Written on Wednesday night when I came home from a evening out in the neighborhood.
I was feeling the happiness only a few margarita’s can provide, buzzy, light, and slightly numb. I needed it, the evening had completely fallen apart around dinner time. A meltdown. Lots of screaming — you can’t have a meltdown in this house without the eardrum shattering vocals. I wanted to get out, but I also didn’t want to go. Because sometimes it feels like an act, like I am a big fake, because it feels like I have nothing in common with these other moms. My desire to escape won over the part of me that wanted to hide alone in a bathtub full of bubbles. I caught my sister as she and her next door neighbor were leaving, they drove up the hill to pick me up.
But in the end the margaritas were not enough. Because I cannot escape this reality, our reality, his reality. It so often rocks me to my core. And so even though I should be sleeping off my margarita(s), I am awake at my computer, clumsily typing out my thoughts, reliving the simplest of conversations.
I had told a cute little story about my 1st grade nephew calling me his “friend’ and then his “mom’s friend” when a classmate asked him who I was at school a couple weeks ago. I mentioned that I also saw my 4th grade niece in the hallway and said hi. I worried that I may have been too enthusiastic the last time I saw her, I wondered if I embarrassed her. My sister reveals that her daughter tells her when she sees me at school…and that one day a classmate had asked her how she knew the Roc’s mom. This girl’s little sister (a first grader in the Roc’s class) doesn’t like the Roc… those words came in like a punch I didn’t see coming. I couldn’t help it, I deflated. I tried to ask what was said, knowing that I wouldn’t know what actually was said, I asked who the girl was, who the sister might be, the faces of the Roc’s classmates flashing through my mind. A name was dropped with a question, and I saw this girl in my mind and felt an internal crushing.
A little girl in the Roc’s class talked about how she didn’t like him at home or on the bus, it doesn’t matter where really, somewhere and enough times that her 4th grade sister knew who I was. Knew who the Roc was. Spewed that her little sister didn’t like my kid. How many times has this happened?
Someone next to me piped up that her son didn’t seem to care about friendship and the ladies started sharing little bits about their own boys and friends, shaking their heads. They went around the table, “it’s BOYS!” they agreed. “They just don’t care or communicate like girls do!” they said with smiles. “Boys just don’t do friendships like girls!” they took heart in their agreement. “Boys!” they sighed. It’s just because they are boys. What can you do? seemed to be the consensus. Not for me, I felt no peace from these sentiments.
I looked down at the table, my eyes memorizing the color and pattern of the wood, swiping over the chairs, comparing them to the chairs at my parents house. How alike, my mind registered as I detached myself from the conversation. Because it’s so much more than the Roc just being a BOY. So much more. A gulf separates me from those who can shake their heads and mutter Boys! with a charming smile. The mountain I climb stretches out before me, the peak hidden in the clouds.
A mountain I often feel that I do not have the tools to climb. Wasn’t I supposed to take classes on this? Where’s the instructor? I forgot my book! Do we have a quiz? Aren’t we going to do a test run? I don’t think I’m physically able! Where are the clamps? The rope? Huh? I have to climb now? No safety net? No fall back? It’s just me? What? Are you kidding me?! What if I fall? Shit! I don’t think I can do this!
I thought about my boy, my Roc, how hard he works to be in this world that doesn’t always make sense to him. I thought about this little girl and wondered what her parents say about differences, wondered if she ignores the Roc, or if she watches him, giggling at him with other children.
My boy who is over run with anxiety all.the.time. Who is mainstreamed, and as far as I’ve been told, is holding it together…but…who still cannot hold an unprompted conversation with a peer. Who cannot read facial expressions. My kid who struggles with change, who struggles with certain academics, who struggles to interact and fit in. My boy who likes to be around kids. Who cannot figure out why he doesn’t have friends…who recently cried when he told me for the very first time that he didn’t have a friend.and.it.broke.my.heart. The air in the room was gone as his voice cracked and I held his gaze. My boy. He works so hard every day and 99.9% of people do not realize this about him.
That is what I thought about as they smiled and grumbled about the nature of boys.
Because it’s so much bigger than that for me, for him. So much so that I do not have adequate words to describe what it is like to see your child struggle, to try to teach your child to read people, to say hello, to not scream when things do not go the way they want, and on and on. Everything must be taught. From the simplest steps to the biggest. Everything. It’s so much to carry, so heavy I feel crushed by it’s weight, by my fears of the future.
It is so much more than him being a BOY. So much more.
As the buzz wears off, here I sit in front of a blinking cursor, not looking up, slightly grateful that the mountain peak is hidden in the clouds. I’m scared to see how far we have to go. I remind myself again that we’ve come so far, and we are still moving up. One foot in front of the other. I’ll carry my heart and my son with me.