The wonder of so many different sizes and shapes

The man who passed the baby to my arms, quietly said, “Dwarfism.” I’d noticed something different about the baby before, but didn’t put it together.

I saw it ncroppedow, his tiny body and his disproportionately large head. But the size of his head and proportions are not his most memorable features. His most memorable features are his dark brown eyes. They are mesmerizing and deeply soulful.

We locked eyes and his eyes searched mine. His gaze was deep, as though he was trying to convey a thousand thoughts, none of which I could decipher.

Well, one thought was clear. He didn’t care for the man who handed him to me. It was probably his loud voice. Or his deep laugh. Or his beard. In any case, the little guy preferred female company.

His parents are here somewhere among the families milling about, kids running, half-empty bowls of soup and paper plates. His dad had led worship in the church service earlier that Sunday morning. If you met the baby’s dad on the street, you might think he would be a good person to help you move furniture. Mom is average size. So are their other three children.

This one came in different packaging.

We spend a lot of time, money and energy idolizing, enshrining and striving for one certain style of physique and one narrow definition of beauty. In reality, every single one of us arrived, and will eventually grow, into infinite varieties of shapes and sizes, some fashioned a little more uniquely than others.

The baby’s parents are glad they live where they do, which is to say in an inner-city neighborhood littered with boarded-up windows, human brokenness and occasional gunfire. They are engaged in ministry to the poor. You might think they are somewhat crazy, but we cherish our somewhat crazy friends. They save us from succumbing to lives of bland white bread and homogenized everything.

There are many other children with disabilities in this neighborhood. So maybe this little one’s differences will be accepted more readily. Maybe his differences won’t be ridiculed quite as often.

One thing is sure—he’ll be surrounded by love here—love from a hundred different directions and sources.

His head is heavy and my arm is going to sleep now. I’d readjust my holding position, but it would mean risking the lock we have on one another’s eyes.

He’s not a baby you can sling on your hip. Even putting him up on your shoulder would be a tricky move. I wonder how she does it. Probably like any mother would, she has adapted to his weight distribution, his needs, his likes and dislikes and has a good idea as to what is going on behind those big brown eyes.

Surely, it will be hard for him to walk, I say to someone near. A voice answers that he has already pulled himself upright holding onto something.

Maybe he didn’t know it was supposed to be hard.

 

Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Contact her at lori@loriborgman.com

 

Are you a ‘fridge half-empty or half-full sort of person?

The husband noted that the refrigerator was bare again today.

He then noted that I had been awake a lot the night before.

CRXP09 almost empty fridge

He then came close to fulfilling some latent death wish by saying, “Have you ever considered that you might be one of those people who gets up and eats in the night without remembering it?”

I struggled to find a snappy comeback, but snappy is hard to come by when you’ve been awake most of the night.

I do have nights when I am awake a lot. In fact, I have so many that when an older man at church, a happily married man, mentioned that he’d been awake once an hour every hour the night before, I blurted out, “Call me!”

Inappropriate, yes, but we insomniacs are desperate to know we’re not alone.

That said, there is a reason we often have little food in the refrigerator and it is not because I have been grazing my way from the top shelf to the bottom crisper drawer in some state of semi-consciousness.

The refrigerator is often bare because we are in a rarely talked about phase of life that follows the Empty Nest phase of life. It is the “There’s-Nothing-to-Eat” phase of life.

It is a well-known fact that Old Mother Hubbard did not write that ditty about her cupboard being bare until after all her kids had left home.

When our kids were home, there were always three jugs of milk in the fridge, leftover chicken, a pasta something or other, two pizza boxes, fresh vegetables and fruit galore. Today, we open the ‘fridge and often are blinded by the glare of the light bulb.

My primary reason for opening the refrigerator is to check expiration dates and see what has gone bad. The job doesn’t take long when there’s not much in there.

Of course, when the kids, the kids’ spouses and the kids’ kids come over, there is plenty of food. The table will groan under the weight of all the food. And then when we are finished and there are tons of leftovers, I wrap ‘em, pack ‘em, seal ‘em and send it all home with the kids.

“Let me just pack this up for you. It will be perfect for your lunches next week.”

The husband agrees saying, “Take it, take it; it will just go bad here.”

“We insist,” I say. “You look thin. Have you had red meat lately?” If they still resist, we follow them out to the driveway, shove food through cracks in their car windows and wave goodbye.

