My son, Colt, is about to turn 13 and is on the Autism Spectrum – mid to low functioning in areas of cognitive ability and social skills. He’s going to be in his last year of elementary school next year and we’re buzzing around, trying to get all the necessary testing done through all the different resources to ensure we apply for the right and best suited route for him to enter high school. This is just eating me alive…. First, he won’t be in the same school as any of the kids he’s grown up with. They protect him and know him so well….his classmates accept his disability and they all go out of their way to accommodate his needs. He is loved, cared for and about and he feels he belongs there…..and it’s all going to come to a crashing halt when he enters the high school system.
Now, I know this boy like I know my own heart and I am not letting test results dictate the way I feel about him or the future I hope he might one day have, but wow guys…his testing is not easy to digest. Communication is terrifyingly low….he is testing at the 1st percentile for receptive language and he’s not even on the chart for expressive. This means, essentially, that Colt understands almost nothing that is said to him unless he has a reference point from the past that dictates an appropriate response. For example, when we tell him how much we love him and how much he means to us and our little family, he knows that it means something good. We are sharing our hearts with him and letting him know that he belongs and is loved and needed. His developed response to that is to engage us in the same way. He tells us he loves us too and repeats things he’s heard before like:
“I will love you no matter what.”
“I will always be here for you and will always sick up for you when things get rough.”
“I will fight for what is best for you and for what makes you happy.”
“You mean the world to me.”
“You are perfect just the way you are.”
“I carry you me in my heart everywhere I go.”
“The best part of my day is when I get to come pick you up and take you home.”
“I will never stop loving you.”
He echoes the sentiments we’ve tried to get across to him for his entire life and he knows that they mean good things….they mean we love him and accept him. He repeats them back to us because he feels the same but doesn’t know how else to say it.
At school, there are clear expectations. He knows exactly what he is supposed to do and when he is supposed to do it. He’s had years of visual schedules and (hard fought) EA’s to help guide him along. He has people telling him exactly what he needs to do and what the consequences are if he doesn’t comply. He chooses to do the things asked of him only because he’s learned that things go much easier and happier when he complies. To me, this feels like he’s learned action and consequence and the importance of doing what he is asked to/needs to do in the world – as far as the tests are concerned, it means he’s just learned to parrot back the responses that get everyone to leave him alone the quickest.
I KNOW he’s learned a lot. I know he has empathy (something many autistic people struggle with) in spades and he’s learning how to cope with it and use it to help others. He takes pride in doing something kind for someone else. He cares about his dad and I and goes out of his way to do things to make us happy or to lighten our loud. Right now, I can hear him in the kitchen asking his dad how work was and when Dayne provides a short “it was fine” answer, Colt probes for more.
“No dad. How did things go at work for real? Did anyone make you feel happy? Frustrated? Was your boss in a good mood?”
He’s trying. Right? He’s trying to connect using the tools he’s learned through people trying to connect with him. That’s how all humans do it….just maybe a little more on instinct than Colt does. He needs to be shown exactly how something works before he understands it. He needs to be given the tools. If he’s asked a question he doesn’t know the answer to, he bursts into tears. If he’s asked something he can connect a memory to that turned out well, he defaults there.
For most of his life, he has clung to happy experiences. The first Christmas he can remember has been the default until the last few years. He asked for certain things (not really understanding, but we knew what he favoured and enjoyed playing with, of course) and he was delighted when he got to open presents that contained amazing things that made him happy. Every single Christmas to follow, he asked for an exact repeat of that first one. He wanted the same toys, the same books, the same experience. It was just the last few years he’s been able to expand his requests to include new interests. Shit, we’ve only been able to get him to be okay with a Christmas tree in the house for a few of them. (TREES DO NOT GO IN THE HOUSE!)
So, I’m stuck, staring at these reports and tax forms (thank you Ontario Government for taking away all our disability tax breaks by the way) that read so dismally, telling me that my son is “profoundly disabled” and that his is in danger of harming himself because he may appear to understand some very important instruction you’ve given him, but really, it’s just gibberish to him if he has no reference point from the past.
As a mom, I want what’s best for him. As a mom, I had hoped we could enroll him into the ASD program at our local high schools. They have a system where the kids go to regular classes, pickup their work and then may choose to go to a specified quiet room to get assistance from an EA. Colt is nowhere near that level of independence at school. He can barely complete a simple task unless someone is directly beside him, guiding the process.
