Category Archives: Ethan

Nearly Normal

I toted Sean to an ‘unfamiliar to us’ playground. We gathered our things, exited the car and headed for the location.

As we walk through the gate and onto the splash pad, I instantly feel something is different. This is a completely foreign experience and I am not used to it.

Mom’s keep talking to each other, and no one turns around. Not one little kid stops in their tracks to watch us as we come through the gate. There is no undo attention. He simply joins the other kids.

No one pretends that they are not looking at us.

This is because it is the right season to be out of school. Not one person – never mind three – ask him ‘What, no school today?’ He is not a teenager, missing some class period, in the middle of the day. He has just the right skin color for no one to be concerned that he is at the park alone. He matches me perfectly and no one asks ‘is that your son’ or where I got him. He has all of his hair and no one gives him that pitiful looks reserved for children with cancer. He has just the right number of chromosomes and his behavior falls into pretty acceptable social norms.

So we blend.

It is incredibly strange. I don’t often realize the way that I steel myself for the situations I will find myself when I am in the company of several or all of my boys. I get it, and I don’t. Some days I have more tolerance for it and some days less. It’s always there, but during this experience, in it’s absence, I feel a hard time relaxing and settling into quiet oblivion.

It’s odd being nearly normal.

Beach Brawl

There are times I say nothing. There are times I decide that I’m going to let it go, rise above and turn the other cheek.

There are times I decide that I am not going to do that.

Ethan was having a particularly hard time on the beach last night. He is apt to do that. He went from ‘happy man’ to ‘I’m going home’ within the hour. Doritos and a coke had no bribery value. I believe he was using the ploy to visit the men’s room as a mode to get closer to the parking lot. He asked that I not come with him. So, I went incognito and followed at a distance. That’s when I saw it unfolding.

There were a group of what looked like 20-somethings following closely behind him. I saw the nudges and pointing before the comments started. I know how this goes. I’ve seen it far too many times.

There was laughing and whispering, pointing and a girl shrieking ‘stop it – you’re so mean!’

‘I want to buy the poor guy a donut’

‘Look at his head’

‘Nice shorts’

Then, ‘Fat r-word’

I waited for Ethan to walk ahead and enter the men’s room. Then it was my turn.

‘I hear you running your mouth you ignorant piece of crap! You must be some tough guy to pick on someone like him! Yeah, you – keep your head down and keep walking.’ Some more followed.

But from him and his pathetic, little group there was only more laughing and shoving of one another and looks of shock. They thought he was alone and they could carry on their recreational mocking in private. How dare I talk back, right?

Bullies count on you to be quiet. I explain it to the boys all the time. They expect you to be hurt and embarrassed. They expect complacency. They count on you to be placid. I tell them to meet those kind of people where they’re at – head up and mouth open.

On our way back from our journey, I noticed the same guy sitting with a large group of people. I expected it was his family. When Ethan was a safe distance toward our group, I approached him.

‘You know, jackass, his life is hard on a good day, on a bad day it is something that a piece of garbage like yourself wouldn’t know what to do with. People like you make my whole family’s life harder. He deals with more shit then you probably ever will and you need to know that ‘what comes around truly does go around’. I hope your family here knows what a scumbag you are.’

He said he didn’t do it. He said he didn’t say anything. He said he was ‘trying to help’. Lying sack of crap.

That’s when his dad got up and used ‘fat’ in front of the B-word. He said I was making a scene. I informed him that if his son wanted to make Ethan a spectacle, that I’d give the same back. Let’s make a scene. I may have referenced his height. I may have made my sailor-father proud with the string of swear words I put together.

And then, I walked away. Tears welled up and I started to break down. But that was ok, because by then I was back with the people who care deeply for me and Ethan and the rest of my family. I am glad they were there and that I was not alone.

I am writing about this scene, because it is rattling around in my head. It brings up my worse fears and greatest disappointments. I become sickly aware that someday Ethan will be a grown up and I will not always be there to defend him. Then I remember, that he has three brothers, being raised by me.

I am still debriefing this situation. I play out alternative endings and rehash my tirade. I am thinking about how I want these things to play out in the future.

