Since his diagnosis, my son has demonstrated tenacity we’d never before known existed. My big kid, he of the one word answers, is not much one for talking about feelings, especially about things he perceives as difficult. He keeps things close, leaving us at times to wonder 1) Anybody in there??, or (or maybe and/or) 2) Does he not emote much because he’s disinterested in whatever the subject matter happens to be or is he adverse to sharing his feelings? Your mother’s heart pulls to feel like you don’t know your own child’s inner workings very well, but I understand that we all, each and every one of us, do things the way we are meant to do and experience them. I get all pissy when people tell me how I am supposed to feel or react, so I try not to place communicative demands or restraints on my son. I am a speech-language pathologist, so you can imagine how much a challenge it is for me to keep my mouth shut!
The kids did not have school yesterday, so I arranged to meet a friend and her son at a local pizza place to celebrate mid-semester break. Apparently we don’t celebrate actual holidays anymore, so it wasn’t that they were off for Valentine’s Day (as if) or President’s Day, no, just the middle of the semester, which is also wholly inaccurate because now the kids’ school years run in trimesters not semesters, so it’s not mid-anything really. Math is hard and all, but even I understand that the math does not work on this one. Sorry, wrong turn, I’m back. Ahem. The pizza place. . . It’s one of those warehouse joints with a buffet line a half-mile long, and a warehouse full of overpriced arcade games and attractions luring your kid in with the promise of tickets and the certainty of bankrupting his parents.
Upon our entry, the restaurant was selling MDA shamrocks. If you’re unfamiliar, the shamrock sale is one of those deals where retailers hit you up at point of purchase, asking if you are willing to spend an extra dollar or ten or hundred in support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. You sign your name on a themed tagboard cut-out the restaurant posts, acknowledging your donation and heralding your status as a benevolent human being. If you are us, you sign on the side that acknowledges the donation as being on your behalf. There were a couple toddlers crying at the pizza place yesterday, but probably just the one adult who misted up at the cash register. Well, the only one who misted up about MD shamrocks anyway. It cost us nearly 70 bucks to walk in the door, so probably there were some tears shed by other moms blowing the dust out of their wallets to pony up the pizza ransom.
Naturally my kid wanted more than the VIP experience–life would simply not be worth living were he not to get on the climbing wall. So because I am a good mom, and by good I mean guilt-ridden and crushed that my kid has this disease, I ponied up for the climb. I’m a sucker when my son wants to try something–anything–and I wonder sometimes if whichever activity he chooses will the be the last time, so I nearly always cave. My friend says she always goes for the upgrades too because her kids are nice and not into drugs and stuff, so go ahead, you just-say-no-ers! Live it up! I really like this friend.
He attempted two of the fixed walls, but could gain purchase no higher than four handholds or footholds up. He tried so hard, but in the end his shoulders and hips and arms and legs lost the battle. Breathing heavily, gripping with all his might, he fell. It wasn’t a hard fall and it was onto a mat, but even from a relatively low height, he fell off the wall then crumpled to the floor upon hitting the mat. His legs didn’t even have the strength to sustain his weight by this point. *sigh* You just don’t even know how fast the center of my chest raced before it collapsed in on itself. My boy’s first last time he’ll ever. . . I wondered about this last summer when our family went ice skating, but this time I know the first last is real.
Because the ropes are less fixed and allow for his feet to slide in and balance a tad more sturdily, he was able to hit the top of the ropes. Well, almost. It took way longer than the other kids in line, the other brats who huffed because they had to wait that much longer for my son to complete his turn, but he did it. He did it.