Ever Try to Sing A Duet by Yourself?

Sketch singing his heart out.

Me either.  It seems kind of, well…not possible.  Or is it?

The boys probably don’t think it is such a crazy idea.  Well, maybe they haven’t sung a duet by themselves, but they have done things like it.

For example, when Dash (age 9, Autism, ADHD) was a toddler, he loved to play a Peek-a-Boo game called, “Who’s under the blanket?” , but not in the standard way.   For this game, there is supposed to be several kids, and one is covered with a blanket. The other kids are supposed to guess which child is under it.  Dash just loved this game when we’d play it as a family. After he learned the game, we caught him more than once, sitting by himself covered in a blanket singing the song, “Who’s under the blanket?, Who’s under the blanket?, Who’s under the blanket? Can you guess who it is?” and then pull his blanket off, surprising….himself?

And he’d smile and giggle and it was “oh so cute!”

Except…

Dash attached the enjoyment, the positive emotional charge he got from playing the game with us, to the game itself.  He love the game so much initially because he shared it with us.  It was the relationship,  lifted voices shouting in unison, “It’s Dash!” , the facial expressions and goofy smiles he saw when the blanket was lifted.  It was the shared experience that was responsible for the enjoyment of the game.  But he misdirected that fun-factor and attached it to the blanket and the game instead of us.

He thought he could recreate the fun he had all. by. himself.

And he tried, and tried and tried. I think he did recreate some of the fun by the memory of what happened the first time.  But he didn’t consider that he could have more fun, more of the same kind of fun,  different but just as fun experiences by playing the game with other people… in the context of a relationship.

Our “normie” (that is Quirky and Laughing‘s word for NT or neurotypical or typically developing) daughter, Princess Buttercup (twin to Dash) used to do a similar thing.

We had a friend who would come and take Princess out to do fun things, so she wouldn’t feel so left out when in-home supports staff would come and take Dash places.

When our friend would ask Princess what she wanted to do, she would always say she wanted to do exactly what she did the last time when they went out, and in the same order.

She just couldn’t imagine having as good a time doing something different, as she did doing what she already knew.  Princess had attached the fun-factor to the activities they did, instead of to spending time with another person…the relationship.

That one may be easier for us “normie’s” to relate to, but both the kids misdirected the love to something other than purely the person.  Don’t get me wrong, Princess Buttercup did love the person who was taking her out, but she still thought she had to recreate previous experiences to have maximum fun.

Isn’t that what we do with God?  We either seek after the things he gives us: gifts like blankets and games.  Or, we try to recreate a series of events in order to experience again a recent awesome experience with God, thinking that we can’t have another one like it unless we follow that same formula.  Do we put God in a box like that?

I wonder how often we become ritualistic or legalistic, dare I say “religious” in the things we do, instead of doing things because of our relationship with God.  We go to church, we worship, we read our Bibles, we participate in acts of service… but are we doing it out of habit? Do we do it because we were doing those things the last time we “experienced” God?  Or, do we do it because we so desire to spend time with the God who desperately loves us…do we serve because of the desire to share with others the awesome gifts the Father has imparted to us?

Have we misdirected our love, like Dash and Princess and taken it out of the context of relationship?

I wonder… just how often do we try to sing a duet by ourselves?

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Psalm 63:1 “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you , in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”

Sensory Overload

We just returned from our first visit to a local amusement park. After Tuesdays’ adventures we were a bit hesitant, but since we were given tickets as a Christmas gift, and they were only good for the current season, we decided we better try it before they expire. We were pretty sure that the twins would have a blast, but Sketch was the big question mark.

Once we were in the middle of the park, with rides in action all around us, Sketch became quite panicked. He was completely overwhelmed at all the flying objects around him. I could almost hear his thoughts through his expression of sheer terror and hands covering his ears (and as much of his head as possible), “Mommy! Watch out! The trains are flying though the air! What is going on? It is going to get us! Come over here, Mommy! It isn’t safe! That awful noise is too loud! What does it mean? I think it means danger. Mommy, come! Now!”

And for a little 5 year old boy who has never seen anything like a roller coaster, or any other amusement park rides, it was pretty overwhelming. I mean, why wouldn’t that coaster fly off the tracks suspended in figure 8’s high in the sky? How is he supposed to know that the coaster is attached to the tracks? How can he understand the laws of physics that are at work, or the engineering done to make it safe? For most kids, they probably just take it for granted, that the coaster is “stuck” to the tracks and that it is safe.

Needless to say, Sketch did not go on the roller coaster. But, he did go on some of the kiddie rides. His first was a little contraption somewhat like a merry-go-round that was disguised as whales swimming in the water. Princess Buttercup had the honor of sitting with Sketch on his very first ride. Sketch was in front of the whale car and Princess Buttercup was in the back seat of the same one. The ride began, and the whales spun in a circle (relatively slowly) around and around. For more than half the ride, Sketch didn’t look so good…he was looking..a bit… woozy? He called for me as he went around, I could see his lips form the word, “Mommy?” as he looked at me outside the gate.

He was very brave though. He walked in the gate with Princess Buttercup and didn’t require me to come with him, although he obviously preferred it. The ride seemed to last forever for Sketch. Toward the end of the ride he seemed to be getting comfortable with it and started signing to himself and singing songs. He even smiled. Then the ride was over. Sketch came out and wanted to go again! We showed him another ride where the kids could sit in a gigantic tea cup and spin in tight circles like a sit-n-spin, as the contraption moved around like a merry-go-round. Sketch got on with Dash & Princess Buttercup and the twins made sure to maximize the spin-factor… But, Sketch handled it well and wanted to ride it again!

I think over all, he decided that this new scary stuff is actually more fun than scary. Trying new things is not what Sketch is known for. But his curiosity and those colorful, fun-looking, lit up rides convinced him to try it. What was initially a complete sensory overload became a huge blessing for him. At the end of the day, he was not too happy to leave the park behind in exchange for his well-known bed.

Sometimes God has something new for us, and it looks overwhelming. Unsafe, even. We may find ourselves thinking, “We might get hurt if we do that!” We don’t understand how it all works, but God has it all planned out. Once we step out in faith, and get on the ride, we discover a treasure we never would have known about. A treasure we now cannot imagine living without. Often stepping into the unknown involves vulnerability. We may not fear flying off the coaster tracks, but fear being hurt emotionally by other people. But stepping out and experiencing that treasure of relationships, by serving and loving others like Jesus did, opens the door to a whole different perspective on the world that we won’t want to exchange for the way things have been, in the safety of our routine. It is a sensory overload experience that turns into a blessing we will never forget.

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