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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Childhood (09/03/09)

TITLE: Bring on the hose, Lord
By Margaret Gass


They were covered in mud. All four of them. Head to toe. And not one of them seemed the least bit uncomfortable, or worried about getting in trouble--they just continued the very serious business of “playing.” Jessica watched from the window and tried hard not to laugh…she found it difficult to take pictures when she was laughing. Denise would have to help her get the kids inside, because Jessica wanted the mud outside. After taking the photos, Jessica took the hose and sprayed each child with an almost twisted delight--and then Denise scooped each one into the tub for the event of the night: a much-needed bath. Only after the kids were tucked away in their beds did the moms dissolve into giggles. Both were soaked clean through, and in need of baths, too, but the hot water was gone, along with any dry spots on the lawn, so Jessica and Denise sat on the kitchen floor and ate ice cream right out of the carton. Jessica’s husband wisely said not a word upon his arrival home, but left the two alone to talk about what had not yet been said.

Denise and her three young children had moved in with Jessica, Steve, and their son Robert because she had learned why her young daughter had “failed to thrive”…her husband had been sexually abusing the toddler since she was about three months old. The active, beautiful girl weighed just nineteen pounds, despite regular meals and trips to the doctor to find the cause of the infection that had ravaged her body for over eighteen months. The infection was caused by steer manure--Denise’s husband drove cattle trucks--and he hadn’t even bothered to wash his hands.

Denise’s world was shattered, her babies stained by a filth she feared would never come clean. She couldn’t voice her fears, even to her best friend, until God turned mud wrestling into a life lesson. He would wash the filth away, and guard her children’s innocence, even as He gave Denise the strength to move away and begin anew.

Jessica was left behind to wonder, too. It was hard not to ask “Why?” As she reflected on her own childhood, however, she realized that there was no “normal” childhood--normal was simply the childhood one had. For Jessica, that meant no father, or running from him, putting bottle caps on her grandparents homemade beer, leg braces and physical therapy, and a mom who worked long hours to make sure her girls had a better life. For Robert, it meant that Jessica stayed home to give him “normal”--Legos, Tonkas, and homemade cookies. It also meant trips to the hospital and ICU to visit severely ill grandparents. The visits were so routine that when the phone rang, Robert grabbed his pillow and “Bear” as if they were headed to church--and never once complained about sitting quietly in the hospital’s waiting room.

Now Robert was a young man…and his new girlfriend came with a four-year-old. As Jessica pushed aside concerns that he was too young to be an “instant dad,” Robert pushed forward into doing the job well. Jessica couldn’t help smiling as she watched her son patiently explain the “interrupt rule.” Normal wasn’t possible, but “healthy” was…and Robert wanted to make sure the young boy had boundaries, and all the blessings he had had--down to the flashcards Jessica had made him years ago. Gone was the mud of Robert’s teen years. Bring on the hose, Lord!

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This article has been read 486 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joy Bach 09/10/09
Wow! Intense! But oh so very real. You placed me right on the floor eating ice cream. It's too bad this is the way our world is today. Yeah for the parents who still talk about boundaries.
Sunny Loomis 09/12/09
Very well told story on a difficult subject. Thank you.
Allen Stark09/17/09
Ouch! People need to be more aware and do something about it. Some people deny because they can't deal with things.