If I succeed at doing a better job of stocking the ‘fridge for two, or holding onto some leftovers, and a bounty of wonderful things appear, I will most definitely get out of bed at 2 a.m. to eat. Why not? I’ll probably be awake.

Welcome to the lost and floundering

My idea of fun doesn’t include losing my wallet. It disappeared a few weeks ago.

Once we finally gave up the search, I bought a new wallet. It was oddly freeing— a fresh start. When I opened my old wallet you never knew what might fall out—gift cards, car wash coupons, random receipts and, on rare occasions, even money.

Now I can open my new wallet and know precisely what is in it. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. No credit card, no driver’s license, no insurance card, no Costco card, no library card, not even a trace of lint.

I notified all the credit card companies and even closed a few accounts permanently. The other credit card companies, the ones I still wanted cards from, promised to send new cards in a few weeks.

My next stop was a new driver’s license. I looked up the requirements for identification, found my passport and birth certificate and headed to the BMV. The wait wasn’t long and the clerk was cheerful. She was sympathetic to the story about my missing wallet. She zipped through the paperwork with amazing speed and said, “That will be $10.50.” I only had four one-dollar bills, so I handed her one of my husband’s credit cards that I had been using.

“I can’t accept this, it doesn’t have your name on it.”

“But it is an account I share with my husband. We both have cards to the same account.”

“Don’t you have any credit cards with your name on them?”

“I have a number of them – they’re in my wallet, the one that’s missing, along with my driver’s license.”

She gave me a look and called the next number.

On the walk out, I thought of the man they made a movie about who was stranded 17 years in the Charles de Gaulle Airport. He had the right paperwork to get in, but he didn’t have the right paperwork to get out.

It was a classic Catch-22, like the first furniture we bought after we were married. We had settled on a table and six chairs from a local furniture store. We wanted to charge it so we could establish credit. The store said they couldn’t extend us credit because we hadn’t established credit.

It’s like applying for a job to get some experience, but nobody wants to hire you because you don’t have experience.

It’s like the people who go around chirping, “You have to spend money to make money.” They never acknowledge that you need money before you can spend money.

I still didn’t have a driver’s license, credit cards or insurance cards, but I had four bucks in my new and much lighter wallet and wasn’t a prisoner in an airport or at the BMV.

And that is the key to happiness—remembering that when it’s bad, it can always be worse.

Words of the Year shy on letters

ISM CROPPEDOnce again, I got it wrong on the Word of the Year. Merriam-Webster announced that the most popular word of the passing year was the suffix “-ism.” Here I was hoping for a prefix, maybe something along the lines of “dis-“ or “mis-.” I even could have been happy with “re-.”

–ism isn’t actually a word you can use in a sentence or even start a sentence with (although I just did), but the Merriam Webster Word of the Year isn’t necessarily a word. Of course not. The Word of the Year is the “word” people most frequently look up at the m-w.com website. The list is quite telling, if not mildly frightening.

The most frequently looked up words included socialism fascism, racism, feminism, communism, capitalism and terrorism. Apparently a lot of people have been sleeping their way through history and philosophy. These are the same people who stumble over those man on the street interviews when asked who is buried in Grant’s Tomb. (Hint: starts with a “G” and ends with a “t.”)

Merriam-Webster selects the Word of the Year by keeping stock market-like charts noting the highs and lows of a word’s popularity. (“Oh no! Look at this, Fred! Fascism is down by 15 today!”)

Also hot on the Merriam-Webster market for 2015 was the word “hypocrite.” Hypocrite spiked when Josh Duggar was revealed to have been involved with Ashley Madison. Other people were looking up “hypocrite” in droves, while I was Googling Ashley Madison to see if it was a children’s clothing line or perhaps a brand of towels and bedding. I was wrong again on both counts, although Ashley Madison was closely linked to bedding but not in the way I had thought.

If you’re still having –isms over a suffix being selected as Word of the Year, you should know that Oxford Dictionaries chose an emoji as Word of the Year. EMOJIAn emoji is a variation of the old yellow happy face with an infinite variety of facial expressions. The winner is a round yellow ball laughing so hard it is crying. It is officially called “Tears of Joy.” Clever, no? Basically, Oxford Dictionaries, in an age of amazing technological, medical and scientific progress, chose the first cousin of a hieroglyphic as Word of the Year.

I like emojis. I consider them a good safety net for when we are all so mind-numbed that we return to communicating by drawing pictures on the walls of caves. It’s always good to have a backup plan. Or an extra –ism or two.