Meal Planning

With all the talk about baseball around here, I suddenly realized that Johnny’s summer season has come and gone already. I’ve hardly had much chance to comment on his efforts.

But one conversation deserves a post all its own. It’s about future Johnny. And his plans for Becky.

Shortly after Johnny received his summer uniform, he appeared in our bedroom as I was settling Becky down for the evening. He had dressed in his new kit. He announced that he was going to pitch for the Chicago Cubs one day. He said this matter-of-factly, while wearing his new orange jersey and black baseball cap. For the summer league sponsored by the Chicago White Sox.

This was the beginning of our conversation, the assumed launching point for a discussion surrounding Becky’s inevitable visit to Wrigley Field.

Johnny: “When I pitch for the Cubs, will you and Becky come and watch?”

Me: “Absolutely. Yes. We will even wear jerseys with your name and number on the back.”

Johnny usually requests the #7 for a specific reason: since he is child number 7, he feels that life has assigned him that numeral. I have no idea if there has ever been a famous baseball player that wore #7. Perhaps Johnny can be the first.

Actually, a quick Google search just told me that he will have to share it with Mickey Mantle. And, yes, he is wearing sandals in that picture above. But that’s a story for another post.

I allowed myself to dream for a moment. And I wanted to tell Johnny that if he ever finds himself on the mound at Wrigley Field, or in any other MLB stadium, that we, and probably anyone who has ever known us, are either going to be in the stands or out in the parking lot. Where Uncle John will be throwing down an epic tailgate.

Before I could make this promise, Johnny was on to his next question.

Johnny: “Mom, are people going to make fun of Becky at the stadium?”

My heart sank as I prepared my response. For even at the young age of 7, Johnny knows that people can be unkind. And someone like Becky, with a visible disability, are often the targets of a particular cruelty. It hasn’t happened yet. But I know that the day will come. So does Johnny.

Me: “There may be some people who make fun of Becky. But hopefully we will be with her and we will protect her as best we can.”

Johnny: “Are you going to get mad, Mom?”

Yikes. How do I answer that question? Do I tell him that I can’t even imagine the rage that with gather inside me? And the language that will come to mind but hopefully not to mouth? Is it fair to paint the picture of a silent, suffering martyr when I know full well the anger that I am capable of and will be tempted to unleash?

I tried to find something in the middle.

Me: “Oh, I imagine that I will feel very angry. Hopefully, I will keep my cool. But I think it’s best that we feel sorry for people that tease Becky. Because they probably don’t know someone with Down syndrome and they don’t realize how special someone like Becky really is.”

Johnny made a quick pivot to more pressing matters.

Johnny: “Can Becky eat a hot dog at the stadium?”

Me: “I think that sounds like a perfect snack. But maybe we will skip the ketchup so she keeps her Cubs jersey clean.”

Johnny: “What about some French fries?”

Me: “Well, if it’s a home series, there might be several games in a row. And we have to keep Becky’s heart healthy and strong. So we might need to think about the French fries.”

Johnny: “How about a basket of fries per week?”

He’s quite the negotiator, I thought this sounded reasonable. I always want my kids to practice moderation in all things. Including moderation.

Me: Sounds good. A basket of fries per week.”

The conversation took another serious turn as John lowered his voice and made a solemn statement.

Johnny: “But no cigarettes for Becky.”

Me: “That’s right. No cigarettes for Becky.”

I have no idea where that came from.

I told Johnny that it was time for bed. He leaned over to kiss Becky on the forehead. And planted another kiss on my cheek. He swooped down to grab his baseball glove and skipped to the door. He paused for a moment, turning back with one final comment.

Johnny: “And beer only during football games.”

He was gone in a flash. A smile spread across my face as I marveled again at God’s perfect sense of timing. For in His eternal wisdom, He knew that Becky needed Johnny. And Johnny needed to arrive first, gathering the wisdom regarding hot dogs and French fries. Cigarettes and beer. To share with his special, special needs sister.

A quiet peace settled over the room as Becky drifted off to sleep. Her body grew heavy, melting into mine as I stroked her hair and patted her back. I replayed my conversation with Johnny, which was equal parts heart wrenching and hilarious.

His absolute confidence that he would play professional baseball one day, even selecting his position and team. His curiosity regarding how others would treat his little sister in public. His development of a solid meal plan and appropriate distribution of vice.

It was all so wonderful.

And, for a brief moment, all was well with the world.

9 thoughts on “Meal Planning

  1. Johnny is a incredible wonderful gem
    His life will be better than
    Congratulations to your nephew
    John our new Cardinal
    The Cardinals are my Grandson ‘S
    Favorite team Go St Louis


  2. He’s a riot!! Also Becky looks so cute in that orange swim shirt. That color
    Is great on her!! Love
    These posts and love
    Your writing! You’re the best and your cute fam.


  3. Johnny is an amazing boy! He will be a wonderful big brother for Becky and she will brighten his day.
    Becky looks so cute and happy as always. She is a lucky girl to be part of such a great, caring family.
    Congratulations to your nephew, Jack Lynch. It doesn’t get much better than that!


  4. Kathleen, what a blessing he is. Thank you for sharing these insightful stories! God bless all the Rauch family.

    Sent from my iPhone



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