Monday, August 27, 2012

Being 10

Nate turned 10 in July. July 7th, 2012 at 6:25PM exactly My son is now 5 feet 1/2 inches tall, weighs 104 lbs and has a size 9 adult mens shoe. I recall turning 10 and it was really a big turn in my life. Nate is going through similar growing pains. 

Last week, we met with his therapist and his psychiatric nurse to go over his summer progress and to take a look at how his meds are working for him. Talk therapy is hit or miss with Nate. We've had to schedule super early morning appointments to make sure that he's up, focused and ready to chat. That means 8:30, which means we have to leave at 7:30, as it takes an about an hour to get there. 

This week it was a miss, he wasn't too interested in talking, but when we get to the play part, he's very animated and is able to share somethings. For the most part he's too distracted to stay on one topic; or if we do get him to spill a bit about his life, he does his best not to talk about himself. 

We had an hour to kill between appointments, so back to the waiting room we went.  There was a big TV in there, so that kept Mr. Sheridan occupied. The psychiatric nurse saw us close to our meeting time and we went right in.

She sat us down and started asking Nate some questions, which he likes to answer with short one word responses. There was a topic that she hit on which made him start to talk to her. Nathan doesn't like when I get involved in the conversation, so I stayed out, which is hard for me. 

She asked him about camp, and did he make any friends. He sighed a little bit, and said, "Not really."

She inquired further and he said, "Well, I'm trying, but people call me annoying...and well...that makes me sad...sorta.."
She smiled at him and she asked, "Do you talk alot?"
He sheepishly grinned, "Yeah, I do."
"Well, maybe if you cut your talking down a bit, that might help," she offered. 
"Yeah, I think that might work, " he replied.
"Do you get into people's personal space?" she asked.
"I have problems with that, " he confessed, "It's hard."
"Don't worry, adults have that problem, too. You can absolutely work at it." she confided.

Meanwhile, as this conversation is going on, I'm welling up with incredibly big tears, trying to hold it all in. I reach for the tissues that are conveniently next to my right hand and I snatch them like a pair of sale designer jeans and quickly pull a wad of tissues to press under my eyes, to keep the deluge of mascara erasing drops at bay.  

As a mother, I know I cannot possibly know everything at every moment about my kid. I'm pretty on top of things, as that is part of the territory. I pride myself in having things under control. At that second, I didn't know how much he had been really struggling. And it stung.

I hurt for him. And for me. There was so much guilt, big heaping waves of it. Guilt for not knowing he was struggling, guilt for not doing that mysterious thing which would have prevented this moment. Guilt for possibly passing along that awkward socio-emotional gene that I had at exactly his age where kids DID NOT GET ME, and I paid for it. Dearly and painfully. I so wanted him not to feel ANY of this, and he was. 

And yet, here he was, on the floor of the nurse's office, calmly and articulately describing his feelings and his struggles. He felt safe enough to express his emotions and to rationally discover solutions. He took advice and didn't shove it back in her face or call her names. There was another wave that splashed over me, that of pride and big overwhelming maternal love.  I reveled in how truly far he had come. 

He turned around at the sound of my snuffling into my tissues. I'm a sniffling mess when I cry. He looked at me and said, "Mom, are you crying?" I nodded, trying to smile behind my tear stained smirky grin. 
He came over to hug me. His nurse assured him, "They are happy tears."

And they most assuredly were. 


  1. That was a touching story, however, given that your child is 10 and struggling with fitting in don't you have any concerns that writing such a blog with his pictures and full name might embarrass him and make him feel further alienated? Children are cruel. Not only that but you're also leaving a trail of history that may follow him throughout his future.

    My son is the same age and has similar struggles, but I can't imagine "outing" him since it's his choice to share his disability - especially as he grows older.

    I applaud your passion and advocacy but why don't you keep it about yourself and focused on your expertise?

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    It has taken me a couple of days to ponder your comment. I wanted to make sure I was coming from a place of calmness after some reflection.

    I am going to blog about it. I think its that important to address it in this way. I hope you will indulge me a few more days before I respond.

  3. OMG I remember this day. Wasn't I feeling bad about having an argument with Darin and hanging at the shoe store? Ugh. I tear up about all this, too. Love you!