her mother’s arms, a highchair, stroller, or other such item of…confinement. Like most children with older siblings, this matter frustrates Aurora, and there seems to be no solution…just a life of total unfairness, in which she wonders if she will ever be big!!
So, when she finally found a place where she could go and play with the other kids, and nobody says she can’t, she was delighted. Maybe there was hope for a good life after all!! Aurora was taking no chances. Chelsea brought her back to the nursery, and she knew that Mommy was going to leave and let her stay…just like the big kids get to do. Aurora was the most excited little girl in the world.
So, as soon as she got there, she was off…hoping that her Mommy wouldn’t make her leave just yet. Chelsea, on the other hand, got to stand there feeling just a little bit lonely. Her baby was growing up so quickly. I’m quite sure she was feeling just like I did that day so long ago now…like her baby was going to be all grown up and off on her own, before she hardly had time to blink, and she didn’t like that feeling one little bit.
Children grow up so fast, and once they are grown, we look back on those past years, and wish we could go back somehow, or stop time all together. Unfortunately, time simply will not be stopped. It passes without concern for our feelings. Today is our Independent Aurora’s first birthday. Happy birthday precious baby girl!! We love you so much!! Don’t grow up too quickly, ok!!
My girls were babies about the time the wind up baby swing was invented. Boy was that thing ever a life saver. Babies who were fussy and wouldn’t sleep would almost instantly fall asleep in there. Of course, I didn’t let the girls sleep there over night…that would not be a good plan, but it did offer me a little break once in a while.
My girls loved their swing. Soon the time of being a newborn passed, and they were babies who could be a little bit more alert and aware of their surroundings. They still loved their swing. I remember getting ready to put them in, and they would giggle and kick their little legs in anticipation of the ride. It was like having their own carnival ride. I think most babies get to a place where they really enjoy their swing. It becomes more than just a tool to get a cranky baby to sleep. Just like kids who are older…babies like to swing.
For a time, we hung toys from the crossbar for the girls to play with, but they never really could make that work very well, so we gave them a stuffed animal to play with. Funny thing is, the toys were really not necessary. Kids are really very resourceful, and they can make toys out of most situations. In the absence of real toys, they will look for things that will work as a good substitute.
And as we all know, it doesn’t take kids very long to find something to play with. It is right in front of them as they are laying on their back on the floor. They play with their hands and their feet. Their hands were the first thing they played with in their swing. Chewing and sucking on them, but since neither of my girls ever really took to the whole thumb sucking thing, their hands got old pretty fast when it came to being used as a toy.
Then came a very important day in the lives of my daughters. There they were…tired of their hands, and looking for something new…something that would get rid of their boredom and still allow them to stay in the swing they so loved. They looked around for something new. What could they use as a new toy? Then, just when they thought they might have to do something drastic…like cry, they looked over the edge of the swing, and wonder of wonders, there it was! Inspiration hit them…”Hey, I see my feet!!”
My sister-in-law Rachel’s daughter, Cassie, and her husband Chris, gave birth to a baby boy named Lucas Rae exactly 6 months ago today. Little Lucas was not given good odds early on in the pregnancy. It all began shortly after they were told that they would have a son. Joy soon turned into concern as the doctors explained that baby Lucas was smaller than he should be at that point. It was determined that he had an intestinal blockage, a 1 in 8 million chance, that was causing him not to be able to absorb nutrients properly. They were also told that in addition to the surgery shortly after his birth to clear the blockage, he had three holes in his heart that would need to be addressed at some point. They were also told that it was likely that Lucas had Down’s Syndrome. It was a huge blow for a young couple to take, but they faced it head on, determined to win. Prayer requests were immediately sent out.
Cassie was due to deliver Lucas about August 3, but that was not to be. It was important to deliver him early so the blockage could be removed and he could begin to grow, but delivering him early also presented problems, given his small size. Still, the early delivery was the best option. So on July 3, 2011 at 11:51pm, Lucas Rae was born by Cesarean Section in Denver. He weighed 2 pounds 7 ounces and was 16 inches long…4 inches longer than the doctors expected…the first miracle. He was on only oxygen at that point because of immature lungs. They had to wait on the surgery because Lucas was having a little bleeding in his brain, but it was not a stroke or tumor…the second miracle.
Finally, the day came for the intestinal surgery. Lucas had gained a little weight, and the bleeding had stopped. The surgery went very well, and Lucas was soon on the way to much needed weight gain. About this same time they were told that one of the three holes in his heart had healed in its own…a third miracle. Finally Lucas was able to go home, weighing 4 pounds 9 ounces. His favorite place to be, other than in Mommy or Daddy’s arms, was his swing. All too soon, the time came to return to Denver for the heart surgery. After a successful surgery, Lucas was finally able to come home for good…a fourth miracle. He was such a “little trooper” through all of this as his Grandma would say.
Today is Lucas Rae’s 6 month birthday…a day that the doctors weren’t sure would ever arrive, but God and the prayers of faith knew different. He is still pretty little, and looks a bit like a baby doll in some of his pictures, but he is happy and smiley, and much loved. While I, like most of his Casper family, haven’t had a chance to meet Lucas yet, we already love our sweet little miracle man very much.