Tag Archives: Graham

Graham and the Hermit-Man

“Mama, I’m so worried I’m gonna gwow up to be a hermit-man and never have fwiends and never leave my house.” 

This started a 5 hour obsession with becoming a hermit. Tears, constant questions, and incessant reassurance that he would never become a hermit. 

“HOW DO YOU KNOW? You can’t know! You don’t know mine future!”

“Graham, if you try to become a hermit, Daddy and I will stop you. We will get you out of your house.”

“What if you ares dead? You aren’t gonna live fowever, Mama!”

“Bess will not allow you to become a hermit.”

“What if all mine family is dead? What if all mine fwiends are dead? What if I CAN ONWY BECOME A HERMIT?”

“Graham, that is not going to happen.”

“IT MIGHT! You don’t know mine future!”

And it went on for hours. And I gave him rational answers. I gave him Scripture. I asked for help from God to deal with the barrage of hermit-man-related questions. 

And as we were praying at bedtime for God to protect Graham from a life as a hermit, he looked at me and said, “It could happen. Dey are weal. People choose to be all alone and have no fwiends and become hermit-people. What den?” And I said, “Then it happens. And you figure out how to not be one. You pray, ask your family and friends for help, and you move through it.” 

And he was content with that answer. 

We can’t get those minutes back. The Hermit-Man tears can’t be uncried. 

And then it hit me in the face. 

I am Graham and the Hermit-Man. 

My ‘what ifs’ aren’t as far-fetched, but I’m a 6-year-old crying in God’s lap. “What if we get pregnant again and we lose that baby, too? It happens. It happens to lots of people!” And God says, “Then it happens. And we figure it out. You talk to me…I’m always here…and you ask your family and friends for help. And you move through it.” 

Photo credit

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Graham Reviews “The Secret Life Of Pets” (Contains Spoilers! It’s Mostly Spoilers.)

“I went to see Da Secwet Life of Pets wif Mema, Aunt Kita, DJ, Jasmine, and Annaliese. 

It’s about a dog named Duke who has a good home when he was a puppy, but den his guy dies. But he doesn’t know he’s dead. So a lady gets Duke, but she’s alweady got Max. Max wants to help Duke find da guy dems don’t know is dead. Dey gotta have a weason to leave da house cuz da lady is always working. I don’t know her job. I don’t fink it matters to da story. But Max and Duke eat sausages from a sausage factory and da bad bunny is doing bad fings, but turns good at da end. I don’t want to ruin da movie, but Duke goes back to Max’s house to live. Da owner isn’t old, but she isn’t a kid. She’s just a lady who works. I don’t fink we knows lots about her. It’s mostly about da pets and all da fings dey do. It was a long movie, but I liked it. Mostly cuz I got to eat at a restaurant when we was done.

If I was gonna get a pet, I would tell him his old owner was dead so he wouldn’t run away. But dat’s how movies go. You gotta have pwoblems to solve. Now I’m gonna sing for you da Mario 3 underground song. It goes like dis: ticka-ticka-ticka <proceeds to sing the entire song>. But Mario 1 goes more like uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh <proceeds to sing the entire song>. Let’s talk about how dey are diffwent and alike.”

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Internet Usage and the IFC

Press Release:
It has been quite some months since the last meeting of the Imaginary Friend Council. Several members were inducted in late 2015 and early 2016, but few issues were brought to the table. 

Until this week.

The IFC called an emergency meeting today on Graham’s bed. As he stood atop his headboard, surveying the angry mob, the mother peeked through a crack in the door. The entire Council is outraged over the Ballews limited Internet usage. 

Mario, Luigi, and Red Bird blame the mother. She has limited streaming video to only Standard Definition shows. High Definition (HD) programming is only allowed during special Family Nights. 

