Thursday, March 25, 2010

What is wrong with your son?


brought to me by Kai on a sunny yesterday

The question pierced me this morning. Tears fell as I walked away. Sadness filled my heart.

Yet, I came away from the situation renewed and comforted by an understanding bigger than my sadness. I came away knowing that there WAS something wrong with my son.

We waited for the bus(s) to come in the rain. My son's bus comes at 8:11am and my daughter's at 8:13am. Kai's bus takes him to his preschool within another elementary while my daughter attends the elementary school within our boundaries.

The timing of each bus schedule is perfect for us. As soon as I buckle him into his seat and wave goodbye, my daughters' bus turns around the corner to pick the other children up.

However, the moment Kai began riding the bus to his school it confused a lot of the children since his comes at relatively the same time. Eventually all the children and parents realized that the first bus was just for him.

This morning was the usual. I still panic every day that he rides because he's only FOUR, but he loves it and it's a good situation for us right now. He is the second stop of children to be picked up for his pre-school, so the bus is always empty except for another little boy with autism.

We saw his bus come around the corner and the other children remained playing with the knowledge that it wasn't their turn yet. Kai and I said hello to the bus driver and his classmate, buckled the seat belt and gave kisses before I walked back down the steps and out the door. Brianna and I waved through the window while he smiled back, and then she asked if I would stay until her bus arrived a minute later.

As hers was being loaded I chatted lightly with a grandfather about the nasty weather today compared to yesterday's full sunny bloom. He was the epitome of a "mountain man". Gruff on the outside, but you could see he was gentle and kind. He suddenly stepped a little closer and with a slight whisper asked, "I have been meaning to ask.. what is wrong with your son?"

Knowing what kind of man he was I immediately responded without sharpness and said, "oh nothing! He has a speech delay so he attends another school that caters to that." I knew his word of "wrong" simply meant "different." I was casual. I was cool. There was no reason to be offended because offense was not offered to me from him. Just simple curiosity. Unfounded of course, because the only thing different about Kai in my eyes is that he attends another school.

We smiled and said our goodbyes and I ran to my car while the sky cried large drops. I closed my door and sat behind my steering wheel.

I couldn't turn on the ignition. The reality of what he said and what I said began caving in on me. I was wounded. My defenses were down. He was right. Unknowingly and unobtrusively right.

I remembered how my son has apraxia. I remembered how my son goes to a school only with other children who have delays. I remembered how we have to work with him every day to pronounce syllables correctly and to curb his frustration and to not hit. I remembered that just last month he bit his toes and fingers so badly they bled and he continued to do so regardless. I remembered that he's not like your child.

I had forgotten because what we deal with is the norm for our family. Each stage in his life is all we have ever known for him, and we embrace each and every growth. He's preparing to attend kindergarten in a year. He's preparing to be like everyone else, but he is not. We are hopeful, but right now he is not.

I explained to my MIL through my tears what had transpired. She was nonchalant as well. "But he seems just fine. You would never even think something was wrong," she said.

I know that. He is fine. And we are fine because it is what we know, but we are different. He rides a different bus. He attends a different school. Embracing that difference is what matters most and I know that now.

It was good to be reminded.

I am proud to say that there is something different about my son. Not wrong, but his battle at this point in life is truly and innately his own. Different from anyone else.

I remembered. And I am oh so grateful for that.


Annette W. said...

You know I have teary eyes right now, don't you?

When Meghan didn't speak I found myself explaining that she has a speech disorder all the time. I felt I needed to explain why she is different.

We're in a different place now. Now I love hearing the words, even if not spoken correctly. And I'm so proud.

Like Kai, Meghan rides a bus. Unlike the rest of the neighborhood, her bus will come year round. For those who don't already know...I'm sure they will realize that she is different soon enough.

Different. Not wrong.

I really appreciated your gracious reply and that you didn't take offense.

carlisle clan conversation... said...

Sending you a GREAT BIG HUGE Momma hug from Texas!

aimee said...

Have you seen the new series Parenthood? One situation with one of the families reminds me a bit of this post.

Like Annette I think it was cool of you not to take offense although you were affected by his question. You are a great mom.

Pittman Four said...

I love the differences in each child... I love my job. It's amzing to see the growth each day and the differences getting smaller, and they do get smaller. Those differences bring "us" closer to our Father. There's not a day that goes by as a Special Education teacher that I don't feel the spirit in what I do.

wilkinson_fam said...

Bless your heart. Being a parent can be so heartwreching at times! And yet, would we trade it for anything else? Definitely not.

Prayers for Kai. And his mommy.

gkgirl said...

big hugs from here, too...
and you are an amazing mom.
you really and truly are.

Evelyn Perkins said...

My son was diagnosed with some speech delays too...nothing like this, but still enough that makes him a little "different".

The way you write and express what is so heavy on your heart just pricks mine. You mentioned earlier that we could be best friends...I think you're right. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in such beautiful ways. Even when the thoughts initially appear not-so "beautiful".

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