The Hardin household is once again entering that special time of year. I am not talking about the Yuletide season; no, I am talking about the cold and flu season. What do I mean by that? Lets just say that our son Fletcher is a very giving young man, and it never fails that he “gifts” me at least one sickness during this time of year. You may be thinking, “If you know that this tends to happen every year, why don’t you do something about it?”
That is a good question, and its answer is slightly complicated. You see, there are several things about Fletcher, our relationship, and me that make my proclivity toward illness as predictable as Christmas falling on the 25th of December.
First, Fletcher deals with apraxia, a disorder in which he tends to put everything, and I mean everything, in his mouth. This of course means he tends to store germs in his jaws like a manic squirrel stores acorns on a late autumn day.
Second, although Fletcher is non-verbal, that does not mean he cannot communicate. Fletch tends to mimic Judge Reinhold’s guest character on the sitcom Seinfeld by being a “bit of a close talker.” Said another way, he often attempts to communicate with me by placing his forehead against mine while giggling joyously at one thing or another. This provides me with plenty of opportunities to receive anything that Fletch may have for me.
Third, Fletch demands that he and Dad have their “wrestle time” every single day. Now sometimes big brother Tucker stands in for me, but for the most part, Fletcher doesn’t feel complete until he and I have had our bonding time, a time that was so much easier for me when I was younger and he was smaller. His persistence in wrestling me cannot be avoided; he will grab me by the hand and pull me over on the couch until he has had his fill (usually around 15-20 minutes) of connected time with Dada.
Fourth, I have never met a cold virus that my body didn’t want to promote to a full-blown case of sinusitis. Whereas my little Patient Zero will bring a cold home, he rarely ceases to function at less than optimal speed for more than a day or so. Me on the other hand, will get really sick for a few days, the kind of sick where I find myself making deals with God much like Burt Reynolds’ character in the movie The End. You know what I am talking about, “God, if you allow me to breathe through my nose again, I promise to give you 100% of everything I earn for the rest of my life!” You may be thinking, “If Fletcher makes you so sick, why do you go around him when you think he has a cold?”
There are three reasons:
1. I love my son. The Scriptures say, “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). As I have grown in my relationship with Fletcher, I now have a slight appreciation for those pastors who ministered to afflicted people during times of plague and disease.
2. I love my God. When I interact with my disease-ridden little fellow I am serving him and meeting his emotional needs. I do this not only because he needs me, but also I do it because that is what I am supposed to do. Fletcher needs his “wrestle time” as badly as the wounded man needed the Good Samaritan’s compassion (Luke 10:30-37).
3. I trust my Jesus. Although I am the biggest wimp in the world when it comes to being ill, fortunately, I don’t have to rely upon my own strength during such times. Jesus’ words to Paul are Jesus’ words for me: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9).” No matter what I am exposed to, I know that Christ will give me the grace to get through it, including anything that Fletch may give me.
With these things stated, I must go for now. I can hear Fletch’s fiendish laugh as he’s coming down the hall. It’s time for another round of wrestling. Before this impending Battle Royale, I need to go take another antibiotic because Fletch looks determined to win this time!