This morning on the way up to brush teeth James came across a red craft feather on the stairs, likely from one of Adam’s secretive and destructive treks across the house.
James: Look, a red feather!
Me: Wow, very pretty.
James: I can write with this today (holds feather up like a quill).
Me: Like in Harry Potter?
James: Yeah, see? (proceeds to “write” on the bathroom counter)
Me: Pretty cool. Where do you think it came from? Read more…
My dear daughter turned four this past weekend. 4! It always amazes me how four years have passed so quickly while one Monday can take forever (seriously, I know it’s Thursday but I started this on Monday). And apparently James had the same feelings about Margaret’s birthday party. While we would never dare decorate with balloons, this year’s festivities included a homemade pinata (which once upon a time contained a balloon and is therefore on the list of phobias) and the ever-endearing-but-just-out-of-tune-enough-to-make-James-hide-and-cry-somewhere birthday song.
And James doesn’t just hide and cry during Happy Birthday. He’s been around the block enough times by now to fret in anticipation of the tune for the entire day leading up to the big event, and then during the party until the song is over. He also made himself scarce when everyone went downstairs to gleefully beat the crap out of the pinata – you know, the one it took a week to build and ten minutes to destroy. His nervous behavior is expected by now, and we let him deal with it how he sees fit on a party-by-party basis – some go more smoothly than others. We let him know when it’s time for each event and invite him to join us, but don’t make him. And in general he doesn’t. But this year, James’s mood didn’t automatically improve after the song was over.
When I went up to tuck him into bed I found him pretending to browse through his favorite Sonic the Hedgehog comic with an almost comically worried look on his face. Read more…
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Click the Water Cooler tab for a quick smile this morning.
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If only to further demonstrate why special needs sports teams (and dad as coach) are so important to James:
James is in italics, my responses are in bold.
Mom I have to tell you something.
What is it? Can you wait for one second? (I’m brushing James’s teeth at the moment, but James remains undeterred.)
Something happened yesterday.
I got punched in the chest, like this. (punches himself in the chest with one fist, like half of a gorilla)
Punched in the chest? Where?
What? What happened?
A Raptor punched me in the chest, like this. (punches himself again for full effect)
Yeah, not a Grizzly. He was on the other team.
Why would they do that?
I don’t know.
Did you get upset?
(frowns) Yeah, a little.
Did you tell an adult or another coach?
You should always tell if someone hurts you, James. Dad is the coach – you can always tell him, at least.
(approaching Ryan a few minutes later, who is brushing his own teeth)
Hey, did you know James was punched in the chest yesterday by some kid on the Raptors?
Ryan: (pauses, sighs) He was tagged out.
Growing up my dad used to tell us long, elaborate, wildly fantastical stories – at bedtime, on one of our many camping trips or basically anytime the mood struck him. I’m grateful to have inherited some of my dad’s story-telling genes and am equally happy to share another one of his tales with you (this time 100% true), about him and James.
Stopping To Smell The Roses
by Michael Gerrity
The Roman philosopher Seneca once said that a good memory is the best gift that you can give yourself and James has provided more than a precious few. One day sticks out in particular – I get a chuckle every time it comes to mind.
About four years ago when Michaela and Ryan were moving to Manhattan, I had James at my hotel in Times Square. I was in town on business and they were looking for apartments. I decided to take James to Toys R Us. At that point in his life he was most definitely not interested in the giant indoor ferris wheel so we ended up buying a basketball to take outside. I was wondering where we could toss it around when James came up with a great idea. If I would just stand on the corner of 51st and Broadway and make my arms into a hoop he could use me as a net. So for about 30 minutes James shot baskets using my face as a backboard. Even being in NYC we attracted a bit of attention, but we were creating a great memory and having a fantastic time.