I wondered ‘what would Jesus do?’

Jesus did some yelling and table-flipping.

I am not Jesus.

Theresa Giudice did some yelling and table flipping.

Oh well. I am glad I got this off my chest. Thanks for listening.

sunset

This is the sunset the boys and I pulled over to enjoy after we left the beach. Terrible picture, fabulous moments.

20 Years

“Twenty years now
Where’d they go?
Twenty years
I don’t know
I Sit and I wonder sometimes
Where they’ve gone

And sometimes late at night
When I’m bathed in the firelight
The moon comes callin’ a ghostly white
And I recall”

Thank you Bob Seger.
It is Ethan’s birthday. For me, this day marks 20 years of parenting with 100 more to go.
Many years before there were 4 boys comprising this crazy and chaotic clan – there was just three of us. Dennis. Me. Ethan. 5 1/2 years. Just us.
His Story is something I remember with emotions that can bubble to the surface even as I read it today. Living with Ethan is incredibly intense – that’s the truth. He is intensely complicated, intensely persistent, intensely funny
…and intensely loved.
Happy Birthday, Ethan!

Sunday Scenes – The Very Bad Mother Edition

I woke up VERY early for a Sunday. 5:48 to be exact. It worked out nicely, as I was watching my neighbors kids bright and early. It was nice to have breakfast guests.

DSC06584 (1)Although I no longer attend church and don’t see that changing at any point in the near future, there are some things I still find very meditative and comforting.

DSC06587I do not like contemporary christian music, but I do like old, very traditional hymns. It’s is ok with me if they are performed by contemporary christian artists but I still prefer Alison Kraus, Johnny Cash, and Dolly Parton.

DSC06588Then, this happened and I cannot stand it. Just can’t. Can you?

DSC06595Also, I allowed Ethan to leave the house wearing this. Do I think that it’s ok? I don’t. I was late for playoff hockey and fighting with him can take a VERY long time as Ethan can hold out on issues for hours at a time.

Speaking of being late for playoff hockey and fighting with Ethan…here is where ‘the very bad mothering’ happened. When I arrived at the hockey game, other moms greeted me with ‘Hi! Where is Sean?’

Well, he must be here somewhere, he came with Dennis. But no one reported having seen him. After a cursory search and confirmation that Dennis did not, in fact, bring him, I panicked. It took me about 10 full seconds to realize that he had been playing on the swing set in the yard across the street – WHEN I LEFT!! Yep. I finally really forgot a kid. The littlest one to boot.

I mean, sure it was cleared up in one quick phone call and he had all the time been the care of a responsible adult (not me), but it was terribly disconcerting. I am sure the ‘Mother of the Year’ is still taking nominations. Check on that for me, will you?

So hockey season has come to an end. As glad as I am to have it be over…

DSC06611 (1) DSC06607I love to see them like this!

Later, Chef Cutie and I baked some cookies. We used the wrong recipe – but baked none-the-less.

The evening ended on the best note – literally – the Star Wars Film Score. There are so few times that Ethan is happy, truly, really, happy. Content. With the music blaring, he worked on diligently on his light saber skills. Meditative, light-sabering – I think it could catch on.

DSC06634 DSC06635The force is strong with this one.

Don’t Try This At Home

Do not, under any circumstances, mix homeschooling some of your children and sending some of your children to educational institutions.

You will not be able to avail yourself of the somewhat lovely and bohemian lifestyle allowed by homeschooling – like not having to get up at a truly undesirable hour of the day. Rise, prepare breakfasts, pack lunches, and oversee the washing the dressing of two of your charges. Make sure they possess the litany of items needed for a day away from home and the masses of papers that are shuttled back and forth. Books, tissues…did we pack lunches?

You’ll need to assure that one kid get on the bus on time and that you transport one kid yourself…to the school….on time. Oh yeah, that reminds me. Do not pick the same schools for the two children attending school. I mean, that would just be easy and boring. It is even less boring for you if one attends a private school with a certain culture, rules and ways of doing things and the other a public school that does things totally differently. Then, keep them straight from one another.

