This is Matthew James.
Try for a minute to ignore the striking similarity he holds to some random kid on the back of a milk carton. In our family of twelve Matthew is the kid who, on a pretty regular basis, steals the show. It seems like he was meant to in an odd sort of way right from his start. Some of you out there might know that when Fred and I married a long time ago, Fred like the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. Unlike King, Fred wasn't looking for any type of equality or holding high aspirations for the nations. In fact Fred's dream was of the simpler sort, it only involved the people in his direct circle of influence ( that would be yours truly). Fred wanted sons. And not just any indiscriminate amount of sons mind you. He wanted seven. Yes ladies and gentlemen you heard that right.
In a row.
Somehow way back when, he had heard there was an Irish blessing attached to having seven sons. No one ever had to tell him that they had to be seven in a row, he knew that instinctively. It made no difference to him that this wasn't written down anywhere, that it wasn't attributed to anyone of greatness, a mere statistic for which the probability was close to impossible. Fred wanted seven sons.( The daunting task this presented before me we'll save for another day but I will tell you, I am grateful that like my Aunt Helen, I think little boys are just terrific. )
Most people scoffed at him. Fred's dream persisted. Some folks were intrigued by his whole notion of this blessing and followed along closely over the years to keep track. A mathematician calculated for us at pregnancy number 5 what our probability of these events ever occurring were if it were as simple as flipping coins. The formula goes as you may recall like this:
Probability of success on a single trial.50
Number of trials 7
Number of successes (x)7
Binomial Probability: P(X = 7) 0.0078125
For those of us who are mathematically challenged that would be 1 out of 128. Of course the variables when dealing with human persons and their creation are a bit more complex than a simple heads or tails formula, but it’s a good start any way.
With every male birth to our family, the chuckles died down a bit more and folks were forced to ponder if indeed Fred had truly asked for this unique blessing; and even more amazingly was he actually being granted it?
Andrew came first followed soon after by Peter. John- Paul, then Matthew, Joseph, Thomas, and finally Michael, our long awaited seventh son. The three little girls we next incurred have radically altered my husband’s view of the world along with their 7 older brothers. But let’s get back to the topic of the post which was number 4, Matthew James.
Matthew came to us after 2 miscarriages and many prayers. I had an epidural during his labor making it my only pain free birth, and I have been paying for it ever since. I suffered postpartum depression (hellish experience); He was born tongue tied, and asthmatic. When Matthew was about 7 he contracted Lyme’s disease and it went misdiagnosed long enough to cause some complications in his health and learning. He has a speech impediment, is dyslexic and dysgraphic and a pretty bad temper on top of all of it. As a mother I have worried and worked on this child in a fashion the good St Monica would be proud of.
I tell you the above not to gain sympathy dear reader, but rather to point out how these difficulties have helped to shape one of the most interesting people I have ever encountered in my life. Everyone says it. There is just something about Matthew. He wins people over in a heartbeat. He is rough and tough and all boy. He struggles with just about everything and yet he keeps on going. Of all my children he is the most compassionate. He has a wonderfully funny sense of humor and a surprisingly quick mind. He thinks outside of the box, all of the time.
He announced to me a few weeks ago ( just days after his birthday) that he intended to save every penny he made this year or that was sent to him to see how much he could earn in one full year at his age. I knew once he got an idea in his head he was certain to carry it out and so I smiled to myself wondering just how much he would come up with in 12 months.
Last week we went grocery shopping to Aldi’s (my new favorite place to save money). Matthew accompanied me as he usually does. He found me in the middle of a row and held up a 24 pack of canned soda. I told him I was not buying it and he should put it back. He grimaced and returned 30 seconds later with a 12 pack and slid it under the cart. I again stated I was not purchasing soda. He answered saying “I am going to use my own money to buy it.” And then he waited for a response. I wanted to say “Hey I thought you were saving all your money this year?” While sticking out my tongue at him simultaneously-but I didn’t. Instead I simply said “I think that’s a poor use of your money, but it is yours, so you can spend it how you like.” It did genuinely surprise me that he had given up the notion of saving every penny but, after all he is just eleven years old.
At the checkout I informed him that the girl had already added it to my bill and he could just give me the cash. He forked over the 2 bucks which I slipped into my pocket. He held out his hand and said “you owe me a penny.” It was my turn to grimace as I groped for the change. And home we went.
Last night Joseph my 8 year old asked me if he could borrow a dollar. “What for?” said I.
“One of Matt’s sodas.” Came the reply.
Turns out Matty decided saving his money wasn’t quite good enough. He wanted to do one better. He started his own business selling cold soda’s to his older brothers for 50 cents a can. And get this - they’re buying it. He has already made a profit.
Sometimes I think God send challenges in the form of learning disabilities and the like just to slow some people down from turning the whole joint we live in upside down.
And as Matthew's mother all I can really say is: Go Matt go!