Test results don’t show his emotional and personal growth. Test results do not define his abilities and the things he can do now or might be able to do in the future. I guess the fact that I hate so much to face, is that things are not normal for him. I mean, we know this….of course, but we have established a nice little routine that works and we love this child exactly as he is. Sadly, I’m not sure he’s going to fit into cube the school wants to shove him into and he’s going to be put into a program that doesn’t benefit him and his potential. Then again – I couldn’t care less if he graduates high school, goes onto to continue education, gets a job as a deep-sea diver or barely manages to hang onto a paper route throughout his life. I just want what is best and I don’t know what is best and it eats me up.
Day by day, I suppose. We’ve never had the benefit of being able to plan very far into the future for Colt and it’s nothing different now. I guess we just keep going on instinct. So far, we’ve raised a considerate, sweet, loving, strong, opinionated, polite, kind and beautiful boy…..we can’t be doing all that poorly. Everyone who knows him loves him and he pays it back tenfold. If we can just help him through puberty and into adulthood, who knows what he will be able to do. Once, he couldn’t tolerate the sensation of grass on his bare skin and now he independently rides a riding lawnmower all around our property, shifting, lifting and dropping the blade….he even parks the thing perfectly and safely. The tests make all his gains feel invalid or wrong…but they’re not. It’s just a matter of getting our head’s around it, I suppose, and getting over our own terrible fear of change for him. He actually adapts better to life than I do….lol.
I thought it would get easier, being his mom. I thought knowing him better and having him able to express his thoughts, wants and needs to me would help. It did help….does help…but I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Just hoping against hope that I make the right choices for him until he can make them for himself.
We meet with the school in June and will combine all of our reports and test run by them, his psychology team and by us from the perspective as his parents. They will let us know which stream he can apply to join – the ASD program or the other one that will focus more on life skills and safety. I guess we’ll know then, what the next few years will look like and can go from there.
To end on a lighter note – at his last meeting/session with his psychiatrist the doc asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. Colt paused, panicking a bit, unsure of the answer. He looked at me for some help and I smiled….told him he could pick anything he could imagine in his head as being a fun job to do. His answer?
“Yeah, you know, I was thinking I’d just live with these guys and not really have to go to work that much.” with a thumb over his shoulder gesturing back to where his dad and I were sitting.
Dayne laughed and said he was welcome to stay forever, but as far as a job went, cutting the lawn every weekend could count. lol.
Is it weird that I wish I’d had more kids so much and am simultaneously so relieved that we stopped at one? I wish he had siblings but I also love the fact that he gets all of us and every drop of love we have in us (and there is a LOT of it, when it comes to this magical little boy who is rapidly outgrowing his clothing).
So. There’s that part. Onto part three….
I never quite got to that second story I wanted to tell.
On Friday morning I got up, grudgingly, and stumbled to the bathroom, already late. I jumped into the shower and was showering away, scrubbing and washing as usual, when I happened to look through the glass of the shower door (it’s a stand up, full glass shower in that bathroom). There was a weird reflection I couldn’t quite figure out because it looked as if there was water on the bathroom floor with ripples and drops raining down. I looked up at the ceiling to make sure it wasn’t leaking and all looked well, so I dismissed it as an odd reflection off the glass and carried on with my shower. I did glance at the floor suspiciously a few times before I was done but without my glasses I’m almost blind so it’s hard to tell when to believe the things my eyes are telling me in the best of conditions, never mind through a steamy, glass shower door where water is actually falling all around me. I finished up my shower and turned off the water and, even before I swung the door open I knew. The reflection was not actually a reflection at all….my entire bathroom was flooded with at least an inch of water. I called for Dayne and heard him leap out of bed, assuming I’d hurt myself or needed help, and then heard “Splash! Splash! Splash!” as he came running down the hallway. Apparently the water had reached the bedrooms.
Our hallway is wood and it’s old so the varnish has worn and there are cracks that allow water to seep in, which lifts the wood from the floor. There was so much water it went from the bedrooms, all the way past both bathrooms and out into the living room. Some got into the kitchen but there’s a big spacer/cap thingy there to make the transition from wood to laminate not so open. Of course, the baseboard is big, thick pieces of wood and the house is old enough that there is a decent quarter inch gap between the floor and the baseboard in some places, particularly around the bathroom where the water has obviously flooded before.