Now, for the two children who are benefiting from home education – do not have them close in age. Make sure they are years apart so that you cannot arrange for any activities for them that overlap. Do not have them share learning styles. Again – booooorrrrring. You don’t want boring – you want challenging 🙂

This will also allow for some other situations that will really keep you bringing your “A Game”. When you have your ‘homeschooling’ clan out and about, make sure you can be home in time for school pick up and the bus drop off. Also, be sure that after a nice long day of homeschooling, you are able to help the child, whose school does not have the ‘no homework’ policy that the other kid’s school has, with homework.

This all works best when you have four boys, who share no virtually no interests, have radically different needs, and all have ‘things’ that make each of them incredibly challenging in their own right, but a force to be reckoned with as a pack.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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The bookends

 

So, So Sick

Ethan is sick. Poor guy. It sounds so simple, but it’s not. The final diagnosis is pneumonia – just like Gavin and I.

IMG_0481

We have a pull out couch in our kitchen – thank goodness. It has served us well during the last few weeks.

We’ve come to call Ethan ‘the ox’, because he misses so many illnesses that come through our house. It is really shocking given the circumstances that we faced the first seven years of his life.

As an infant and young child, Ethan was often critically ill with breathing troubles brought on by both reflux and a cruddy immune system. Sure, he had the ‘normal’ kid stuff – but he got things twice as bad, they lasted twice as long and he got them five times more often than other kids. He had scarlet fever – several times. I cannot count the amount of times he had Coxsackie, Fifth’s Disease, Roseola or Rotovirus.

Oh God. Rotovirus. May you NEVER.

It is hard to remember. It is hard to go back. They were very lonely days for sure. I marvel that Dennis and I so quickly developed a skill set that allowed us to do it on a near-constant basis. We planned our first ever family vacation when he was almost 7. In NJ. We lasted 4 days…before he got sick.

His current illness reminds me of that time. It also reminds me of how blessed we are that him being this sick has been few and far between in recent years. We are so fortunate that he got stronger and healthier. We know kids who did not.

He has come so far it’s remarkable.

I never forget that Ethan is loud, demanding, funny, obsessive, opinionated, silly, and requires ‘line-of-sight’ supervision.

I do often forget that he is really remarkable. Truly.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
— Albert Einstein

Be A Ghost

When Ethan is in a particular mood, on most afternoons after school, he perseverates on a certain topic.

‘You die mom?’

‘Mom, your dead. Be a ghost.’

‘Mom? Gonna die, mom?’

‘Mom? Mom. I love grandma. I love dad. I love Gabby-boy. Not you – I ‘X’ you.’

Then he makes the sound you would hear if you gave an incorrect answer on a game show.

Peals of laughter commence – only from Ethan, of course.

He goes on and on about me becoming a ghost and haunting our present house. He maintains that it will then become a ‘Spooky House’. He tells me that I am ‘old’ and ‘yucky’. He rarely expresses this about Dennis – and he is old and yucky too!

Sometimes I ignore him – to the extent that it is possible to ignore Ethan. If he chooses, he can keep this up for hours. Sometimes I respond.

‘Yes, E, we are all going to die.’

‘Yes, E, if given the opportunity I will definitely haunt you.’

‘Ethan, if I die, who is going to make the food and do the laundry?’

He says he’s going to take over. Maybe he could start that now?

He has expressed these sentiments from the time he was very young. We can come up with no good reason for this particular behavior – or so many like it. It is inexplicable – like so much about him.

It is a hobby, a habit, a compulsion. My mom is often concerned that it upsets me. It does not. I recently had a compassionate friend concerned that it is hurtful. I am not sure why it does not bother me. I don’t believe that he secretly hates me and also, a lot of what Ethan does is confounding. It is far from the most difficult facet of his quirky self.

It’s fine. I love Ethan enough for the both of us. And if it turns out that it is, in fact, possible to haunt him or become a ghost when I die – I’m in.

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“It’s how you ride the trail that counts.”

~ Dale Evans (Rogers)

Did you know that Roy Rogers and Dale Evans had a baby girl with Down Syndrome? This book is a little beauty.