My eldest child is turning 12 at the end of the month. Andy is the first child of my infertility - a hard won battle at the end of three years of trying to conceive with medical intervention within our marriage. He was the child who I wept over, so grateful that God granted the wish of my heart. He should have had Clomid flowing through his veins, that son of mine. He weighed 10 lbs. 6 oz., and was the reason I was courageous enough, after months of trying, to finally inject myself with insulin the day before Mothers Day. His was the pregnancy that led to my diagnosis of diabetes. I promised the Lord, upon finding out that I was pregnant (with no fear of miscarriage because who ever has those?) that I would raise him to be a good boy and to serve the Lord and our community with all his heart to the best of my ability.
I've kept my end of the bargain. Andy's gentle and courageous personality is the better part of his father and I. I contributed my strong morals, personal courage and Andy's father, my first husband, contributed his artistic, compassionate heart and voice like an angel. Andy has made these traits his own, and continues to delight his whole family as his personality and talents unfold.
Yesterday we received by mail the results of the standardized testing for sixth graders. Andy consistently scored in the high 95-98th percentile in mathematics and averaged 93% in english language arts. I'm so proud of him. He had a substantial school workload last year as a new middle schooler and he kept his grades up.
Andy has show himself to be well-rounded in his hobbies and interests and how he spends his time. He plays the clarinet and is trying to learn the piano. He plays soccer and basketball at my request. When I began to falter a little in keeping up with all of our domestic chores while pregnant, Andy stepped up. He's 11 and nearly as tall as I am so I thought he might be good at milking. It's a twice a day position, so I imagined he could help once a day, and make it possible for me to get other remodeling and canning and gardening jobs finished. Sure enough, I made four batches of black raspberry jam and a couple of strawberry jam this week. Thanks Andy!
As scheduled, when school was out for the summer, I taught him to milk the goats. He took the job on and has diligently fulfilled the 10 minute milking job each morning and night without error or complaint. It took some time for the two dairy goats to get used to him and for him to feel assertive enough to back them down when they tried to bully him. He now notices when their water bucket is getting low and tosses hay in to them. It's nice to see him take on responsibility, as he turns 12.
As I went into the hospital this past Sunday for emergency surgery at the end of this pregnancy, I knew the goats were well taken care of, and that as Grandma watched the children, Andy was milking and filtering the milk. Then they all headed off to church.
July 30th is Andy's 12th birthday. In our religion he is eligible to become a member of the Aaronic priesthood and to be ordained a deacon. God gives priesthood authority to worthy male members of the Church so they can act in His name for the salvation of the human family. It is the priesthood authority by which John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus Christ, teaching faith, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins (Matthew 3:1-17; Mark 1:1-11). Aaronic Priesthood authority includes the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel, which is the gospel of repentance, baptism, and the remission of sins, and the administering of outward ordinances (D&C 84:26-27; 13:1; 107:14, 20).
You're probably wondering what a deacon is, or have a vision of older, stern looking men. In the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints a deacon is young. Worthy brethren may be ordained deacons when they are at least 12 years old. A deacon follows counsel, sets a good example, and may (1) pass the sacrament, (2) collect fast offerings, (3) care for the poor and needy, (4) be a standing minister appointed to "watch over the church" (D&C 84:111), (5) assist the bishopric, (6) serve as a messenger, (7) participate in quorum instruction, (8) serve in quorum leadership positions, (9) fellowship quorum members and other young men, (10) be baptized and confirmed for the dead, (11) speak in meetings, (12) share the gospel, (13) bear testimony, and (14) care for the meetinghouse and grounds.
That's quite a bit of responsibility at 12, but Andy has his bonus dad Martin to assist him and the rest of his family encouraging him and supporting him in his activities. Which means we'll help care for the meetinghouse and grounds with him. I wield a duster as well as anyone.
As I ponder all the good things Andy does and Andy has become internally, I ponder wanting to fulfill his birthday wish. Andy received a used Nintendo DS gaming system for his birthday last year. Being the oldest child and the one with the coolest electronics, he shared with his siblings. Despite their caution and his surveillance, the DS has broken. The games are now useless and he sweetly shared them with his sister Sarah who also received a DS from her father for her birthday in May. He hasn't complained that his sharing with his siblings resulted in the stress fractures on the DS and the left button wearing out. I picture his Sims all walking in circles to the right, to the right, to the right. He didn't complain. He made it funny. He merely asked me for glue when the plastic case broke.
Andy's father, my first husband, called a couple of weeks ago to cancel his trip out for Andy's birthday. It's the only week that the children see their father all year long, and they were emotionally distraught about it. A couple of weeks have passed and their emotions have eased, and my urge to headsmack an ex-husband has subsided. Mostly.
Martin had an idea, after seeing the children cry. Why don't we pay for a railroad ticket to get their father here for a few days? We're not a family of much means, but I figured with juggling things a bit and cutting back here and there I could do this. At the price of reducing what I have to spend on Andy's birthday. Martin's factory just ended Friday Furlough's two weeks ago. We're getting by very well, but frugally.
I was then reminded of the trip to Las Vegas that was taken from Chicago just last month. With stops in Utah and other parts for mini-family reunions. By the same father that now cannot afford a railroad trip of 12 hours to see his only children. Two hours after I returned from the hospital from having day surgery, that same ex-husband called me to get sympathy because he didn't feel very well. Which is why he doesn't work full-time, and hasn't for some 9 years now. Because he doesn't feel up to it. We will not be subsidizing his trip from Chicago to NY. If he really wants to make the trip he can work extra hours, or get a part time job, or do odd jobs or any of the number of things I was considering in how to pay for his trip. The children will see, sooner than I had hoped, their father's sense of entitlement, love of immediate gratification, and lack of sacrifice for his children. I'm sure none of it is his fault.
I'm off to the local Game Stop franchise to purchase a refurbished Nintendo DS, and an additional game, with the money I might have spent on a railroad ticket for a man who opts to work as little as possible. Our son will play his DS, share with his siblings again, and be rewarded for his hard work and diligence in his labors and responsibilities of this past year. And who knows, maybe son's good example will someday influence his father to complete his personal growth.
I'm so blessed to have Martin as a husband. He is a good, hard working, fine example of service and diligence to all of our children. He's kind and considerate and praiseworthy. It was his idea to invite my first husband to come and stay with us the summer we married so Reed would have an opportunity to see his children. Small wonder that Martin retains custody of his children from his first marriage. I'm still amazed by Martin's kindness.
I feel richly rewarded by having a sweetheart who loves me and tenderly cares for me. I feel richly blessed by having a warm and wonderful son, Andy, who makes us so very proud of him because of his strength of character and his personal choices each day. Happy 12th Birthday Andrew Reed. I promise not to come to Boy Scout Camp on your birthday and deliver your birthday kiss in front of your troop. Really. Nor call you my beloved Andybear in front of anyone wearing khaki. Pinkie promise.