In a panic, realizing the scope of what we were facing, Dayne whipped of all his clothes and threw them at the pond in the hallway. He then reached for the closet where the linens are kept and started grabbing and tossing everything we had just washed onto the floor. Towels, bedding, blankets….everything. When all that wasn’t enough, he grabbed the dirty laundry basket and up-ended it, scattering Colton’s dirty socks and our gross, dirty clothes everywhere. He was hollering for me to come help him so I dashed out of the shower only to find my own towel already in use, and, dripping wet myself, I went to one end of the hallway and Dayne took the other end and we pushed the surface water back towards the bathroom so we could get the wood floor dry and keep as much out of the cracks and baseboard as possible.
At some point, Colt woke up, took one step out of his room, looked at the two of us, butt-naked and trying to push a small lake of water across the hall with an assortment of dirty socks and clean, but sopping wet towels, and turned right back around into his room and closed the door quickly behind him. I heard him say something like:
“I don’t even want to know….”
And we burst out laughing, breaking the urgency of the moment. Dayne was very intensely into trying to get that water up. I suggested we use salt along the base to pull the water up (we did and it worked amazingly well) and then kind of stuffed paper towels along the baseboard and into the gaps at the bottom. By this time I was late for work so I got dressed in whatever seemed to match and took off running only to catch Dayne, out of the corner of my eye, pouring something all over the kitchen floor. It looked like salt….but it wasn’t salt. Plus, I didn’t want to kill the cats with sodium scattered everywhere so I stopped to see what he was doing. We had run out of salt, apparently, so he had switched to sugar. SUGAR!
“What? It’ll do the same thing the salt does won’t it? He asked.
“NO! No it won’t….it will turn into a sticky, syrupy mess and we will never get it up!” I explained, not as calmly as I had intended. Thankfully, he set the sugar down and started with the paper towel again.
When I got home, my kitchen floor felt like a movie theatre but the ominous *squish* sound that happened when you stepped on the first few tiles from the hallway had stopped. The floors were a tiny bit lifted….you could just see the corners coming up, so we hope they’ll settle back down as they dry. The salt worked wonders though. I brushed it out when I got home and it came out in solid chunks, all water absorbed. The baseboard seems fine and the walls are okay – bathroom floor has never been cleaner and there’s only a little damage to the hallway. It could have turned out much worse.
I spent a few hours trying to unglue the sticky sugar from my floor this weekend, but then got out for an impulsive photo hunt….got some beauties. There was a flock of wild turkeys attacking a hawk’s nest and the two hawks were fighting them off. The ugly turkeys were easily three times their size and twice in number but the hawks won in the end. I had my telephoto out so got some amazing shots of them in flight. I had no idea turkeys could fly like that …. so high and riding the currents forever without flapping. Maybe they were vultures…hard to say from the photos. I’ve never seen a vulture around here but those turkeys must have pulled their entire neck inside their body because all you can see is an ugly red face peeking out a mass of brown feathers as they glide. Still, stunningly beautiful in the air. Such grace those clunky, ugly, carrion eating birds display when they get off the ground.
Some of the shots here for you to see:
Early Sunday morning, Dayne’s cell phone went off. It was the sort of hour that one only receives bad news via phone calls, so, we knew something was up. Dayne’s family is an odd bunch. His family is essentially not his own and there were a lot of foster kids going through that place, well cared for or otherwise, it was what it was.
When he was born, both of his parents were under 20 and his mother had some serious mental health issues. She basically gave birth to him and then, the moment she was able, she got dressed and split, leaving Dayne behind. There were a few battles in the following year when his mother regretted her decision and tried to take him back from his very young father, but through some very …. questionable methods, Dayne ended up entirely in his father’s care. After a few years, he met his current wife and they went on to have two children of their own and the foster kid train started.
I’m not shy about saying that the new wife was a crazy bitch and took full advantage of everything and everyone she could. She resented Dayne the entire way through and despite her being the only mother figure he had in the world, he was not ever recognized as ‘her’ son. He was not part of family functions with the rest of her family and Dayne has many years of memories of being alone. When he was 5 he walked home for lunch from school on his own and would have to eat whatever portion of crap she left in the fridge for him. I guess it was a different time, as I also recall walking home for lunch when I was just a few years older than he was, but it was to a stay at home mother who would have something ready for me to eat like canned zoodles and grilled cheese. Big difference there.
