Monday, June 1, 2009

Happy Feast of St. Justin!

A story about my son whose Patron Saint we honor today...

An Interesting Boy

Justin, the second oldest of the five Bender children, has always defied description. From the time he was an infant, he pushed himself to advance. For example, although he struggled to keep infant foods down, he grew to be strong and healthy, and was even crawling at five months. From that time on, there was nothing we could do to stop him from exploring his world from every possible angle.

He was always inquisitive and he liked to experiment to see what the results might be when he tried unusual things. When he was two years old, he poured all of my perfume into the diaper pail. We didn’t think he did this to be naughty or to try to make the diapers smell better. No, we understood that Justin was simply curious to see what would happen with the combination of perfume and diapers. To his disappointment, he found out the mixing perfume and diapers results in a time-out.

So began the trend of Justin on the receiving end of disciplinary measures for his natural curiosity. Whenever something in the household was missing or broken, Justin got the blame. More often than not, the blame did belong to him. Justin’s honesty and inability to keep a straight face often led to a guilty verdict for him, which then resulted in his favorite punishment, washing the dishes. Believe me, months passed in which the rest of the family enjoyed a reprieve from the dreaded chore because Justin was being disciplined for something or other. To his credit, Justin is now a fabulous dish washer and we can always be sure that our utensils will be spotless when Justin is on the job!

Besides very normal boyhood hobbies, like playing with train sets and fiddling around with a guitar, Justin has some very unusual hobbies as well, such as collecting candy wrappers and writing down all of the local numbers of radio stations whenever we go on vacation. He has a list of radio stations for many cities in Wisconsin, but none of us, including Justin, have a clue as to how he plans to use this information.

One of my favorite memories of Justin shows what a great sense of humor he has. Justin has no trouble laughing at himself when he makes minor mistakes. When Justin was in 3rd grade, he was given the assignment of compiling a list of New Year’s Resolutions. One of his resolutions was to learn to spell words correctly. This was a great resolution, except that he spelled correctly “corickley”! I couldn’t help but laugh, which prompted Justin to make up a dance about the word. He calls it his “corickley” dance.

Justin has many wonderful qualities. He is a hard worker, especially when it comes to chores such as painting and mowing the lawn. He is responsible and dependable and can be counted on to care for his younger brothers and sister when needed. He has great initiative. One day, I came home from work and found that he had taken it upon himself to clean out our entire craft and paper cabinet, which is a huge job!

Justin is a very talented child. He loves to bake and makes fabulous cookies and pancakes. He sings with the Choristers of St. Francis Xavier at the Cathedral. He often serves at Sunday Mass. He does a fabulous job of babysitting for some friends small children. They love his company and cry when he leaves.

Justin is loving, loyal and prayerful. He can be quiet and peaceful, yet he also is often the culprit behind bullying and fights that break out in our household.

We always knew that Justin was a very special child, but it wasn’t until he was in second grade that we had this belief confirmed by another source. It was Justin’s second grade teacher, Ms. Evans, who gave Justin the perfect label. She said “Justin is very interesting” and we realized that interesting was the perfect word for Justin.

Recently, I was challenged to use an image from nature to describe my children. For Justin, I chose a bird’s nest, because like a bird’s nest, Justin is full of the promise of life, yet he is very fragile inside. He provides protection and safety for his family with his responsibility, and his love warms our hearts. We love our interesting son, Justin, and hope that you will too.

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