For those of you who haven't seen him in a while, you would be amazed at how unbelievably tall he is. It makes no sense whatsoever because I am a midget and his sperm donor wasn't much taller, but he is nearly as tall as I am!
Right now he is sleeping on my love seat because he woke up at an extremely painful hour and could not get back to sleep. This seems to be happening a lot lately, and I am a little worried he has inherited my tendency for insomnia. But what has me feeling all mushy mommy is that even with how big he has grown, he still manages to make himself as small as he did when he was a toddler while sleeping. Curled up in the fetal position, it is easy to still see my baby lying there.
He isn't though. He has gone through so much this last year. Enough to need a therapist. I worry about him every day. Wondering what I can do, with the time I have, to help him through this phase in his life. I cannot imagine how confusing his situation is. I am three times his age and I am baffled by it every day. What must his mind be thinking about his complicated family dynamic?
I wish he were still going to St. Luke's for therapies. I wish he had an occupational therapist helping him with his fine motor skills and a physical therapist helping him use his right side the way he should. I wish I had control over such things, or even a say at all.
Sometimes I feel like the world around him is leaving him behind. Content with him being where he is now for the rest of his life. I feel that I am the only one who has dreams of him advancing enough to be independent as an adult. To live on his own, to fall in love, to have a family, to go to college. I want to see him graduate before he is 21, have a date for the senior prom, have his choice of colleges.
I guess all of that sounds superficial when you think that we almost lost him nine years ago. That he wasn't supposed to ever walk or talk again. But I can't help but want more for him.
I would like to think that is a normal wish for a parent to have. I know he will have a difficult time. I know he will experience bullying like even Jero and I won't understand. I know that he will have the hormones of a young man but may not have the mental capacity to make those decisions as an adult. I know all of this, but that doesn't mean I refuse to hope for something better.
We all want our babies to have lives like we never had. We all wish the world to be at their fingertips. A world full of happiness, fairness, justice, peace. We all want those things. Right?
I know that there are people out there devoted to disability advocacy. Who will continue to fight for the rights of children like Kel. But I also know that there are also cruel people out there who think that the only response to something different is devastation. I remember fighting for the kids in our school who had disabilities. Protecting them when boys would try to get them to lift their shirts or drop their pants. I remember that I was the only one. What if my son doesn't have a person like that? What if nobody in his school is brave enough to stand up and be a protector?
He has come to that delicate age where almost all children have an unbelievable meanness in them. Where they will now decide whether to continue to grow that cruelty or shove it down and choose a path of kindness and empathy. Sadly, too many choose to bully.
I know that even a full time parent can't protect their little ones from bullies all of the time. My coworker told her 11 year old to pop her bully in the mouth. The thing is, I don't believe in that either. I believe she did her child an injustice by not going to the school and demanding the suspension of said bully. I believe that if we can't be our children's bullet proof vest that we need to remove the bullets from their world.
When our children have the guts to speak up about being bullied, or seeing another child being bullied, we, as the adults in their lives, need to have the guts to do something about it.
I watched this episode of Extreme Home Makeover recently (it was a repeat) that was about a mom whose 11 year old son was being bullied and he hung himself. I can't imagine the life that child had at school that would make him think that was an answer to his pain. I believe every adult in that school and the parents of those bullies are responsible for the death of that young boy. I believe they failed him, and they failed those bullies.
It scares me to death. It scares me to think that my son is the same age. That we live in a town where being different is not embraced, and children as sensitive and caring as my kiddo are easy targets for hatred.
I am pleased as punch that he has grown another year. That he is a terrific speller and continues to amaze me with his kindness and courage as well as his ability to just know what the people around him need. I hope that through therapy and our time together that he will feel he has plenty of adults to turn to. Most of all I hope that we, as his advocates, do not fail him.
His birthday was a small one this year. I made a lopsided cake, as usual, and we celebrated with our little family. I don't know if he especially liked his birthday gift, but when I decided to give him my old iPod, he seemed to perk up. I had wanted to get him an MP3 player for Christmas, but surprisingly the tribe sent him one instead. Except it broke the next day. Because I spent that extra money on some new clothes for him, I decided to give him mine. He has a hard time with a little bit of big brother bullying at home, and he needed a private way to check out for a bit.
He will have a tough adolescence, I know this. I guess we all did/do.
Please, talk to your kids about bullying. Let's make sure they understand that the bullied have NOTHING to be ashamed of. That they are not the ones doing anything wrong and it is perfectly acceptable to tell an adult. It doesn't make them a snitch or a tattle-tale, it makes them strong and confident. And let us also make sure that our kids understand that bullying is NEVER acceptable. There is never a reason to treat another person with anything less than respect and kindness. Let's let them know that if they bully, there will be severe consequences. If we shrug it off as "kids will be kids" how will they ever learn that this is a real threat to our children?
Maybe if we all band together to stop bullying, we can also take a collective deep breath and find something else about our kiddos to worry about.
So, Happy Birthday to my baby (because he always will be even when he's officially taller than me)! And here's to many more birthdays to come for all of our babies.
So, hug 'em, support 'em, and teach 'em compassion!