Well, I don’t really have “summer vacations”. The last time we, as a family, went on a summer vacation was…the last time. Upon our return, or maybe somewhere along the way…it’s hard to remember…I told my husband I would never go on a trip like that again. I guess he believed me, as he has never even broached the subject of a summer vacation ever since that fateful announcement. But that’s another story.
This summer, our daughter’s fiancé’s children did have summer vacation, from school of course. I’m sure I mentioned that somewhere along the line. They have now returned to school, and so most of their time will be spent at their mother’s home in a town that is an hour-and-a-half away. I will see them on alternate weekends.
I must say that it was something of a relief to have them go back to their mom. It was not an easy summer, though I like to think it was productive. I think I had the children 2 0r 3 days per week, at least, and many of those were 9-hour “shifts”, with a couple of overnights, and an occasional 12-hour stint. I’m not used to that! But it was a task which Our Lord had set before me, and I did my best to complete it faithfully.
Over the course of the many hours I spend with the children, it seems that the little boy, who is now 5-1/2 years old. I can’t remember what name I used for him before, so for now I’ll call him Timmy. As you may recall, Timmy has been diagnosed with autism, though I am now convinced it is a very mild form, and I think that he could regain a “normal” diagnosis with the right type of help and a little time. (And no more vaccines…yes, I am one of those.) While we started out the summer with a pretty good relationship, Timmy, as of a couple of weeks ago, runs to greet me with a smile and hug (okay, it’s really a head-butt in the stomach, but I know he means well!). And he shares his Kindle with me at times, as he watches both the therapeutic program I procured for him, as well as a variety of other apps that are educational in nature and which have provided him with some very necessary scripts and skills for real life. In fact, I have noticed that he often re-enacts some of the games and videos he watches in real life. But you have to know what he’s been watching in order to “get it”. Sometimes Timmy watches a video or app, and then shows it to me with a big smile on his face when he thinks it’s funny. I figure if he has a sense of humor, there truly is hope for him to lead a normal life!
But with the girl, who I think I have previously called Mary, things went downhill. We had many discussions about “religion”. She is very concerned about baptism and going to Heaven, and equally resistant to believing that her gay relatives might not go to Heaven because of their homosexual actions. (We have gone round and round about the fact that the statement “gays go to hell” is false, and that I have never said it; I have tried to impress upon her that it is the behavior that is sinful, and that if two homosexual people love each other, there’s nothing wrong with that, but they must not indulge their sexual feelings for each other. This is a lot for an 11-year-old to understand, I suppose.”
Meanwhile, Mary has a mother and a grandmother who are working to undermine any authority I might have in this area. I have now been told both by my daughter and by Mary that “mom doesn’t want you to talk to me about that stuff”. Well. My daughter told the mom that “my mom answers Mary’s questions; she doesn’t bring the stuff up on her own. And if Mary asks a question, my mom is going to tell her the truth.” Yay, daughter!
When Mary told me that her mom didn’t want me to talk about “that stuff”, I explained that “that stuff” is my life, and any question she asks me, anything we talk about, will come from a Catholic viewpoint. My faith is my life, my life is my faith. I don’t know if Mary can understand this, but I tried. I told her, too, that her mom can feel free to talk to me directly. Frankly, I think it is ludicrous for the mom to tell Mary to give me the message. Man up! (or, mom up!?) I respect parents’ preferences, but I can’t and won’t change my beliefs to suit them! It is the children’s father’s choice to use me as the child care person; I suppose if mom objects strenuously enough, a change might be made, and a different sitter might be found. God’s will be done.
The last week before they went back was especially hard. I felt like I was in hand-to-hand combat with the demons for this poor girl’s soul. I had talked to her very bluntly a couple of times about the ways she lets demons into her mind by watching titillating spooky stuff on you-tube, or reading books like Harry Potter. She cried every time we talked about baptism, and she asked if she could get baptized in some other church besides the Catholic church. I guess the teaching on homosexuality is really standing in her way with regard to the One True Faith. There is so much to overcome in her family. Did I mention that her grandmother is a fallen-away Catholic? Mary asked me if her grandma would go to Heaven automatically because she was a baptized Catholic. Oh how carefully one must tread at times! Because of course, grandma is not guaranteed a place in Heaven by virtue of her practically nonexistent Catholicism.
Anyway, Mary is still stubborn and unreasonable about other aspects of the faith (and even other aspects of life! How early the root of pride issues forth sprouts!). The initial seeds of the faith that were sown have been washed away by floods, pecked at by birds, stolen by demons, till there is not much left. But she does know the story of Jesus, and that is something she didn’t know before. I cling to that, because it is easy to feel discouraged at her resistance to the truth. She participated in a hypnotism show at the county fair, she told me; when I tried to explain the dangers of hypnotism, she scoffed and said it was fun…even though she has no memory of it whatsoever – only the stories her friends and relatives told of how she acted. Sigh.
So, in your kindness, please pray for me and for these little children. And for their mom, too; I realize that I need to be praying especially for both parents’ conversion in this case!
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!