The weather has changed sharply. Last week it was topping out at 107 degrees -- Sean and I scrambling for relief in the public fountain park and the local pool -- and today the thermometer is struggling to make it to the seventy mark. It has just passed mid-summer, as far as the school calendar goes, and the school year is less than five weeks away. And honestly, I am worn out.
Sean needs constant movement so we have taken advantage of going for long walks in the cool mornings, just the two of us and the incredibly irritable scrub jays arguing in the treetops. During our walks, Sean skips and turns and breaks out into full-on sprints. He loops back to me and asks me more of the same questions,
"Why you have a nose?” “
What was your Grandma’s name?", and
What cartoons did you watch when you were a little girl?”
Sometimes, exhausted from this, I don’t answer him and he says to himself, “God gave you your nose. Margaret is both your grandmas and you used to watch Felix the Cat.”
Over and over this routine goes. We stop at a park in the middle of the path and Sean heads to the monkey bars, his arms and shoulders already showing signs of muscular development as he effortlessly pulls himself back and forth across the bars. He swings on the tire swings and goes down the silver slide. It is early enough so we have the park to ourselves. He starts his questions again.
"What is your Papa’s name?”
“How many people are named Mike?”
“Where is my Grandma from?”
I answer him (“Tim, Lots of Mikes, Ireland”) although sometimes to myself I think, “Please stop talking. No more questions.” This thought is quickly followed by a dose of guilt. He is my child. Clearly, it gives him comfort to go over and over with this routine. Be a good sport and play along.
Sean does not have much in the way of friends. Most children don’t know what to make of the boy who is clapping and hopping, making odd noises. There are few, if any, camps and activities for children like mine. He wants friends and he wants to play sports (“Daddy, what sport can I play?“ He asks when his brother is dressed in equipment for hockey or football or lacrosse) but he struggles to do either. Sean has to work twice as hard (if not more) than his typical peers. He is wired differently. Things we all take for granted are hard work for him.
As a parent, it can be extremely sad to see this -- a little turtle trapped lying on it’s shell, it’s small arms and legs kicking up in the air. I wish I could “right” it for him (and I wish it were that easy) -- place him correctly on the ground and watch him scatter away with an army of friends or onto a baseball field with teammates. What comes so naturally for my older son is a complete puzzle for Sean. He wants it but he's not quite sure how to get it.
It can be a lonely world for him. When I am annoyed with his questions and feel crowded by his constant company I will remind myself that he has the same needs as any of us -- the comfort of others, the need to be listened to and the desire to belong. It’s really that simple.
9 months ago