I was telling a friend yesterday about my year, “Yeah, it’s been a little rough, my one brother had a stroke, the other brother had a cranial brain surgery, the other brother passed away, I found out that I myself have a brain aneurism, (contrary to my post that said I had nothing to worry about), plus I went through a divorce and moved into a new (much smaller) place. But, hey, I’m still standing.”
Why is then is it that I could survive all that, but the moment your child does something as small as make a mess, it can bring me to my knees, cause a river of tears and put me to bed?
For those of you who may be reading a blog of mine for the first time, you should know that James is a ten-year-old happy little boy who has Down syndrome and Autism.
Every morning, on the way into school, James eats three pancakes, warmed in the microwave, on a paper towel. Not four, not two. No butter or syrup. And most days he eats them without incident. But occasionally, like today, he makes a mess.
And he does this by acting like a cow. Seriously, my son chews his cud.
He will stuff the pancake in his mouth, chew it, half way swallow it, and then regurgitate it back into his mouth. Really? I don’t know why he does this. Before I started writing this blog I placed a call to the Down syndrome clinic and the autism clinic hoping they could provide answers. Until they call back, I’ll keep writing.
I made it clear to James (so I thought) that if he made a mess with his pancakes he would not get to play with my iPhone, which is his most favorite thing to do. (You may be saying, “then just don’t give him the pancakes.” Which I know sounds like a great solution. But I would like you to be here tomorrow when he opens the door and there are no pancakes on the seat. There will be an eruption of emotion unlike I’m sure you’ve never experienced first-hand.)
James is quietly eating when I hear him say, “Moon!” I said, “No, that’s the sun buddy.” He loves the moon. And then, a few miles down the road, I hear gagging from the back seat.
I look and there is so much pancake shoved in the crevices of his sinus cavity, that his nose is now dripping with pancake snot.
Chewed pancake coming out of each nostril, which of course he tries to eat again. I am yelling, reaching back with a Wet One and trying not to swerve in order to catch it all. A half-box of Wet Ones later and it is over.
I walk James into school and he is covered in pancake. Pants, shirt, jacket, hair. I want to shout out to all the other parents, “I promise these are clean clothes and I truly did bath him last night.”
After the hand off to his aide, Ms. Bidini, I get in my car and sob all the way home. I’m mad.
I’m mad at God.
I’m mad at my inability to handle this. I’m mad that my brother had to die a horrible death. I’m mad that the holidays are approaching and I might not know how to handle it. I’m still mad that my mom had to die when she was only fifty-six, an age I’m quickly approaching.
And I mad that Ben & Jerry’s discontinued my favorite flavor of ice cream.
I round the bend on I-440 to see the moon. Still shining in the morning light. The sun is to my left, blinding the traffic and the moon is to my right. In between I see a billboard for St. Jude’s. An adorable bald little boy is fighting for his life. Then, at my freeway exit, there is a homeless family. Bundled up because today it’s cold.
I am sitting on my couch, in front of a fire. Waiting
for my new iPhone to ring bringing help to solve a pancake snot problem. Gratitude continues to heal.