Terror in his eyes
Teeth bared and a sob escapes
His body shaking
As he reaches for me
Clasps to me

I can't think of anything
But to get him away
Away from the fear
To stop the sobs
The bared teeth
The fear in his eyes
As he clutches to me

Down the stairs
The screaming
Nasty words
Just a distant drum
As I scramble to get him away
Away from the fear
As he grips my shoulders

His eyes when I dare to glance
Tell me all I need to know
Leave, go away, away from the fear
Give him a promise
As I clasp him

Broken objects mirror broken hearts
Broken souls
Broken defeated fearful sad
I set him in the car
And he begins again
Sobs, shaking, terror
And I pull him to my lap
Anger just a distant background drum
Holding him against me

I promise him it will be okay
As his hand clutches mine in his
Tears still falling, silently
As I point out the big, round moon in the sky

I see the moon and the moon sees me
God bless the moon and God bless me
We chant together, fearful, unsure
His hand still wrapped in mine

No, don't go home yet, he begs
And I drive on, worried, fearful, scared, upset
But remembering the terror and unable
To place him in that moment yet again
Fear in his eyes
Trembling as he clasps onto me

I carry him inside
No more screaming
nasty words
Still afraid, clutching to me
Just take me to my bed
And I do, holding him

And the moon, round and big
And bright in the sky
Isn't peaceful, but looks
like a great
in my chest

As his sleep is filled
with jerks and sighs
I hold him, tears silently falling
On his cheek
As I kiss him
Holding him


A Soccer Dream

Parents are forced to make a lot of tough decisions. Decisions that play a part in who our child is, who he will become. Our decisions form our child's future. And some decisions we make, we just don't know what is right. We can only listen to our child, take our experience, and hope we do what is right. At this time, I am facing such a decision. It's one that has me filled with pride, but also uncertainty as to what is right.

Last night, one of the board members of Jari's soccer club dropped by to speak with us. Jari is currently on a team for kids under 9, and next year will move up to the under 10 team. He is one of 2 kids on the team who plays really well, and proved himself again and again this past year in technique, speed, and scoring. He is the best in his class (I say that with pride).

He has always been extremely shy, and with that shyness there's a tiny piece of him that holds back. Towards the end of the season, we noticed that our son was becoming more aggressive (in a good, sport way) and becoming more self-assured in his abilities. He didn't let a bigger player get in his way, but fought to get a ball or used tricks to make a play. He is a fun player to watch, and we were extremely proud of him for conquering his fear and going for it. It only made him better.

So, last night we get the visit. They asked us if we would be willing to allow Jari to skip the under 10 group and move into the under 11 team. That means he would be skipping an entire age bracket, and seeing that he is the youngest on his team (August birthday) and also the smallest for his age, he could be competing against kids 2 years his senior. The soccer club feels Jari is ready to advance, and doesn't want to hold him back by placing him in the under 10 team. They feel that physically he has enough strength to move up, and his talent for soccer is strong enough that he would still be successful.

As this question was posed, a great searing pride swept through me. I couldn't help but let a smile brighten my face. I knew my son was a good player, but this means others also see his talent for the game. As my smile beamed, something else starting forming in my mind. Technically he may be ready, but how about emotionally, mentally, and physically? Would he be able to handle playing with kids so much larger than him, with more experience, and on a team without any of his current teammates or classmates? Would his self-assuredness that he's been working so hard to achieve become oppressed? Would he be able to understand that being on a team a year further would probably mean he will no longer be the little star of the team, that he may not be the high scorer, that he may have difficulty stealing a ball? And if a kid 2 years his senior happens to kick him, will his body physically be able to handle the pain of someone larger and stronger? Does he need the experience of another year before moving into the big leagues?
This morning I spoke with my physical therapist and asked her what the pros and cons were physically. She said her biggest concern would be the fact that soccer players muscles become shorter from working out, and when going through a growth spurt could cause a lot of pain, as well as need for therapy to help lengthen them. Being that he would be working his body harder than the other players to physically keep up could cause him to stress his body parts, but that soccer is a good form of fitness and would also keep him in shape. So, her suggestion was to watch closely and make sure his body could physically handle it so he wouldn't end up hurt and unable to play at all.

