Some Thoughts on Confirmation Day

Moose’s Confirmation Day is rapidly approaching. I only wish that everyone in our congregation could know how hard he has worked to make it to this point.

I have some experience in the confirmation department, starting with the fact that I remember how much work my own confirmation classes, even though they were over 20 years ago now, were. I remember the sermon reports and memory work and service projects and classes…and I remember how much we complained about doing it all.

I have taught confirmation to two different grade levels at two different churches, as well. I got to hear the complaints about how much work it was, and how unfair it was that I expected so much, from the teacher’s point-of-view.

And more recently, I’ve helped four of my five children work their ways through a two-year catechesis program at our church. I have seen them each work, and sometimes struggle, and occasionally complain themselves as they went through the process.

I have never seen a student work as hard as Moose has.

When Turkey and Bunny began catechesis in 2010, at ages seven-and-a-half and six, respectively, it wasn’t without its challenges, mostly in the form of sermon reports. Their work was all over the place, literally and figuratively, and every week, I would sit down with them after church, and help them untangle their notes so they could turn in a completed sermon report that was both legible and coherent. Catechesis with children of such a young age is an adventure, but extra rewarding in its own way.

Ladybug had her own struggles when she began catechesis at age seven-and-a-half, again in the area of sermon reports. This time, the difficulty was mostly due to her dyslexia, and while her thoughts were fairly well-organized, her handwriting and spelling, especially at the beginning, were rough, although she worked really, really hard at it.

Moose actually tried to start catechesis with Ladybug in 2014, but he just wasn’t ready. So instead, he began his first year of class in 2015, just before he turned 10. He has had to fight every step of the way. The memory work, that came so easily to my other children, has been a major struggle for him. I think this is partly because I have always required the memorization of Bible verses, hymns, and poems in my homeschool, so the concept of memorizing the catechism was nothing new to his siblings. Moose, however, has never been required to do any memorization like that at his school, so it does not come naturally. And for someone who has struggled with speech, ever since he learned to speak, the physical act of saying the memory work has also been a huge challenge. He is determined, though, and has kept at it every week, even when it frustrated him (and to be honest, me as well, sometimes),  and has faithfully said it every Thursday.

Sermon reports have been challenging for him in ways that were different from how they challenged his siblings. The physical act of writing isn’t easy for Moose, even though he has very nice handwriting and excellent spelling, and trying to keep up with a sermon is very difficult for him. Staying focused on one thing for so long, when there is so much else to look at in church, is also a huge challenge. Our pastor very kindly found a new kind of sermon report form partway through catechesis that made keeping up with them much easier for Moose, and he works very hard to fill one out most Sundays, but it still isn’t easy for him.

Even the act of attending catechesis has sometimes been a huge challenge. Neurotypical children struggle with paying attention to one more thing in the afternoon or evening following a long, often exhausting, day of school. Multiply that by, I don’t know, a zillion, and you can begin to understand how it has been for Moose. School can be an overwhelming place…bright, oftentimes loud, and draining socially. And then to go almost immediately to catechesis, where he has to continue to focus, and especially on days where he has things like book reports and standardized tests hanging over his head…I really wish there was a way for people to understand how draining that has been for him, but how diligent he has been in spite of it. There have been days where I’m not really sure he’s been paying attention in class (although he almost always is), and days where I’m sure he’d rather be anywhere else, but he has never complained about going. In fact, he always wants to make sure we get to church early, because he can’t stand the thought of being late to class.

So I wish that when he stands up there on April 2, in front of our congregation, and confirms his faith, and receives the Sacrament of the Altar for the first time, everyone in the church could know how hard he’s worked; how much harder it has been for him than for any other child I’ve ever known. I wish they could appreciate his dedication to studying the Catechism, and to doing all the things he needed to do. I want them to know how important doing this has been to him…he simply wouldn’t have done it at all if it wasn’t.

Confirmation Day, on April 2, falls on World Autism Awareness Day. This is a departure from our church’s regular Confirmation Day on Palm Sunday. There were scheduling conflicts that pushed it up a week, and I can only assume that God had a hand in that, and did it for Moose…allowing his Confirmation Day to fall on his day, a day where we already celebrate who he is because of and in spite of autism.

Chickadee Thursday

Another one of Chickadee’s favorite things about going to catechesis with Moose on Thursday afternoons is erasing the white board after class is over. She is very proud of herself for helping, even though she can barely reach the whole board, even with the help of a chair!

