In military life, weekends together sometimes feel like a luxury.
Once you count deployments and TDYs and field exercises and night shifts, those few precious weekends per month or per year you do get to spend together off the clock become very special, and early on in our marriage, we realized we needed to make them count.
So from the time we moved to our first duty station as husband and wife, we designated Friday nights as “Family Friday.”
As a newlywed couple living in the frigid temperatures of Fairbanks, Alaska, Family Fridays included Pizza Hut deliveries and late-night Smallville snuggle marathons together on the pull-out couch of our post home. (This was, of course, before children and all their bouncing, bull horn glory entered the life picture at 5 a.m. on Saturday mornings.)
As our family grew, those Fridays evolved into game nights, puzzle nights, neighborhood runs and firepit roasts. (And, for the sake of all early morning critters that rose before the sun, we ended those nights by 7:30 p.m. Keepin’ it real — in those early child-rearing years, the only spit we swapped was that which drooled from our mouths after we fell asleep on each other at 7:45 on the couch.)
Now that our children are all old enough to prepare their OWN breakfasts on Saturday mornings, the late-night Friday movie has returned — and so has the pizza. (So have the make-out sessions — thank God for sleeping children!) Only now, to accommodate the dietary restrictions of Superhero 3, we make our own from naan and veggies each Friday, and we break our own dinner-table-only meal rules to whip out the TV trays and enjoy a family movie at the end of what is sometimes a pretty exhausting week.
Tonight, 2D DJ joined us for the first Friday night that his 3D counterpart was supposed to enjoy. And for awhile, it was all fun and games.
After carting this flat figure to the passport photo office and up and down the local mall in a stroller for the day (we apologize again, 2D DJ, for all the ways you were inappropriately groped by a 4-year-old boy just trying to figure out the best way to grasp your foam figure with his Superman hand — we promise to inform him that the crotch catch is not the most appropriate place for public holding; we also apologize for the foul jokes of your three host brothers, who pointed out that 2D sounded oddly close to “tooty” and continued to make farting noises for a portion of our drive today), we had some stares and some stories to enjoy as we nestled up together on the floor.
Until the family movie for the night came on Disney Junior … and it was Meet the Robinsons.
That’s when I watched as our three little boys ate make-your-own pizza on Family Friday with a two-dimensional cardboard cut-out of a boy who didn’t have one as they watched a movie about a 12-year-old orphan who yearned to be adopted … and how one crazy couple totally changed the story of this boy’s life.
The irony was just too much.
Lewis, the main character, was an older boy, just like DJ. A boy who longed for a family, just like DJ. A boy who had some “special needs” — who had smarts and ingenuity beyond his years, and who was simply misunderstood by prospective parents not used to viewing the world through his inventive lens.
Just like DJ.
It took ONE willing family to embrace his uniqueness and change his story.
Just like it will take ONE willing family to embrace DJ’s uniqueness and CHANGE HIS STORY.
As the movie concluded and I tucked the boys into bed, tears still streaming down my cheeks, I couldn’t stop thinking about the two-dimensional figure who stares at me even now from across the room — like Lewis, just WAITING FOR A FAMILY.
DJ deserves Family Friday. And not just as a flat object.
He deserves a family who will exchange his “special” for his “super” and meet him right where he is at. Who will enthusiastically lay down their ideals of what family should look like and give this sweet boy a CHANCE to experience the kind of LIFE that is possible when two imperfect people allow one perfect God to REWRITE AN ORPHAN’S STORY.
Like Lewis, DJ’s story can be different. Because it can end not just theoretically in the home of a family enjoying pizza and a movie on Family Friday, but in actuality.
This 2D picture of a real 3D boy doesn’t have to be the only Friday night evidence of family fun for the rest of this boy’s life. This 3D boy is waiting. He’s hoping. He’s been doing both for TEN YEARS … just waiting for a family to call his own.
Tonight, as I watch my own three boys and especially my orphan-no-more cuddle up in the home they get to call their own, my heart just pleads. Because at 11 p.m., with tears still fresh on my cheeks, I just don’t have any more words.
Lord, let this be the last of DJ’s family-less Fridays. For forever.