John “Shrek” Johnson

Tender hearted is not a phrase I would use very often with John. He is much like Shrek the Ogre, sarcastic, un sociable, plays well with others, but prefers to be alone. He is a stay out of my swamp kind of guy. Like Shrek, John has a good heart but it is easier and safer to be grumpy and mono syllabus. I have written about his volcano personality. I have struggled with his lone ranger philosophy. Scott and I have spent hours praying, talking, crying and swearing about him. He is independent to a fault, a perfectionist, stubborn, and incredibly good at being alone.

Our family has struggled with his anger, his post traumatic stress, his reactive attachment, and his general lack of expressing any kind of love toward Scott and I. We love him so much, and though he has not been an easy child to raise we would not do anything differently given the same opportunity again. John has taught us about persistence, facing adversity, overcoming obstacles, and that love is not something to take for granted. John is amazing, funny, very intelligent and politically aware. His knowledge of sports facts and statistics is crazy good, and his coping skills are beyond most post forty-year old adults.

The last six months have been the best our family has had with him for a long time. He has participated in the family, used more words than he had total is his lifetime before this and been a joy to be around. It has been a huge highlight of the last few months. AS parents, Scott and I have seen glimpses of this through the years. In public he is a dream child. He is polite, he is interesting to talk to, and you would never think he was anything but awesome to be around. It has been a sad joke between Scott and I that everyone else gets the best of him, and we of course get the worst. That is parenting, that is loving unconditionally. That is really hard.

As parent of this amazing, volatile, young man we have completely enjoyed these past few months. Scott and I often comment to each other that we can not quite believe this is really happening. John and Scott will be joking about something, and I will catch Scott’s eye and mouth “THIS IS JOHN!” I am very aware that this may not last, but for now I am trying to live in the moment and enjoy this boy that everyone else has known for a while.

So while tender hearted is not the phrase that first comes into my mind when thinking of John, it is one that is becoming more familiar to us both. Last month we were at a basketball tournament in Boise and one of John’s friends and classmates is on the team. His mother just had a baby and she was at the tournament with us. Scout is a tiny peanut about 4 weeks old and John was studying her intently. Denette asked John if he wanted to hold her. I thought he would say no way, but instead he got a small smile and said yes. My heart broke with fresh hope and joy as he held this tiny fragile baby. I teared up, and Jessie took two pictures before he got uncomfortable because she was so ‘wiggly’.

John, Shrek, Johnson we love you.


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I thought that was a doll! Such a tiny babe. I pray this reprieve continues for all of you.

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