What strangeness must fill one’s life, to be at all times perched on the edge of action. How exhausting it must be for those whose disability can be defined by anxiety, for they are always vigilant, always striving, never at rest. How very tired my Noah must be.
Noah has taken to locking his door at night – a habit I despise, because, as I’ve told him, I can’t get to him in a hurry. He is a “hider,” and a trickster. And it’s not beyond him to lock his door for the sheer petulance of it as he snickers to himself from under the bed. More recently, this habit is a defense against his brother’s nighttime wanderings. Jesse’s preferred destination at 2 a.m. is Noah’s top bunk – with his head mashed into Noah’s ribcage. To say this annoys Noah might be like saying the Titanic was a dingy with an ice cube problem.
Today was the first day of school for Noah and Grace. I went to Noah’s room where, as per usual, the door was locked. With Matt traveling, garbage to take out, dogs to be fed, and three kids to get dressed and out the door, I was in no mood for it. My light tapping was replaced with heavy pounding and a caution about all manner of privileges that could be lost if he didn’t open up RIGHT THAT INSTANT!
Noah came bleary-eyed to the door in a rumpled school uniform.
“Noah – you’re dressed already?”
“Yeah. I slept in my clothes last night. I was worried we were going to be late.”
Noah was at the ready. Preparation was his defense against being caught unaware, of having to “catch up,” of losing the blessings that might be present in a more serene morning. Noah’s readiness protected him (and his mother) from a tardy slip. Ordinarily, I would instruct him that he shouldn’t have to be uncomfortable to ensure our promptness, and that the nighttime uniform was unnecessary. Today, I breathed a quiet sigh of gratitude. He’d actually helped our family get ahead.
Noah’s anxiety is a torment to him – and to us as his parents. He cannot let down. Someday, we will find a more effective solution to easing his ongoing angst about everything from choosing the wrong ice cream flavor to losing his Nintendo game cartridges. But from his preparations today, came this reminder: “You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” (Luke 12:40)(NLT). I need not be anxious (Philippians 4:6), but I ought not to be lax, either. I get one shot. What comes after this life is what I’m really prepping for.
Knowing it fuels Noah’s anxiety, I will prevent this kind of pajama game as much as possible in the future. Unless I think I might be very, very late. Then I will lay out his uniform, tell him to wear what he wants to bed, and close the door with a wink.