The IFC wants to watch more YouTube tutorials about passing Mario 2 levels. They have pleaded, through Graham, for unlimited access. Their petition called for “as many hours and days dat we want to watch ovver people play and talk about Mario 2” and an addendum was added about Strawberry Shortcake movies, which the mother says are non-negotiable. One viewing uses the allotted streaming Internet for the entire day. She is also disturbed by the Pie Man and his dream plot. She claims it’s unsettling. 

The heads of the Ballew household have tried to explain to Graham and the IFC about the Internet caps, but there is still daily unrest. Just today, the mother overheard Graham say he was going to “get a wocketship to da Moon, cuz dat’s just da way life works to get more YouTube shows” and then he pumped his fist in the air as the IFC chanted “No More DVDs! We want more Mario 2 levels!”

It appears that neither side will budge, with the mother saying “I’m not paying an extra $10 a month to watch someone else play Mario!” Then she drank some Diet Coke, which seemed to calm her nerves. But the IFC has already called a meeting for mid-Thursday morning to revisit discussions about never brushing teeth again until demands are met. 

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Grahamism | Hard Things

We were snuggled under his favorite blanket. It’s a soft fleece covered with woodland creatures. A Christmas gift from my mom, because the theme in Graham’s room is No Theme. Monsters, robots, Angry Birds, dinosaurs, VeggieTales, trains, animals, Mario.  He just fills it with things he loves. 

Yes, there are too many things. We’re working on that, but finding the middle ground between allowing him absolute freedom and rushing in there with trash bags while he’s at Great Grandma’s house. We want to respect his need to keep certain things, while teaching him that we don’t need to keep everything. We desire to give him the tools he needs to be better than things and consumerism and materialism. But we can’t control him either. He’s a little person growing into a bigger person. Not our little robot who needs a perfect room to make us feel great when friends come over. 

We were snuggled up really close, after a wonderfully long week of VBS and his best friend’s birthday party. Dave had already gone over his teeth. I was about to finish bedtime prayers. Graham always starts and then asks me to wrap it up with anything he’s missed. Apparently I’m a mind reader. 

“Mama, life is too hard sometimes.”

“What in your life feels too hard right now?”

“Well, sometimes we gotta do hard fings. Fings dat are way too hard for us to do alone. I wish we had no hard fings in life.”

“Hard things make us better people. Hard things teach us patience, waiting, courage, perseverance, and trusting that God is always there to help us. And Jesus did lots of hard things. Doing hard things makes us more like Jesus.”

“Well, my hard fing is too hard even for God. It’s just too hard. It’s Capture Da Flag. I’m hurr-ible at it. At Thatcher’s party, I couldn’t even do it. I prayed to God to give me Capture Da Flag skills wight away, but it didn’t happen. I fink I’m gonna have to pwactice  and get better from hard work. I just want life and Capture Da Flag to be easy sometimes. Life is too hard to be bad at Capture Da Flag, too. I wanna be a better person, but I weally just wanna be gweat at Capture Da Flag! It’s so uh-portant in life.”

“Do you want me to pray that you will have the strength and patience to practice Capture the Flag?”

“Yes. And pway dat I also just wake up better at it. Jesus healed da blind man. He can give me sport skills, too.”

I prayed it. Then kissed Graham’s cheek that was clean from bathtime and showed no evidence of my lackluster attempt at ‘Blue Monster Guy’ facepainting. He kissed my cheek. We exchanged “I Love Yous” and I tripped over 17 things on my way out. Each item holding great significance to my 6.75-year-old favorite boy. 

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Grahamism | Independence Day

“Graham, do you remember what we’re celebrating?”

“America guys signed da…….”

“Declaration of-”


“Because they wanted-”

“Fweedom to fight wars, pay all da taxes, and eat chips!”

Close enough for now.

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Getting Dressed

Graham and Bess choose their own clothes and dress themselves. It makes everyday a wonderful adventure. An adventure that has us in the fashion police’s radar gun crosshairs on a bi-weekly basis…

and I absolutely love it. 