He was dropped off at strangers homes (neighbours they knew, but certainly not friendly with) on Christmas eve while they took off to Florida. The unsuspecting neighbours never knew what to do or say to this child who arrived on their doorstep. Many of them tried to make things better for Dayne and managed a few gifts and made him feel welcome, but the next year, they would be sure not to answer the door when they saw the family coming. There were so many things like this…just so many.
Dayne grew up feeling unwanted and unloved. He adored his father and thought him to be the smartest man in the world. It was a crushing blow when he discovered that hid dad was mainly full of crap and embellished stories and knowledge to hide the true feelings of inadequacy that lay just beneath the surface. That’s not to say that Dayne was given any special treatment – his parents treated their own kids the same. All of them were kicked out of the house long before they finished high school. They had an odd, dismissive way of parenting. Basically, the fact you were allowed to live there was gift enough and the rest was none of their business or responsibility. The foster kids had it better because there was more regulation around them, but not much better, that’s for sure.
There were a lot of things that happened between the time I started dating him and met his family and now that have left the bunch of them estranged. It’s just been in the past few years that Dayne has been talking to his father again, mostly on the phone, and has just started a few chats with one of his two step sisters. I’ve struggled with this part a lot. They hurt Dayne so deeply…..all of them did….and I hated to see him suffer. They all turned him away when he needed them most and he forgave them; they lied to him repeatedly and he forgave them; his step mother treated his dad like her own personal slave and his father, so afraid of being alone, constantly chose her over everyone else. When Colt was born, the step mother didn’t ‘count’ him as a grandchild because Dayne was not her son. His father, on our last visit over there when Colt was a toddler, got upset with Dayne when he didn’t agree with something he said and his response was to say:
“I wish I could go back in time and find your mother when she was pregnant with you so I could beat the shit out of her until you were aborted.”
That was it for me. Dayne too. He stopped talking to his family for a while. This wasn’t an isolated incident though, it was just the way things were between them. It horrified me even more than my own dealings with my foster family and, supporting Dayne, I bowed out of any relationship we had.
So life goes on….and suddenly Dayne is talking about taking Colt to see his grandfather. The idea terrified our son who has no idea who this man is because he was never willing to visit us. The step mother wouldn’t come and wouldn’t allow his dad to visit without her so, we didn’t see him. There was a single attempt to sneak out to meet up but it went bad and Dayne did not want to put Colt through the confusion of having people in and out of his life….he’s not one who would understand such blatant changes and the swing between being loving and kind to hating and angry over almost nothing. We talked about it and decided we’d let Colt decide. I said I’d go so we could play Minecraft on our phones together so he wasn’t too nervous about having to talk to this grandfather he never knew. That’s where we were when phone rang in the middle of the night.
Dayne’s dad has MS. He’s fought it like nothing I’ve ever seen before and, all things considered, did amazingly well in life. He figured out how to live with it, no matter how bad it got. There was a period of terrible seizures, black outs, blindness, inability to walk, move or balance…..he has lesions on his brain and some mass in his lung but he just kept going and going. This flu that has been going around this part of the country that is causing such a problem was rampant in the office that Daynes dad worked at part-time. He didn’t protect himself and caught it, then, almost immediately developed pneumonia, half filling his good lung. He drove himself to the hospital on Saturday and was admitted. The sedated and intubated him while draining his lungs but once extubated his heart started struggling. I convinced Dayne to go to him yesterday afternoon, and he did….he’s been by his side ever since, staying the night to make sure his dad didn’t rip out his IV’s and oxygen, which he did every chance he got. This morning, the two girls, the wife and Dayne assembled to decide on what to do. His dad has a DNR so the choices weren’t exactly expansive. At 11 this morning, they started pumping him full of pain killers to stop the agony he was in all night long, removed his IV’s and turned off the machines. For the last five hours, they have stood by him as his heart and blood pressure goes wildly up and down and his breathing gets more laboured. He finally fell asleep and is out of pain and now they wait…..just stand there and wait.