After the soccer guy left, Jari had lots of questions. I saw a smile start to form in his eyes and work it's way to his lips. He looked at us and when I asked him if he knew what this all meant he clearly stated: I'm a good player so I can play with the big kids. The smile still plastered across his face. The rest of the night last night, he spoke of nothing else. He named all the kids on the under 11 team, he told us of each of their strengths and weaknesses, he talked about the coach. And when I tucked him in, I told him how very proud I am of him, my little soccer star. And when I asked if he wanted to move up, his response was an overwhelming "YES! if you and papa will please let me!" There was still a smile on his face as his head nestled into the pillow and I told him we would talk about it.

So, my son's dream is to become a soccer player. It's the dream of so many little boys, to be a professional sportsman. However, my son has a talent to back that dream. But what is best for him? What choice can I make to help him further that dream? What is mentally, physically, and emotionally best? This is another of those tough parenting decisions.

But I still have a smile plastered on my face too. His dream is my dream, and there's a chance that it will come true!


A New Idea

Yesterday found me at another appointment at Kaeden's school. Seven people sitting around the table with notebooks in front of them, folders stacked next to them, pens in hand ready to add to the already huge stacks of papework filled with information about my son. My son. Not some kid down the street, not just stacks of notes and tests and papers, but my son.

Sitting there in that meeting, I realized how far I have come as the mother of my child. I have become harder, more opinionated, stronger. As his mother, I know what I feel is best for him, for me, for our family. Maybe my views aren't always correct, but they are views made out of need, out of love, out of doing the best I know how to do for my child. Always, his life and his future is placed open up in my palm, and I carefully close my fist around it, hoping and praying that I hold onto it tight, strongly, never let it fall.

I spoke loudly and clearly, expressing my worries and concerns. I gave my opinion and held strong onto my viewpoint, even as others struck down my ideas. They may be the experts in the field, but I am the expert on my son. His happiness and his success is determined by how far I push, how far I step out of my comfort zone. He hasn't gotten as far as he has without the strength and integrity I give as his mother. I have been a force behind the success he has achieved. I am the oil that helps his engine run. I need to be thick and dark and greasy.

I listen to what they say, and I accept it all into my mind wholly. And then I form my own opinions based on their advice and expertise. And I add in my own thoughts and experiences and knowledge about my son to form an opinion and a goal. And I push to see this goal met. And sometimes I agree to try something out, give it a chance, in an attempt to further my son's achievements, even if I don't know that it ill be successful, but always willing to try something new. To give ideas a chance, if I feel it has any chance. He deserves all of our ideas and input and trials to find that one thing that works, the one thing that will help him be the best he can be.

Next school year, Kaeden is one of just 5 students who will be entering a new program. A program formed and created specifically for him, and 4 other young men just like him. Kids who have diffculties fitting into the school norms, difficulty learning when contacts prevent them from concentrating. This new program is brand new, based upon a successful program offered in another school, and my son is a guinea pig in the trial. It scares me, but excites me. I offered my ideas, I disqualified some of their input, and I gave them permission to allow my son to be part of this. I think Kaeden will be happy with our choices and decisions. I hope he will be able to prove his success and achievements given freedom within the program. And I think he won't mind being part of this new world opening up to him, a new program designed for him and hopefully working itself out to help hundreds of autistic kids in the future. I hope this decision will be one that helps him to shine...

Kaeden will be the first student to be part of this trial. I'm glad he loves guinea pigs.


Medical Issues

I got an email from Kaeden's home away from home yesterday. I had requested that they start giving him his allergy pills as he was all stuffed up and miserable throughout the weekend, and his pills did manage to offer him some relief. The email was simple, asking if he took pills or drops, but it hit me very hard.

See, my kid, from the time he entered this world, has had numerous medical issues. I'm not sure I understand, sometimes, why one individual is faced with so many challenges. When Kaeden was born he had trouble breathing, very shortly, but needed to be in an incubator none-the-less. When he was about 6 months old, he suffered his first bout of RSV. When he was 9 months old he experienced a seizure with fever which left him hospitalized for nearly a week. And thereafter, my little guy was coontinually in a battle with one ailment or another, his asthma and RSV serious issues which left us hospitalized for months every year. On one of these visits, my little baby actually had to be resuscitated to live.

The doctors offices were our second home, the medications they prescribed keeping him alive with worries about what the side effects could mean in the future. See, he wasn't just on a series of steroids, but series after series, well beyond the indicative amount. But, he was staying alive, taking his breathing treatments and nose cleans 4 times daily like the little trooper that he is. And then, suddenly, he started having major issues with his teeth, where surgery was required to fix them. Was this one of the side effects they couldn't predict from the use of medications? And his skin, so tender and itchy and covered in scales, exzema, was this another side effect? Or was my kid just one of the unlucky ones?

