I couldn’t believe my eyes!
Upon arriving at home today, I glanced over to our front garden expecting to observe nothing unusual or out of the ordinary.
What I saw – shocked me!
Sprawled throughout our front garden space were dozens of crocodiles!
What on earth???!!!
Caleb and Jake couldn’t handle this massive reptilian scene. They refused to disembark from our vehicle. Their favorite play space was literally overrun with these massive beasts. Both our boys cried in anxious despair.
“Who did this?” I wailed.
Just then, the door of our home opened. Two missionary friends walked out to greet us. Their sheepish expressions betrayed their involvement.
“Welcome home,” they began.
John let them go no further. “What are all of these crocodiles doing here?”
“Well,” they explained, “some friends needed a short-term holding space for their crocodiles before they transport them to their reptile zoo. Since you guys weren’t here, and the front garden was open, we said they could store them here for the time being….”
“What???” John and I exclaimed.
“It’s only for a day or two. Another shipment of female crocs will be here in an hour. They won’t be any trouble to you, surely. These crocodiles have hardly moved since they arrived.”
I looked at my friends in disbelief. They knew two of our kids are autistic. They understood that Jake and Caleb needed space to roam in safety and without fear. Now, Jake and Caleb sat paralyzed in our Prado – surrounded by these monstrous beasts.
To our astonishment, our friends hadn’t even called us to ask permission – they had just assumed that we would think this was okay. We had been living in southern Africa for nearly 12 years. We had been asked to do a lot of things over our missionary tenure that had certainly stretched our comfort, pushed our boundaries, pressed our limits, but this???
Crocodiles had invaded the sanctuary of our home and our garden.
I looked at my friends with tears in my eyes.
“You put the needs of these crocodiles ahead of our sons, Jake and Caleb,” I said.
My friends didn’t reply. Instead, they turned and walked back into our house. John and I surveyed the crocodiles lying about our garden, realizing that another two dozen were to be dumped here within the hour.
What were we going to do????
At that moment of horrific wonderment, my eyes opened.
I wasn’t standing outside in our front garden looking at dozens of crocodiles any longer. Instead, I was in my bed. It was dark. John lay next to me. Waves of relief suddenly cascaded through my waking mind.
The invading crocodile scenario was a dream????
Had I just experienced a crazy, crazy, crazy crocodile nightmare?
I smiled as I remembered another time when crocodiles figured prominently in our family life. Nearly 15 years ago, John and I had just signed on to serve as missionaries in southern Africa. Our eldest son Micah was three years old then. His biggest fear about moving to Africa was crocodiles. He worried that these reptiles would be everywhere and that he couldn’t play outside. John and I did a lot to help our little guy understand that where we would be living, no crocodiles would be habituating. When we finally settled into African life, we took Micah to a crocodile sanctuary to let him observe these creatures and calm his fears once and for all. No crocodile lived anywhere near us.
Fast forward to today, and my crocodile dream encounters focused upon our younger sons, Jake and Caleb. Not Micah. In fact, Micah hadn’t featured in my crocodile vision at all.
I don’t necessarily analyze dreams. However, I do wonder where my subconscious comes up with things like crocodile invasions! However, I’ll be honest to say that Jake and Caleb and their needs are a constant area of focus in my life. I have been thinking about ways to coach and help them grow in areas of risk-taking, self-confidence, and in trying new things.
Our boys feel most content and secure in our home and front garden. Yet, there is more to life than just being home-bound and garden-secure. I definitely don’t need a crocodile invasion in my home space to propel my boys to try something new. However, we do need some new opportunities for our special kids to help them discover new skills and new strengths. And if truth be known, for Caleb and Jake to try new things outside of their comfort zone, it’s almost like facing down some crocodile fears. It’s a lot to overcome. They’ve done it before – many times. However, as Jake and Caleb get older, it is my desire that they will build upon those feats and keep trying, keep risking and keep moving forward – even if there is a crocodile basking in the sun nearby…
I’ll be honest. It’s not easy to find a welcoming, safe space for autistic kids to explore new social opportunities and attempt new skills in our part of the world – other than cost-prohibitive special needs schools.
Would you say a prayer for our family that the Lord would lead us to something of interest for our two young guys?
We’re on the hunt!
And no, we’re not looking for crocodiles! But if we do find one along the way, we’ll face it head on.
We’re exploring ways to expand Jake and Caleb’s talents, strengths, and skills!
Thanks, Friends! Your prayers matter!