Dayne is devastated and I’m not there with him. The guilt is overwhelming. He’s been calling me in tears every few hours but would not let me come. He doesn’t want Colt to see that – seeing him so torn to pieces will really confuse and terrify Colt, no matter what. All of Colt’s life, it has been just the three of us and although we are trying to expose him to as many real life situations as we can….prepare the kid somehow for what life is like out there….this is one thing that might be way too much for him to handle. I’ve been trying to explain to him what’s happening, and why. I start to cry and Colt immediately comes to comfort me. It’s all backwards and confusing and I just want to be there for Dayne but I can’t. So….I’ve sat here all night and all day, calling out of work, waiting for this man to die.
The hardest part is hearing Dayne say that it’s his own fault for not taking his dad up on rebuilding their relationship over this last year. That said, he did spend the night talking with him, forgiving him and making their peace. I’m so glad they had that chance, as most of us don’t. The phone call no one wants to get is so often that it’s already too late.
Now I’m stuck thinking about my own family and the horrible way things went. If the past is the past for Dayne and his dad, should it be the same for me and my family? My father won’t be able to hurt me anymore, not the way he did back then, and I already had the big talk about how we wanted to put the whole ‘dropping me off and driving away when I was 15 to fend for myself on the streets’. We ended up able to still have somewhat of a relationship after that. I need to figure out if my parents who raised me….sort of… should be forgiven and if I should take advantage of the time that is left or if it should all be left in the past.
This isn’t about me though…it’s about Dayne and his dad. I asked every loved person I’ve ever lost to go be with Dayne and to help his dad let go….because he really needs to let go. I am sitting here, an hour away, protecting our son from this horrible part of life and I feel like I’ve just stepped out of the picture and all I can do is wait. It was hard to watch Dayne suffer their neglect and lies and now it’s hard to watch him suffer the loss. Where is that line between forgiveness and self protection? Maybe the thing that scares me the most is the thought of no one being there with me when my day comes. Who will stand at my bedside and hold my hand while I slip away? Dayne? Surely – and our son as well. Maybe that’s enough. Maybe the others don’t want me in their world anyway.
So I sit. I field tearful phone calls and offer support, love and sympathy. I want this horrible moment to be over for all of them and I wish I could do something to make it different. But I can’t. So I wait….and I hate every single moment of it.
I have always been terrified of storms. I’m not sure why, exactly, as I’ve never been in any physical danger when a storm hit, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve been afraid of them. Wind, in particular.
I remember back when I was very little, living with my foster family in a Toronto subdivision. We were not exactly in prime tornado territory but we often get weather warnings in the summer because there are a lot of thunder storms that move through the region. Where I am now is the place that gets the most lightning in Canada, in fact. It has something to do with being surrounded by the Great Lakes, I think. One of these ‘tornado watch’ warnings came through the television “emergency broadcast” with the horrifying bomb siren sounds screeching from the speakers to get everyone’s attention. There was a severe thunder storm brewing and a cold front moving in and funnel clouds had been spotted in the area. I was only little….maybe 3 or so, and I panicked. I ran around the house slamming windows closed (I didn’t know it was best to keep them open – I just wanted to keep the storm out!) and locked all the doors. I went so far as to lock the tiny little flip lock on the handle of the metal framed screen door at the front of the house. Then, I went into my closet and hid, waiting for the scary event to pass. I told my mother I was afraid but she just blew me off. I was kind of terrified of everything at that point so I don’t think she was being cruel on purpose. She just knew me well enough to know I’d be okay once it passed. (I could have used a kind word and a hug, now that I think back on it. I was just a little one and I remember tears rolling down my cheeks and my whole body trembling with fright.)
I went to hide and stayed there until I heard a loud pounding on the front door.
*OH MY GOD IT’S THE TORNADO!* I screamed in my head, too afraid to actually move or make a sound.
Of course, it wasn’t the storm…lol…it was my father who was stuck outside in the torrential rain, unable to get inside because I’d locked the screen door. My mother thought it was hilarious but he wasn’t so amused.
I still hate storms. I hate new articles about damage caused by storms, stupid shows about people who idiotically drive INTO storms for the sake of the thrill, and I hate videos of storm photos or damage. Hurricanes have the same effect on me, however, it would have to be a damn huge one to reach as far inland as I am so I don’t worry about them quite so much.
This morning, Dayne woke me by text at 9 am.