He had to have tubes in his ears from his numerous ear infections, he was one of the kids that actually got a bout of chicken pox from the vacciation, complete with fever and his little body full of dots. He was the kid you would see with tubes covering his little face as he walked, an oxygen tak dragging behind him, a requirement in order for him to breathe. And then, around the tender age of three, having withstood so much already, began his little, mini moments of behavior problems, first signaling to me that there was something deeper wrong with my son.

I had his hearing tested, I took him to a developmental center to see if he was on schedule developmentally. He was kicked out of day cares, and as a single working mom in school, I was the only one there to shoulder these burdens. My parents helped as much as they could, which was a lot, but they didn't live right next door. It was just me and my son.

As Kaeden's behavior issues got more serious, and he was shuffled from school to school, therapy to therapy,we were finally given a diagnosis of ADHD. He started taking ritalin, which helped, but not fully. Give or take another year of issues, and he was diagnosed with Autism. Give or take a few years, add allergies to the mix. Give or take a few years, add Oppositional Defiance Disorder, but not becuase they're convinced he has it, completely, but because it will allow him to have more services...so, I signed the papers...what's one more diagnosis in the life of this child's full account of diagnosis?

Recently, during a sportday at school, Kaeden was having trouble breathing. When I was told, I went into panic mode. I haven't witnessed him having issues with his asthma for 9 years now. The fear that settled in me struck me to the core. Nobody else can possibly understand this fear as I relived all those days in hospitals with my son hooked up to tubes and living in breathing tents. I'm still watching him very closely.

My son, asthma, allergies, ADHD, autism...all the A's. Add in a few more figures and it just seems like this boy of mine has been fighting from the start of his life. And a fighter he is...add another A for aggression. But is it any wonder? Look what this child has been subjected to in his short 15 years here on earth. Could any of us be where he is having withstood so many issues throuhout his short life?

When I give my son his medication, 6 pills in the morning, 4 at lunch, 4 at night, it alwyas pains me. As much as I know that it helps him to function, I'm still, after all these years having to pump him full of medication to help him survive. Just when does a kid get a break? And why, dear God, is one kid the focus of so many ailments? Because as strong as he is, some days it just takes one little email asking which kind of medicine, to send his mom off the deep end. Some days it just aches.


This Is Life

The clothes are all folded, pulled from the washline outside as the sun dried them throughout the afternoon, but not yet put away in closets where they're supposed to be. The fish tank is cleaned, looking rather fresh after the green that had slowly developed over the past month. The guinea pigs are munching on green beans, their cage filled with hay, their water bottle fresh and cool. The dishes are all washed, but not towel dried, and the stove is free of dinner grease and the table free of food spills. Erwin is snuggling in bed as Jari flutters off to dreamland, after a day of school and then playing with a friend. Kaeden gave me his goodbye kiss this morning as the bus hauled him away to his home away from home for the week, his bag full of prized possessions draped over his shoulder. The walls are all painted, fresh and clean, and I gaze at them again and again, a satisfaction overcoming me in the cleanliness. Emails have been sent to wish Happy Birthdays to friends, another to the doctor asking for prescriptions. My agenda faces me on the desk, knitting out my week ahead.

This is life. Just these little tasks and chores and the everyday stuff that comes with living. Watering my flowers and feeling the excitement as they grow. Sweeping off the deck outside knowing the rain will come tonight and wash the remains away. Turning on the kettle to boil water for a cup of tea. Lighting a scented candle and watching the flame make shadows on the wall, fresh and oatmeal white.

It's the little things. Life is not a flaming ball of perfection. It isn't as much fun as opening a prettily wrapped surprise. It's not like two magnets attaching with a force that can't be parted. It's not like opening the mailbox and finding not only bills and ads, but also a hand-written letter saying hello. Or opening the inbox to find a quick note from a friend. It's not like walking into my home after a busy day of chores to hear the phone ringing and my mom's voice on the end of the line, and even though I really had no desire to talk to anyone, it's a feeling of comfort and acceptance.

So, though life may not always be wonderful, may not always be filled with happy surprises, it is life, and it is comfortable. I play games with my children, snuggle next to my husband, laugh with my friends, do what needs to be done...life is life...and mine is quite okay.