God Bless You My Child
It was January 21, 1984. I’ll never forget that day as long as I live. It was the day we brought our little Joey home. He was only eight weeks old when we adopted him to be our son through the Catholic Charities Organization. Even though we waited only three years for him, it seemed like an eternity to us. It was the happiest of times. The next three years of Joey’s childhood were so wonderful. Joey grew by leaps and bounds. He was a cute little boy; with thick light brown hair and dark brown eyes. He was a chubby, happy, little boy.
During those years we brought Joey everywhere with us—on visits with friends and family, to grocery stores, to daycare, and to church. Often times people would stop and ask his name or would smile; waving at Joey from across a room. Joey was a friendly little boy, and he was always ready and willing to summon up his very best smile.
My husband and I had both been members of the church choir for ten years before Joey became our son. Once he arrived, I chose to drop out of the choir because we wanted our son to become used to being in church. As a matter of fact, I sat in the front row with Joey since the first week he came to live with us. I discovered if we sat in the front row, where Joey could see the priest and the choir, instead of only being able to see the backs of the people sitting in front of us, he behaved beautifully. Children get bored when they can’t see anything. You really can’t blame them. How would you like to see nothing but someone’s hair all the time? It just made good sense to sit up front.
Joey loved going to church. He enjoyed seeing all the activity happening at the altar. He loved to watch his Daddy in the choir, and he enjoyed watching the choir director as he directed the choir. Joey was fascinated by every single thing he saw. As a matter of fact, he became so used to watching the choir director waving his arms around that he began to imitate him. It was quite a scene to see— this darling little three-year-old boy waving his arms in the air while the choir sang. I think he really believed he was doing what he was supposed to be doing. There were many times when the choir members could hardly suppress their laughter while watching our son’s antics in the front row.
Because we are Catholic, each Sunday at the distribution of Holy Communion, I would walk up to the front with Joey in my arms to where the priest was standing and receive Communion. After the priest distributed Holy Communion to me, he would put his hand on my little son’s head and say, “God bless you, my child.” Joey became quite familiar with this routine, and each Sunday he would expectantly wait for his blessing. It always made him smile that special little smile which he reserved for extraordinarily happy circumstances. He didn’t really know what was happening as he received his blessing—he only knew that it was something good. Even at home he would play “priest.” He would dress up in one of his daddy’s shirts and put a wooden rosary around his neck that my mother had given him for his Baptism. He loved to play make-believe.
Joey was enrolled at the local daycare center. He was in a class of fifteen children, which was cared for by two teachers and three aides. We always received a good report every day. Joey was well-liked by the other children and he got along remarkably well with everyone.
Life was idyllic. We had a wonderful marriage, and we were the happy parents of a beautiful three-year-old son who was our pride and joy. Then one day our happy life was interrupted. It was not due to anything earth-shattering; it was nothing horrible; it was not even anything awful. But it was very funny.
It was a Friday afternoon and when I arrived at the daycare center to pick up our son, I was met by the director. She had been waiting for me and quickly summoned me into her office. My first thought was that something terrible had happened to my little boy. She quickly reassured me that he was perfectly fine. As a matter of fact, one of the aides was helping him get ready to go home with me.
“Well then, what’s the matter?” I asked her, as I nervously sat down in the chair across from her desk.
“We have had several complaints from the other parents about your son.”
“What did he do? I can’t imagine . . . ” My mind was whirling with worry that perhaps he had hit another child, but I found this hard to believe because he was so even-tempered.
“No, no—it’s nothing like that. He gets along famously with all the children. Everyone seems to like him and wants to play with him.”
As I raised my eyebrows and shook my head to show that I didn’t understand, the director began to explain.
“We here at the daycare center pride ourselves as being an equal opportunity daycare center, so to speak. It does not matter what race a child is, or what creed, beliefs, or religion a child has.”
“I don’t understand,” I was saying, still shaking my head in confusion.
“I understand that you and your husband are Catholic, yes?”
“Uh—yes, but what does that have to do with anything?”
“Well, you see, your son has been going around and “blessing” the other children, all the while saying ‘God bless you, my child.’ The children who get “blessed” have, in turn, gone home and blessed their brothers and sisters! Many of the parents are not too appreciative of this.”
I began to laugh and continued to laugh until the tears were streaming down my cheeks. I was so relieved.
They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. I was proud to know who our young son was imitating!
Now our son Joe has grown into the best man and the best son that any parents could ever hope for, and I know for certain that one day he’ll make a wonderful father that his own children will be proud to imitate.
QUOTE FOR THE DAY: “Do something wonderful, people may imitate it.” ~ Albert Schweitzer ~