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Grahamism | Spaghetti

A family of five is traveling in a minivan. They’ve just been to a zoo, and are now traveling home via scenic routes. One daughter is fussing. The other has fallen asleep. A boy and his parents are enjoying the drive down the Strip.

Graham: (shouting toward the front of the van) “Daddy, what does dat sign say?”

Dave: (turning to address Graham) “It says Pasghettis. It’s a restaurant.”

G: (quietly) “You mean spaghetti?”

Lyndse: (whispers to Dave, while keeping her eyes on the slow-moving cars directly in front of them) “Did he just say spaghetti correctly?”

D: (laughing) “He corrected my pasghetti.”

L: (bewildered and chuckling) “No, he doesn’t say spaghetti. He just said pasghetti last week.”

D: “Well, now he says spaghetti.”

L: (speaking loudly toward the third row seating, while keeping careful watch of the SUV braking erratically) “Graham, what do you call noodles and sauce?”

G: (thinking it’s a trick question) “Pasta? Spaghetti?”

L: (to Dave, with one hand leaving the steering wheel for her heart) “He doesn’t say pasghetti anymore. I think I’m going to cry.”

D: (to Graham) “Yes, spaghetti. The restaurant is called Pasghettis as a joke.”

L: (tearing up; addressing Dave) “I can’t believe he says spaghetti now. It happened so fast.”

Scene ends with a 6 3/4 year old boy being more grownup than he was just one week before. End scene. 

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Grahamism | Fly

“Okay, fly, we are just gonna talk. I just wanna say hi and talk about our days. Let’s just have a nice con-vuh-sation, just da two of us. I know you are da King of da Flies. I wouldn’t call you a nice name and den kill you. Let’s not even say da word kill. How about I’m gonna slap dis swatter around to make fun noise for you. We’re such good friends, King of da Flies. I’ll just wait for you to come see me. We can talk about all our fave-wit things.”


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Grahamism | Dental Insurance

“Mama, if I got a cavity, I’m just gonna tell him I can’t get it filled cuz ‘We don’t got insurance wight now. Sorry!’ and den I’ll just walk out. Dey will buh-lieve me and I won’t need a shot.”


Dave and I were laughing so hard. We do have insurance, but Graham overhead me saying there could be a clerical issue with mine and I would postpone my appointment until we heard from the insurance agent. We’ve been with this dentist for years, but Dave took a new job last December. Then, I think I said, “If I don’t have insurance, they are not cleaning my teeth tomorrow. I’ll just take Graham, reschedule mine, and leave.”


This morning, Graham asked several people if our insurance was working. Asked to see insurance papers and cards. And asked if the insurance people needed to talk to him and make sure he was, in fact, Graham.


On the way out, he asked me to call the insurance people. “Tell dem I was good, I don’t got any cavities, I gotted a Angry Birds sticker, and I’m getting a Mario toy.” I’ll get right on that. My favorite thing on this green Earth is phone conversations with insurance companies. Plus, I can tell them I’m cavity-free, too. My prize was a Stranger Than Fiction dvd…


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On Hating Other Moms

“Mama, do you ever hate ovver moms? Ones dat got easier kids dan Adelaide? What about da ladies whose babies didn’t die? Do we stop liking dem? It feels wong to do dat.”

My favorite boy overflows with tough queries.

I take a deep breath. Another. And a third.

We discuss how much I enjoy seeing other kids do well. How I could never be upset with other moms who love their kids and take care of them. How, even though I love Adelaide so very much, my dream would be zero disabilities in the world. How Adelaide will be healed someday and it will be fantastic. And how I am overjoyed when other moms get to keep their babies. I explain that we can’t be upset that other people are happy, just because we are sad. It’s not anyone’s fault that our babies died, and God would want us to celebrate other babies. And, finally, how he is right. Being upset with other mommies who get to have their babies is not showing God’s love.

My answers came so quickly and easily. But his question found its way back to me while I was loading the dishwasher.

