Don’t Pee on Me!!
This is another installment of my thoughts from World Changers in upstate New York.
Her tired eyes are shining as she instructs me, “Ask him what a transformer sounds like”.
It sounds like a simple request but the 6 year old has been bouncing off the walls and tables ever since he entered the cafeteria. That’s why I had noticed them – he was literally bouncing off the walls and tables in his own unique way. From his wheelchair, he would grab the corner of a support beam and swing his chair towards a table where he would use his arms or legs to bounce away from it.
He is the splitting image of the little boy from the movie Jerry Maguire right down the curly blond hair and glasses. I keep waiting for him to ask a question about how much the human head weighs. Instead, I catch up to him and ask him, “Hey, what does a Transformer sound like?”
He stops moving long enough to look up and articulate, “hol-hol-hol-uh-uh-hol-hol”, and then he is off moving again. The impression is terrific and I am left standing there in the wake of air he created with a smile stretching across my face. I watch him as he runs up against kids playing cards and he has the same affect on them as he steals a 4 of hearts and takes off with it. They all look after him and smile. He’s contagious. His exuberance rubs off on those he comes into contact with.
His name is Joshua and he does a great job of breaking down walls.
Before I leave the cafeteria, I spend some time with his mother and she tells me their story:
“Joshua comes here every year looking for people that he met from last year. We love World Changers and the church we used to attend would always support World Changers when they came into town. But I haven’t been able to part of that since Joshua’s dad died and I have had to take care of all his medical needs by myself. His condition is degenerative and he is going to need a lung and heart transplant. And though he is a little mentally delayed, he is such a little Casanova with the girls and loves to be around the boys because he misses his daddy.”
Our conversation went back and forth for a while and Joshua would come up to us from time-to-time so that he could bounce to a new adventure. Each time he was in reach, I would give him a high-five or ask him a question about his chair. His answers were quick and to the point because he had bouncing to do.
I left the cafeteria not knowing if I would see Joshua or his mother again. God knew.
Later that evening, I found a place to sit in the back of the auditorium that was serving as our worship venue for the week. Just so you are aware, all good Baptists sit in the back to make sure no one takes the Holy Spirit with them as they try to sneak out the back door. I had just got comfortable when I heard Joshua’s voice preceding the halting stop that his wheelchair came to right behind my seat. I looked over my shoulder and was pleasantly surprised to see that both he and his mother had joined us for worship.
Joshua quickly whispered something to his mother that I couldn’t make out and I could tell she wasn’t sure how to respond to Joshua. Her delayed response allowed him time to speak his request again, this time more loudly and clearly.
“I want to cuddle.” This statement became a request because he was motioning to his mother that I was to be the recipient of that cuddle.
It wasn’t hard to see that his mother was struggling with how to respond to Joshua, so I offered, “If its okay, I will hold him.” Those words were barely out of my mouth before he was crawling out of his chair and across the back of mine. He sat down in my lap, laid his head against my chest and said, “I want you to be my daddy.”
Heart-warming. Gut wrenching. I didn’t know how to respond. His mother saved me, “He can’t be your daddy, he has a wife and children of his own.”
Joshua didn’t sit still for very long. The next fifteen minutes was his time to entertain those of us at the back of the auditorium. He would bounce from lap to lap and try to bang people’s heads together. At one point, he was standing on the chair next to me facing back towards his mother and she used that opportunity to get onto him for moving around so much. He started to slide down the chair, to the seat of the chair, and eventually the floor. The whole time he was sliding he was saying in his best witch voice, “I’m melting!”
I can’t say for sure but I think he was stealing the hearts of all of us that were part of his displays that evening.
When he finally melted to the floor, he crawled underneath my legs and the legs of the teen aged boy beside me. He looked up and noticed where he was located and in a dramatic voice relayed the following statement:
“I better move before you guys pee on me.”
I have never heard that in a church service before. I doubt I will again. But this I can say, I wasn’t bothered in the least to hear it that night. Joshua broke down walls and left smiles. Before he left my lap for the final time that night, he leaned in and kissed me on the cheek.
There are several kids from Jersey that were heartbroken when Josh had to leave the following night to go to his next hospital appointment. I hope they read this and add some of their own stories about Joshua.
We all learned something valuable from him. In our desire to bless those around us, God sent a 6 year old to bless us. Our circumstances and station in life do not limit the capacity to impact someone else’s life in a positive way… especially, if we will just be who God is working in us to be.