It happens nearly every time I give the boys a bath.
Lovence and Laurentz spend 30 minutes laughing, splashing and playing make believe – Laurentz lines up his plastic animals and squirts them with water, Lovence takes his toy trucks and gives them a thorough washing before driving them up and down the edge of the tub. Then we condition hair, wash up all the important parts and they climb out of the tub, one at a time, to get on lotion and jammies.
I’m not sure why it happens then, maybe because Lovence (our non-verbal, special needs son) feels safe in that vulnerable moment, but it’s then that he will hit the counter and then look at me. It’s the same thing, the same routine every time.
He hits the counter. He shakes his hand and scowls, pretending he’s hurt, “Ow!”
I look at the counter and sternly reprimand it. “Don’t you do that! Don’t mess with my boy!”
Lovence laughs his deep belly laugh. We both look at the counter and then he nearly says it. “Gettouttahere!” as he points in the other direction. “Get out of here!” I say. “Don’t ever hurt my boy again!”
Lovence smiles and wraps his arms around me, burying his head in my shoulder.
Smack the counter. “Ow…” in his low guttural voice.
I jump in. “Hey counter, stop it! Don’t mess with my boy!”
Laugh, laugh, laugh.
“Getouttahere!” He says.
“Yeah, get out of here!” I say.
Laugh, laugh, laugh. Bury head in my shoulder.
It brings tears to my eyes. Lovence has known trauma. He’s been hurt in ways I can’t begin to imagine. And in those little moments after bath time, in those sweet connections, I am there in his memories. I’m stepping in and saying “No! Don’t you dare mess with my boy!”
And he is grateful.
While I am humbled.
I remember my mom talking with someone who had experienced huge trauma in her childhood. “Take Jesus back to that memory. Imagine him there. What would he have done?”
“He would have taken me by the hand and got me out of there,” She said in a trembling voice, “He would have brought me to a safe place.”
“Can you let him do that now?” My mom said. “Let him take that little girl out of that pain, away from that memory. He will ultimately make all things right, He will exact justice. But will you let him take you by the hand and make it right for you now?”
Because He does that with us. “Ow…” our hearts say. Low, Gutteral. Hurt.
“Get out of here!” He says. To the pain, to the loss, to the abuser, to the destructive memories. And He wraps his arms around us.
And our healing comes. Because our defender is near. We tuck our head into his shoulder.
And finally, we laugh.