**Hey did you hear that there was a tiny tornado (ground spout? funnel? I can’t recall what the news called it but it was an F-0 on the rating scale they use) behind X’s house yesterday?**
I was up and wide awake in seconds. I looked it up on the news, checked out bystanders videos and then, reading there was very little damage done, relaxed a bit and kept investigating. I read that there was a children’s wooden swing set that had been picked up and deposited into the neighbour’s yard and some damage to a bit of siding on one of the homes right next to the house where the family who babysits Colt live. They are away on vacation (which is why I’m off as well) so I thought it a good idea to go check on the house, no knowing if neighbors had contacted them. When we pulled up, it was obvious it was their swing set that had been tossed about as the bright yellow slide was jammed, at a very awkward angle, into the neighbors shed roof and the other bits of it were scattered into the fields behind the houses. I took pictures and texted them to the family, just in case no one else did and they need to call insurance (they have solar panels on their roof and at least one was clearly smashed) and headed back home. It wasn’t until I got here that I suddenly realized, with a gasp, that had they not been away, all of us parents would have been at work and the kids, including Colt, would have been there, alone, when the storm hit. It wasn’t a long ordeal and the winds weren’t even that strong (80 mph but we get some pretty high winds here this time of year) but it would have been terrifying for them had it happened that way! Thank heavens they were away and Colt wasn’t there.
The other thing that bothers me is that they were the only house affected. Another home had some siding stripped off but it was a chunk of the swing set that caused that to happen, so really, a tornado formed, touched down, destroyed my friend’s swing set and called it a day.
I guess, if it had to happen, this was the mildest, gentlest way it could have gone. Regardless, I’m not leaving my house again today. More thunder storms are coming and I’m much happier holed up in my house, nice and close to the basement crawl space. I even have a plan to get the cats down there, if need be. Mind you, they will never talk to me again if I throw them into a dark hole in the ground without warning. Still….the other option would be decidedly worse.
And that’s my exciting Friday! Got my car fixed, got my phone fixed, got the kitchen, living room and bathroom clean, did my nails (twice), took Colt out for lunch and I’m done until tomorrow. Planning on a peaceful evening with no tornado warnings! (Work with me here, Mother Nature).
Well now, what’s this? I woke up a few moments ago (at noon) as my sweet boy crept into my bedroom to silently steal my iPad (he’s been up for an hour or two, happily enjoying his time alone in the house by simultaneously playing all the electronic things at once. He has his phone (not really a phone – it has no sim card and works only on WiFi for games and such), his dad’s iPad, the Wii game system, and his school iPad (unlocked for the summer, of course) all at the same time. He LOVES doing this and will hoard all the ‘screens’ he can when we aren’t looking, will take them to his room and, after putting on a movie he likes in his little TV/DVD player, will proceed to obliterate every outside noise (and even the ones in his head, I suspect) with an abundance of sound, lights, images and fast paced reaction required games. Right now I can hear his Shopkins game, Talking Tom, a movie I almost know by heart but can’t quite identify, Super Mario, and a YouTube video from one of those gaming channels I hate him watching. They aren’t bad in content but they tend to holler F-bombs loudly at unexpected moments….there’s also a lot of screeching and screaming that tends to wear on the nerves when you have to listen to it for hours on end from the other room. The swearing deal is now totally under control and Colt has the appropriate look of horror cross his face when he lets one slip in our company, plus we only had a single incident this entire summer at the babysitters so….all good on that front. Because he’s wised up to the rules, I don’t keep him away from things on YouTube that are age appropriate containing foul language like I used to. He is 12 after all and no longer a little one who seemed determined to corrupt his peers through his bad habits with language. lol….poor kid. He’s always been such a good boy but because he lacked the filters and instinct not to get into trouble he was monitored by everyone in his life everywhere he went. There is still a woman who comes to school every day to make him eat his lunch for heaven’s sake. This woman’s only job is to sit there and cajole the boy into eating his lunch, which is so lovingly packed by Dayne each and every morning. He’s careful not to put anything in there that would turn Colt away from the entire thing, like the slightest suggestion of nuts, seeds or cereal ANYWHERE involved. Even if something has a picture of a nut or seed on it he’s done. Nope. No thank you. Done. Once, Dayne thought it would be okay to put in a yogurt that had a muesli packet on the side (removed, of course) but the container mentioned the grains (didn’t even show them, it was just in the description) and Colt didn’t even want to touch his lunch bag for weeks afterwards. The lunch lady, a lovely woman who quite obviously adores our son, wrote a very terse note home scolding us for the error.