After I was exhausted and dirty enough, I convinced James we should retire to our hotel. James agreed after finding out the hotel had Sponge Bob Square Pants on their TVs (apparently not something found on TV at home). We entered the lobby elevator – my room was on the 17th floor. As we entered we were followed by one of the hotel security staff – a big burly looking fellow and a tall young woman dressed in a chic black gown and carrying a dozen red roses. We said hello. Neither of them responded. Before we hit the fourth floor James had asked twice if he could smell the lady’s roses. She and the security man continued to stare at the elevator door without flinching, as if engrossed in some Escher drawing or a Broadway Play. It was bit uncomfortable as James continued to request a sniff, and as we approached the 8th floor they both kept staring straight ahead.
At this point I just wanted the ride to be over (desperately). Then James turned and looked up at me and said in a quiet, but crystal clear voice, “Grandpa I really wish I could smell those roses.” Now the silence from our elevator companions was nearly unbearable. Just when I thought I could take no more of their ignorance of James, the cool lady broke, bent down and said “Would you like to smell the roses?” It was all James wanted and he took one long sniff of sniffs. I could not help but notice the smile on the woman’s face as she watched James’s grateful reaction. From the corner of my eye I caught the big burly security man staring straight ahead and grinning from ear to ear.
Embarrassing? Sure. But it was also a most memorable and beautiful moment – especially to see how his quiet, innocent persistence brought some joy and smiles to others, despite themselves. Thanks James for helping us all “stop and smell the roses.”
It’s been a really rough, long night. But in “special needs land” rough doesn’t always mean fighting, tantrums, illness or accidents. I often get to the end of one of these doozies and think to myself, how on earth could I ever explain to anyone why tonight was so utterly exhausting? How could I even explain tonight, period? So instead of regaling you with the half a dozen ways this evening was difficult (look at me not exaggerating numbers – go new year’s resolutions!) I am going to just share one story in particular to better describe the rabbit hole I find myself in from time to time.
Tonight I baked cookies with the kids for our bedtime treat – it’s a fun, less rowdy activity to get everyone geared down for the evening. We were all feasting on cookies and milk at the table when I noticed that James had suddenly and quietly begun weeping into his hands.
“James, what on earth is wrong?” I asked. No answer. “James? Are you okay?” Nothing. “Okay, James you have to tell me what is going on.”
“Just a sad video,” he mumbled. “What?” I asked. I had no idea what he could be referring to since we had not been “plugged in” for at least 30 minutes.
“There was a really sad video,” he said again. He continued to cry in earnest as his two younger siblings devoured their cookies, oblivious (or just used to?) the meltdown James was having.
I started to get a bad feeling because he had been watching youtube on his ipod earlier in the evening – occasionally he has stumbled onto weird, not-so-great things (searching for trains, gets a train crash). We’ve tried to filter/block what we can and are vigilant about checking his ipod, but with the busy evening had I missed something?
“What was the sad video?” I asked nonchalantly.
“It’s about a parrot,” James sobbed. “It was really sad.”
So I got his ipod and looked up the video and my heart sank – the last title was “Kill Senegal Parrot – Christmas Parrot.” What the hell kind of sick stuff had he stumbled onto?
“James, what have you been watching?! We’ve talked about youtube!”
“It’s so sad mom,” he cried into his hands.
I turn back with a sick pit in my stomach, to force myself to watch the video that has so horribly upset James. And then I did a double take.
Kili Senegal Parrot – Christmas Parrot. Not Kill. Kili…?
I clicked on the link and watched the minute and a half tearjerker unfold before my eyes. I encourage you to watch the video as well by going to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lBiurZe9QU, so you can fully appreciate why James was so distraught this evening.
I hope you enjoyed watching this video half as much as I did (though giddy with relief, I mercifully kept all smirks to myself around James). How will I ever be able to properly filter my son’s videos? Is there a G+ rating for “includes dramatic music?”
Has anyone else experienced this “phobia of emotional music” before? It seems to be intensifying in James – tonight he cried about this video for several hours, even as I made fake retching sounds while reading Garfield comic strips to him as part of his bedtime reading (I was that desperate). He asked me if his glass of water “would make him feel less sad” and as I left his room told me to see if I could find happier videos on his ipod for the morning.
But let me ask you, what is happier than watching Kili eat nuts from a Christmas stocking?