Monday, December 16, 2013


VIG-I-LANT: alertly watchful especially to avoid danger

VIG-I-LANCE: 1. the act, state or quality of     being vigilant

            2. the abnormal state or condition of being unable to sleep 

I've been wanting to share about vigilance for a long time now.  It's the perfect word to describe my E; the way he carries himself throughout the day, how he appears when he with a group or even his family, and absolutely how he looks when he is "sleeping" at night.
We've been especially vigilant lately because we've had a birthday, Thanksgiving and now the holiday season.  The fun Christmas activities, changes in routine and even sounds, smells and sights send lots of little ones into an oblivion.  For my E, all the "fun" equates to lousy RAD behavior, lack of sleep, and crazy uncoordinated large motor skills (he fell down a flight of stairs TWICE Saturday, he fell UP THE STAIRS yesterday. Thank God he is made of rubber.).  
Hearing the word vigilant, I used to envision a poor teenage babysitter, late at night, getting prank calls and being hypersensitive to the creaks and moans of the house.  Or maybe the gal walking alone through an abandoned parking lot.  Then, about 2 years into living with it, I began to recognize that my son is  vigilant.  Sometimes it is to what everyone else in the room is putting in their mouth.  Other days, he's vigilant to every sentence that Ryan and I pass between us ("Mom! Wait! Did you just say that there will be whale at Sunday school tomorrow?").  It's super annoying and sad for us but for our boy, it has got to make him exhausted in general.  Think about how you feel at the end of a suspenseful movie.  The story has resolved and you naturally relax your muscles and exhale.  And feel pretty tired, right?  
The part that gets me is that my E is a kid.  He's never seen a horror movie.  He's never left alone and no one has left him out of anything in four years.  Yet still.  Before my E came home, he had the experiences and visceral emotions to shape him to be alert.  On standby.  Ready for fight or flight.  All the time.  Yuck.  How can that not break my heart?  
It's just a word, not a label.  A window into his actions, if you will.  So when you see my son in the coming days, give him some grace.  He's asking what you just drank because he wants a drink too.  If you hear him interrupting and pushing his way in, he doesn't want you to forget him.  When you see him rubbing his eyes with his fists and falling down all over the place, don't forget that last night he hit his head on the wall , wet the bed, then awoke before the sun.  
I am trying to remind myself of this too.  When I want to hit him for dumping water on Molly's friends or sneaking into the bathroom when I'm peeing, I will phone a friend for prayer.  This isn't his fault despite how long it has been.  As much as we tell him over and over and over again that he is home.  He has a family.  Forever.  There aren't words to reason away fear of being hurt, both physically and emotionally.  You can't rationalize with someone that has been wounded.  That's that whole "actions speak louder than words" thing.  
So I tried something new last night when I was tucking him in.  I made him repeat after me.
"My mommy and daddy love me."  Repeat. As he said the words, I squeezed him tight and prayed that God would deliver him now.
"No matter what I do, my family won't ever leave me." Repeat, kisses, hugs, pray. Repeat. 
"I'm not an orphan. I am a child of the one true King."  Repeat, hug, squeeze, pray. 


  1. Wow, this is very insightful and is a little window in to some of my son's behaviours. In no way do we struggle to the extent that Etienne does, but thanks to your insight I can put a word to my son's behaviour around food and people. Thanks for that nugget...I can't wait to share your blog post with my husband (a little light bulb just went on over my head).

  2. thank you for this. this vigilance makes me crazy...and, honestly, feel like i'm being stalked all day. it's nice to know i'm not alone...