“You know, I had managed to get him eating almost half his lunch without complaint until the ‘muesli incident’.”
lol…I love that woman. She happens to live right across the road from the family who watches Colt for us (and has since he started school) and we’ve been chatting a bit this summer. Might actually have her watch him in the mornings next school year and then let the kids take him in the afternoons. If nothing else she’s a great back up.
See how he brings the best people into our world? It’s Colt’s warm heart and beautiful soul that attracts them and makes them fall in love. I’ve never known a heart so warm. Here’s a lovely example from just a few days ago.
I worked late every night last week because I’m on VACATION FROM WORK FOR TWO WEEKS!!!!!!!! (first time ever taking two weeks in a row and first time I’m away from my current job while the rest of them are still there – which will be a living nightmare when I return but for now I couldn’t care less!) I was exhausted by Friday and almost in tears when I asked for, and was denied, a flex day so I could be paid to come in on the weekend to get everything set to go for my two weeks off. I worked for free for a few hours and then, bleary eyed and just absolutely out of energy, I wearily made my way to my car, climbing the stairs to the main floor of the hospital. Because of the nerve issues with my spine, I tend to develop a slight foot-drop when I’m very tired and, thanks to that and my ridiculously dangerous 5 inch wedges (that I am love with and will never stop wearing – well, until I break my neck I suppose) I managed to hook the top step with my stupid floppy foot that came out of nowhere and tumbled, ass over tea kettle, backwards down the stairs. Firstly, with my neck and spine, it’s a bad idea to fall down stairs. Second, and much more distressing to me, I had my phone out so I could tell Dayne I was on my way home. My phone….never mind my body….went flying out of my hand and I heard the most sickening crack as it landed. Not even bothering to see if I was damaged myself, I slid across the floor on my arse to check on my precious phone.
$800 of shattered glass met my devastated eyes.
Eight. Hundred. Dollars.
I am pretty frugal by nature and detest spending that amount of money on anything, ever, however, this phone is a computer to me. It is a music library with thousands of songs I love; a photo album with over 5000 of my cherished photos; is a photo editor that I use on all my photos, camera produced, digital and otherwise. It is my connection to my friends and work colleagues; my access to my blog and my world here; my FaceBook and Instagram and every silly game I play that wastes the hours of my weekends. It is my YouTube that I watch every single night and never turn the tv on. It’s all the things I love to do and entertain myself with…..I even sleep with it under my pillow so it can wake me in the morning with a gentle wake alarm that gets me up in between dream cycles. In short, the only thing I love more than that stupid phone is my family.
I made it to my car before bursting into tears but then sat sobbing like a little girl who just lost her most cherished teddy-bear. I called Dayne and, true to form, he first asked if I was okay and then expressed his frustration at the loss of eight hundred dollars worth of electronics.
“Why was it in your hand on the stairs?” He asked in not-so-gentle tones.
“I was trying, sob, to, sob, tell you I was on my way, sob-sniff-sniff-gulp, and I fell down the staaaaaaaaaaiiiiirs…” I wailed.
“Well. You’re going to have to make do with your iPad until next year when we can upgrade your old phone.” he said.
This made me cry even harder. I started to rationalize the situation and began coming up with ways to patch it together until next year. I mean, it worked fine….it was just a shattered glass screen (why the fuck do they make them out of glass anyway!!!???) and by the time I got home, I had a plan. I was going to buy a screen protector and use it to told the broken glass together and…well….see if it worked.
As I walked into the house, still shaken and puffy eyed, Colt met me at the door. He slipped outside onto the front steps before I got there.
“Look mom. Dad is pretty mad about your phone. He said that we have to get the car in for new brakes this week and we don’t have the money to buy you another damn phone.” Here he eyed me to see if I was going to scold him for the curse. I didn’t so he continued. “He told me that he is saving money to get you a really special present this year for your anniversary and he didn’t want to use that money on a phone (oh really now?!) so, because I don’t want you to be sad, I’ve decided you can have mine until yours is fixed.”
……..He decided I could what?
I totally forgot about the present curiosity. Dayne isn’t a big gift kind of guy….but that totally didn’t matter in that moment.
“Oh honey…” I started but a flood of tears stopped me.
Colt LOVES his phone as much as I love mine. He got my old phone when I upgraded through my plan a couple of years back and he has cherished every moment of it. He doesn’t even take care of his own teeth as well as he cares for that phone. When the WiFi goes down, he is devastated beyond consolation.
