Think About This

When my son Gabe was a little boy, his heroes were those characters who were protectors.  As a five-year-old, his favorite book was “St. George and the Dragon.” He loved Superheroes- Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers.   He had a keen sense of justice, a deeply kind heart, and an intensity of thought that often left him unable to fall asleep once tucked into bed.

To help my son fall asleep at night, I developed Think-abouts.  Each night after a story, a prayer and a song, I would snuggle next to him, and set the stage for something to think about as he drifted off to sleep.  They usually began in a similar way:

“Gabriel, MacGyver and Pooh Bear are on a mission to save a baby seal who is stuck on an ice floe in the cold Arctic waters.”

Okay, I know what you are thinking. “Seriously?  Gabriel, MacGyver and Pooh Bear?”

Well, the Think-about had to be adventurous enough to capture his attention, but not so scary it would frighten him.  It had to contain characters that he loved and admired. And it needed to give him the opportunity to make himself the character he imagined himself to be- altruistic, protective, heroic.  He would lie in bed, playing out the adventure in his head until he fell into slumber.  By concentrating on the Think-about, he’d forget the things of the real world that threatened to bar him from the Land of Nod.  His tense muscles would relax, his breaths fall into a slow, even rhythm, and his dreams would be kick started by his twilight imaginings.

As Gabe grew up, Think-abouts were replaced by earphones and music, his naivety giving way to snarky sarcasm.  However, he never lost his desire to champion for those who needed a defender.  As a teenager, he was loyal to a fault, sometimes putting himself in peril in misguided attempts to defend friends before making sure he had his facts straight, but as he matured, he learned to harness his reactions and tame them into responses.

Over the years, Gabe’s idealism has been tempered by realism, but he is much the same as that little boy who dreamed gabe oct 2013about saving baby seals from the perils of the world.  He champions for those who are weak.  He stands up for what he thinks is right.  He rolls up his sleeves and works hard to make the world just a little better than what it was before he was born.

Now, I’m not saying that in the days of think-abouts, I anticipated how my son’s life would unfold.  But I do know that we help influence our children by the heroes and role models we introduce to their imaginations.  We can help them align themselves with those who wear white hats, the caped crusaders, the protectors of the weak, the defenders of the small.

My son’s stuffed bear sits in a trunk in our attic, where it will stay until another little boy needs him. And Gabe will most likely never create a rocket out of chewing gum and paper clips, or save the world from a nuclear explosion.  But he is living a life that would make MacGyver and Winnie-the-Pooh…and his mother… proud.  He is becoming his own kind of super hero.

Think about that.

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5 Comments

  1. I met Gabe at the Outlaw Preacher’s reunion last week. He’s very smart, passionate, and his workshop was awesome. I can tell he’s been through a lot and has worked hard to come to terms with everything so he can show people how he’s worked through it in hopes that he can help them.

    What a beautiful tribute. I value his friendship, and you have an incredible son. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Wow… I want to be Gabe’s brother now in more than just a spiritual sense. I know he appreciates how much you support him in his endeavors, Would that all Mothers were so supportive and understanding. Thanks for this. In some small way I think my Mom feels the same way when she looks past her staunch political views and just sees me. But, sadly she can not articulate it. Oh and yes, we are all very thankful for your son. 🙂

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  3. Garrie – what a wondrously beautiful post. I’m relatively new to Gabe’s life, as you know. I’m privy to some of the more ‘eventful’ parts of his backstory – but found this so illuminating as to the man he is and is becoming. I appreciate you posting and allowing us to see, through your eyes and heart, this young man that numerous of us have come to love and appreciate.

    Yes, Gabe both inspired and challenged us at #OP11 – and continues to do so. I’m pleased that his journey and ours (as a whole – and some of us in particular) have intersected.

    ‘Super Hero’ … yeah, that fits.

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  4. Joy Wilson

     /  October 7, 2011

    Garrie, I LOVE THIS POST! I connected deeply with Gabriel’s heart on the Outlaw Preacher’s FB page, and got to spend some time with him in Nashville. As an author and wordsmith, I was drawn to his gift of combining intellect and language to share truth as he perceives it. Gabriel James looks like a happy young man with a weird haircut, and he is, but there’s so much more to him. Outlaw Preachers tend to be a very different than we look — much more complex and odd. That’s why we fit together. I’m glad I’m his friend. Thank you for sharing about the two of you.

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    • Garrie Madison Stoutimore

       /  October 7, 2011

      Great guy, but about the haircut…I’m not taking ownership for that one 🙂 Glad you enjoyed my post.

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