Rogue: A playful, mischievous person. A person that does not behave in the usual or acceptable way.
I got my first ever NEW car. It's a Nissan Rogue. Here's why....
From the moment he could move, Sam was in search of adventure. Every new environment was a place to explore and test the boundaries and rules. I like that about Sam. Actually, both of my kids are drawn to explore. But for me, it meant the leisurely mornings at the park to chat with my friends while the kids played, was never all that leisurely. Inevitably, two minutes into a conversation I would say,
He was usually headed beyond the swing sets and sandboxes, certain to find something magical outside of the designated play area.
It was challenging. I was that mom, seen leaving the parks, grocery stores and churches with a loud and disgruntled kid under my arm because he wouldn't follow the rules and stay in the boundaries, regardless of the parenting approaches I used. The mom who couldn’t keep her kids under control.
He had no diagnosable disorder like ADHD or Oppositional Defiant or Autism Spectrum. Sam simply felt that basic rules and boundaries restricted him from experiencing life's greatest adventures. So he went rogue.
Because of his tendency to ignore instruction, I ALWAYS volunteered for preschool field trips because I wanted to be able to keep an eye on my own three-year-old trouble-maker. Once, his preschool class got to tour the kitchen at Papa's Pizza, the popular pizza place with an indoor play structure. The kids watched them make a pizza while I kept an eagle eye on Sam. He kept his hands in his pockets the entire time, just like I instructed him to, and I was feeling quite proud and I let my guard down a bit.
Following the tour, the kids got to have one square of pizza for their preschool snack. Inevitably, kids raised their hands to ask if they could have a second square of pizza, since there were a couple squares left on the pan. They were told "No, this is just a snack. There isn't enough for everyone to have a second piece. You get to go home and have lunch pretty soon."
After their single pizza square, the kids were excused to go goof around in the play room. This room had it all...a multi-colored ball pit, an electric merry-go-round, a large tunnel and slide structure and even a miniature ferris-wheel for pint-sized sensory seekers. The room was completely closed off by windows so parents could enjoy their conversation while watching their kids, free from the squealing and shouting of delighted and sometimes misbehaving kids.
The set up was smart. But Sam was smarter and I think he knew I no longer had an eagle eye on him, since he was so exceptional while the pizza was being made. He took advantage.
The kids and adults all went into the play room. I was just a couple minutes into a conversation with another mom before I scanned the room and said...
He was nowhere in sight. I went to his teacher, Staci, and said "I don't see Sam. Do you?" She helped me search for him. A moment later she was calling for me and laughing (because she recognized how smart he was and could see the uniqueness of kids beyond how well they followed the rules). She pointed through the window and into the recently deserted eating area. There he was, kneeling on a chair with elbows and belly on the table where they had just been, enjoying those remaining squares of pizza he had just been told he couldn't have. My four-year-old outsmarted us.
Yes, there was usually a story to tell when I picked Sam up from preschool. Those teachers were saints and they loved him through it all. They still talk about how Sam offered suggestions for how they could improve the daily art project. Though I feared his independent ways would cause trouble his entire life, I somehow believed his behavior came from strengths not fully developed yet. Like little feet that don’t fit into the coolest of shoes yet.
Just before Christmas that same preschool year, I went to pick him up and was called into the room where they displayed their projects. The large corkboard was full of cute little Christmas angels. They had paper doilies for wings, an empty toilet-paper-roll body, a round smiling face and a glittery golden halo just above the smiling angel heads. Darling. But right in the middle of the many angels was one that looked completely different. It belonged to Sam. It had a head, and a golden glitter halo hanging just below the head. That was it. No doily angel wings. No toilet-paper-roll body. Just a face and an upside-down halo, surrounded by the perfect angels whose creators followed directions.
Once Sam was diagnosed with cancer, he managed to get away with NOT following the rules. The school staff loved him (well, mostly) and his 504 plan allowed for him to be excused from classes when he was nauseas, to skip unnecessary homework assignments, and to snack whenever he was hungry. Somehow he managed to stretch those privileges and access rooms and other goodies that kids weren't typically allowed to access. Once in a while a student following the rules would say,
He's in heaven now. I'm assuming his personality is the same up there as it was here and I can't help but wonder what he's up to. Can you break the rules in heaven? Have the other angels caught themselves saying, "Wait...where's Sam?"
Is he trying to reach us?
Did he just tell God, "Hang on a second God, I have to go do something for my mom"?
Has he been told "Sam, that's not how we do things up here"?
What is he getting away with? I'm sure I would be proud.
Us bereaved parents wonder about things that regular parents don't. How close is the spiritual realm and can our loved ones reach us in some small and mysterious way?
We've seen things....signs….they happen at critical times, when we are grieving hard, or engaged in exceptionally meaningful activities. Until we are with him, the spiritual realm will remain a mystery. But for now, we've decided to claim these curious findings as signs from Sam.
Our Rogue Angel.