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Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Christmas: A Baby’s Hug

Note: My friend in Austin, Texas, Jim Gentil, sent this piece to me. It is from his bi-weekly email newsletter, “Positive Spiritual Living!” (Issue 70-December 20, 2007). It touched me so much I wanted to share it with you. The writer was not identified, but it was obviously a young mother. I have edited the story a bit.


We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed how everyone was quitely sitting, eating and talking.

Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and shouted, “Hi!” He pounded his little hands on his tray, his eyes twinkling with delight. He wriggled and giggled with glee.

I looked around and found the source of his merriment: a man with baggy old pants and toes poking out of worn-out shoes. His shirt was dirty, his hair uncombed and his whiskered face unwashed. He waved at my baby.

“Hi there, baby. Hi there, big boy. I see ya’, buster,” he said to Erik.

My husband and I exchanged “What do we do?” looks, while Erik continued to laugh and shout, “Hi!”

Everyone in the restaurant was now watching. The old fellow was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby.

Our meal came as the man began to shout across the room: “Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look! He knows peek-a-boo!”

No one thought he was cute. He was obviously drunk.

My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; Erik didn’t. He ran through his repertoire for the old man who, in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.

We finally finished our meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and said he’d meet me at the car. The old man was poised between me and the door.

“Lord, please, please just let me get out of here before he speaks to me or Erik,” I prayed. As I drew closer, I turned my back trying to sidestep him. But as I did, Erik leaned over my arm and reached for the man with his arms raised. Before I could stop him, Erik had launched himself from my arms to his.

Suddenly a desheveled and smelly old man and a young baby connected in love and kinship. Erik, in an act of total trust, love and submission, laid his head on the man’s ragged shoulder. 

The man’s eyes closed; I could see tears clinging to his lashes. His rough, aged hands gently cradled my baby’s bottom and stroked his back.

I don’t believe two humans ever loved so deeply for so short a time. I was awestruck. He rocked and cradled Erik in his arms, then his eyes fastened squarely on mine. “You take good care of this baby,” he said in a firm and commanding voice.

With difficulty, I managed to whisper, “I will.”

Longingly and lovingly he lifted Erik from his chest and passed him to me.

“God bless you, ma’am. You’ve just given me my Christmas gift.”

I said nothing more than a muttered, “Thanks,” and ran with Erik to the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and why I was saying,” Oh, God, forgive me.” I had just witnessed Christ’s love shown through the innocence of a small child who saw no sin, who made no judgement. The child saw a soul, where a mother saw only a suit of clothes. I was a Christian who had been blind, but I was holding a child who saw perfectly.

I felt it was God asking me, “Are you willing to share your son for a moment?” when He shared His for all eternity. Indeed, the ragged old man had reminded me of something Christ taught: “To enter the kingdom of God, we must become as little children.”


Have a blessed Christmas.

James Sutton, Psychologist


December 24, 2007 Posted by | family, Inspirational, Parents, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Terminal Uniqueness

Years ago, I worked with a 13-year-old girl who lost both parents in an automobile accident. She fell completely apart, which, I suppose, is understandable. Attempts at living with relatives did not work out for her, so she was placed in an emergency shelter. That’s where I met her. One of the child care workers in the shelter brought me something the girl had written. This piece was titled simply, “Alone.”

I’m all alone.

And I rock myself with my arms around me,

Thinking someone loves me.

But deep down inside, I know it’s nobody.

I watch everyone being loved but me.

As I look for someone to love me, I get hurt.

The pain I’ve been through, I can’t forget.

I feel it strongly I wish I can forget it all.

But, as I know, I’m all alone.

With nobody at my side.


In a few sentences this girl has stated and restated her “terminal uniqueness” with 20 references to self (“I,” “myself,” “my,” and “me.”) Even though there were plenty of adults and peers around trying to reach out to her, she was not receptive.

Wouldn’t it be easy to become angry at this girl for rejecting our attempts to help her? If you said, “Yes,” welcome to the human race. It helps to keep in mind that, if she knew exactly what she should do to be happier and for her life to work out, she would have done it a long time ago.

When we help a youngster break through their “terminal uniqueness,” we move them a step closer to resiliency and recovery. It’s not always an easy task to help a youngster break through a potentially devastating condition–their own thinking.

But it’s a task well work the effort.

James Sutton, Psychologist

December 15, 2007 Posted by | adversity, Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pearl Harbor Day, December 7th

I just got home from a trip to Florida and forgot that it was Pearl Harbor Day when I woke up this morning. I didn’t remember until I saw the neighbor’s flag out.

 I put ours out, too.

I remember my mother telling me what she was doing that sleepy Sunday afternoon in 1941 when she heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor by the empire of Japan. She was listening to the radio as she was ironing clothes in her home in Shawnee, Oklahoma. She had just turned 16 in September. 

A somber voice interrupted the program to make the announcement, and lives in this country were forever changed.

We as a people, under the leadership of Franklin Roosevelt, came together to protect and defend what we held dear. And, as we did following September 11, 2001, we laid aside our political differences and squabbles to focus on a common enemy.

It’s too bad we have to experience tragedy in order to experience unity, but it seems to happen that way sometimes. It is possible we could improve on that?

 James Sutton, Psychologist 

December 7, 2007 Posted by | family, Inspirational, Parents | , , , , | Leave a comment