Over the weekend, we stopped at Target, and Chickadee had to take a picture with Lego Batman. She is a huge fan of Batman, and Lego, so this movie is tailor-made for her…she can’t wait to see it! In the meantime, she has an awful lot of “Batitude!”

Mercy at Walmart

This evening I decided to stop at Walmart.

I know. I should have my head examined. Here we are, with an ice storm warning set to begin tomorrow, and last for over 48 hours, and I picked Walmart of all places to shop at. The best part is, I didn’t truly need anything. There were, however, a few things I wanted to pick up, and I knew Walmart was the only place I could find them.

So, Turkey and Moose and I went to Walmart after catechesis. It was as you would expect. The parking lot was a nightmare, there were few carts to be found, the snack and soda aisles were pretty much wiped clean, and the only thing that saved the milk coolers from the same fate was the fact that they were actively being restocked. The aisles were all backed up with carts, and there were traffic jams everywhere.

And then we got to the checkout lines.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen them that bad, not even at Christmas. There were plenty of lines open, but they were all long. Fortunately, the shoppers, at least in the line we ended up in, were pretty good-natured, and we even had a nice conversation with the gentleman in front of us as we waited.

This was all a bit too much for Moose, however. It was the end of a long day for him, after school and catechesis. And our stopping meant dinner was going to be late, and even though he was prepared for it ahead of time, that didn’t mean he was too happy about it. Plus, Walmart on a quiet day is bright and loud and overwhelming, to say nothing of Walmart before a St. Louis Weather French Toast Event. So he was acting a bit squirrely by the time it was our turn to put our items on the belt and pay.

He was trying his best to help with the bagging process, but it wasn’t really working. And I was trying to just get him to stand still, out-of-the-way, so the checker could do his job as efficiently as possible.

I guess he must have sensed my concern, because the cashier, who was a fairly young man, very deliberately made eye contact with me. And with more mercy than I’m used to hearing, he said, “It’s OK. I don’t mind at all. Really.”

I was stunned. There was something about his tone, and the way he looked at me, that made me wonder if he had personal experience with autism. Maybe a younger brother, or a friend. And I wish I had stopped to tell him how much his kindness meant to me, but I was still flustered, and still hoping that we weren’t holding things up for the people behind us, so I didn’t. But it one of those moments that I won’t forget. That night before the ice storm, when an unlikely person showed me some much-needed mercy.

Happy Birthday Moose!

Today is Moose’s eleventh birthday!!!

Despite the fact that he has three days off of school this week, he had to go to school today. So we waited until after school to open presents…luckily, Wednesday is early dismissal day! He was very excited about his new Lego sets…especially the police station, a set he’s wanted for a long time. He has already assembled it, and put it on display with the fire station he received in 2013!

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For his birthday cake this year, Moose requested a s’mores cake. Because I’ve never actually made one before, I had to do a little searching to find the right recipe…he loved it, so I guess I was successful!

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It is so hard for me to believe that Moose is 11 already…the years are slipping by so fast. I’m so proud of him, and today, especially today, I’m very glad to have a chance to celebrate him, and the amazing young man he is!

Chickadee Thursday

Chickadee is really in the Olympic spirit. She loves gymnastics and has been having a great time coming up with her own “floor routines!”

Even though the rhythmic gymnastics competition hasn’t been held yet, we got a sneak peek of the ribbon at the gymnastics gala, and Chickadee has really been having fun making up performances with the ribbon I bought this summer:

And she had to show off her “gold medal” by our medal chart:

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Even with all of that fun, I think the highlight of her day was Moose coming home from his first day of fifth grade!

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The First Day of Fifth Grade

It is almost unbelievable to me, but today is Moose’s first day of fifth grade.

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He was reluctant to leave this morning…it was very hard for him to say goodbye to summer vacation. Hopefully, it won’t take him too long to get back into his school routine, and remember that he does actually like it!

Kantorei Kamp 2016

The children had another amazing week at the Kantorei Kamp at Hope Lutheran Church in St. Louis! They had the opportunity to pray Matins every morning, and Responsive Prayer every afternoon. They had a lot of fun singing, as well as playing handbells and various percussion instruments. They also participated in the Music Olympics, went swimming, and sang at both Concordia Seminary and the LC-MS International Center on Friday, and at the Divine Service at Hope this morning.

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This past year of singing with Hope’s Kantorei has been such a wonderful experience for them. They’ve learned so much about music, and they’ve made some good friends. Kantorei Kamp may have just ended, but they’re already looking forward to starting their next season of singing!