Am I that mom? The one who loses herself in bitterness? Or am I practicing what I preach to a kindergartner over chocolate milk? It only takes a few careless words to cross over from acceptable grief to alienating those around you.

Graham knows it’s out there. Women who hate other women. Who treat fellow women with contempt, just because there is inequity in the world.

I see it in the special needs community everyday. I left an online group, because women were shunning family members with typically developing children. Refusing to congratulate others on milestones not yet reached by their own kids. Tearing others down for having ‘easier’ lives…their words, not mine.

You see it in pregnancy and birth communities. Like a plague. Infertility, miscarriage, infant loss. Women turn on one another. Hatred and bitterness over something that cannot be controlled. Envy and covetousness rotting bones and friendships. Women acting like small children, belittling the fortunate ones. Acting like the struggles of the womb are an excuse to turn on our sisters. Loathing her for her easy conception or healthy pregnancy or chubby-faced miniature version of herself.

I struggle with my lot as a special needs mom. And I am deeply grieving over Laurence and Flannery. I’ve prayed everyday not to become the woman who can’t rejoice and mourn according to the Holy Spirit’s guiding. I fear becoming bitter. I’m naturally a sarcastic, cynical person. I worry that I’m closer to bitterness than I should be. About to cross over. Hurting others and becoming what I promised myself I would never become.

I don’t wake up looking for ways to be grateful. I’m nowhere near a Proverbs 31 woman. My morning thoughts look like, “Will Adelaide try to eat poop today? How many times will Graham talk back? Will Bess go an hour without being mean? Will I ever get pregnant with twins again? Will I ever even get pregnant again? How do I explain to Graham that we may never have another baby? Did I pay that medical bill? Should I respond to that crazy message or just ignore it? Why doesn’t anyone read my blog?”

I am basically Pollyanna’s foil.

And there are moments when I think about what my life could’ve been. And I wonder just how much easier that Lyndse would’ve had it today. Twice this week, I had to tackle Wal-Mart on my own with all the kids. I wore Bess, pushed Adelaide in her wheelchair, pulled the cart behind me, and tried to keep Graham from commenting on each person’s cart contents. When a 10 minute trip ended up taking seven times that, I allowed the self-pity in. I wallowed for 38 seconds and pushed it out of my heart. It profits nothing to look around and compare myself to other moms. With their size 4 waists, well-behaved children doing everything textbook perfectly, and carts full of things I can never afford. Whether I keep the untrue “why her and not me?” thoughts in my head or text them or throw them on Facebook, they hurt someone.

Graham is like me. A realist. As he wonders if it gets to me, I suspect it must get to him. Our life isn’t normal. Not one of his friends has a sibling with disabilities. He asks me the questions, because he’s trying to figure out what he thinks. He misses our babies. He thinks everyone else is having babies but us. He thinks everyone else has sisters who don’t need special school.

He is too young to realize most people are struggling with something. They just might not be talking about it.

And I think that’s why we so frequently see all this bitterness. We forget that we aren’t the only ones.

I’m not the only mom of three out-of-the-box kids. I’m not the only mom who delivered dead twins. I’m not the only mom who pushes a wheelchair. Pulls a cart. Tries to keep my son from asking a pregnant woman if her baby will come via c-section or out a ‘mom hole’ or die before it can be born. He tells everyone about our babies. Asks everyone if they have their own loss to share with him. He also needs to know he isn’t the only one.

Graham is unwittingly keeping me from bitterness. Because his out-loud questions remind me just how silly our in-heart thoughts can be. We somehow rationalize hate for someone not dealing with the same struggle. How self-centered it is to focus so much on my own problems, that I don’t realize she is going through her own valley. My natural reactions are the opposite of God’s heart. He tells us to share burdens. Comfort those who are going through what we’re going through. What we’ve already been through. Nowhere in His Word does it say that we get to become heartless women, just because our own hearts are hurting. He calls us to something bigger. And even our 6-year-olds know it.

And I pray mine keeps reminding me. Because I really need it some days.


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