“Sweetheart,” I began, carefully choosing words so he would know what a lovely thing he had offered, “You are the most wonderful boy in the world and I appreciate your selfless offer. Thank you for loving me so much you would give up your phone, even for a day, but I wouldn’t take it from you even if I never had another phone again.”
The relief on his face was obvious as he threw his arms around me.
“I’m so sad for you about your phone mom!” he cried into my shoulder, tears of empathy soaking into my shirt.
Perspective huh? He hugged me so hard I struggled to breathe as I explained it was just a phone and that I was perfectly fine without one. I told him it was my own fault for not being careful (had to take the change to throw a lesson in there) and I told him that I was really sad but that he had healed my heart with his love, hugs and generous offer to share his phone with me.
“Mom. I know you would do anything for me and that you always love me, no matter what. (I tell him this all the time and it became a mantra when he was struggling in school, getting suspended every week and was drowning in guilt because he thought he was disappointing us). I know that if I broke my phone, you would share yours with me, so I wanted to do the same for you. I love you more than anything…..even more than my toys, my phone, my movies….even my most favourite ones.”
Seriously? This kid…..I think all the badness I’ve known in life was my quota and his. He doesn’t seem to have an ugly cell in his body.
“Now let’s go in and talk to Dad.” He said, tone turning all serious and mature. “I’ll make sure he isn’t mad okay? If he gets mad, don’t cry or yell, just close your mouth and let me do the talking. Okay?” I giggled and said okay, I’d let him take care of me. (this is the reverse speech I give him when he’s in trouble and we go to tell his dad. Colt is mortified when his dad is upset with him and Dayne feels so guilty it turns into a huge emotional swell that I usually manage to mitigate before it starts).
We bravely walked in, hand in hand, and found Dayne in the kitchen on the phone. He held out his hand to me and when I went to him he wrapped me into his free arm, pulling me close and kissed the top of my head.
“Are you sure you’re okay? Did you hurt your neck?” He whispered while someone on the line talked in his ear.
I nodded against him and then Colt joined in the hug.
“Okay. Yep. Oh that’s great!” Dayne was saying to the person on the phone. “So when will it arrive? Oh wow….okay. Am I ever glad we kept this insurance on the account! Oh yes, certainly…..add it to the new phone as well. Thank you so much, you’ve been a great help!”
Wait what? What insurance? I could barely keep myself from bouncing up and down interrupting his call. WHAT INSURANCE??? WHEN WILL WHAT ARRIVE??? OMGOMGOMG……did we have insurance?!
Amazingly, even though we had cancelled it years ago, we apparently had paid enough into a phone policy that we had one full replacement to claim. They sent me a brand new phone straight from Apple that arrived yesterday. I broke my phone at 630 Friday night and the phone arrived at my door by 10 am on Monday. All I have to do is swap the SIM (done) back it up to iTunes, restore my back up to my new phone and ship the old one back in 15 days. How unlike my life is that?
I sat in a daze for a few days….not really believing it. I figured it would be a refurb or some kind of scam but nope – here I have it in my hands, an exact replica of my old, white, iPhone 6, with all my 5000 photos and thousands of songs. It’s like it never happened. You want to know the best part though?
“Hey mom!” Colt cried when I got home from work yesterday, hopping from one foot to the next at the front door. “You’ll NEVER guess what I have for you!”
“Hmmmm…is it a welcome hug and a kiss from my favourite boy?” I guessed.
“NOPE!” he paused “Well, yes, but there’s something else too!” He gave me a hug and a kiss and then rushed on with his surprise.
He took my hand and led me inside the house where he had carefully set up my new phone and had it all charged up and ready to be activated.
“TA-DAAAAAAAAA!! Look mom! It’s a BRAND NEW PHONE and it’s just for you! Now you don’t have to be sad you broke your old one!”
Dayne came round the corner to say hello with a smile on his face. “He wanted to bring it to you at work but I convinced him to wait so you could play with it right away.”
Even without the phone……I’ve gotta admit, I’m one of the luckiest people I know.
And then to top it all off, it’s now one o’clock in the afternoon and I’m in my PJ’s eating a bowl of fresh blueberries with a smile as big as head. I’m awake, alert, happy, relaxed,
This is going to be one hell of a great two weeks. 🙂