Long time, no post. It’s been chaos at home. September marked the start of another school year not only for me (as a teacher), but for Quinn as well for the first time. Big brother Q made the transition from do-whatever-you-want-all-day to Kindergarten student seamlessly. Decked out in Spider-Man gear from head to toe, he apparently loves school.
This, as we know, is not always the case. School really can be such a crapshoot each year; think about all that goes into determining whether or not a child comes home each day gushing about their day rather than sitting sullenly at the dinner table when talk turns to what they did in the classroom – the teacher, the school, the classroom setup, the classmates, just to name a few of the big factors.
(I was going to write about the teacher side of the education experience, but I’ve deleted all of it. I think I’m a little too close to it to write objectively and there are certain things I probably shouldn’t say as a member of the profession.)
Quinn is a very charismatic kid, even if he’s a little cold (maybe shy?) towards new people. He’s good-looking, he talks like he’s ten, and he’s unintentionally hilarious. This might mean he’s going to be a bit of a handful in class, but in the schoolyard, he must be fun. And yet, on Day 2, he comes home saying some kid in his class doesn’t want to be his friend. Look, I’m not delusional – I’m sure the story isn’t quite so simple and even if it is, he’s going to have to learn how to navigate the schoolyard. He should be thankful we don’t live in Scarborough in the 1980s is what I’m thinking, but not saying (GET OFF MY LAWN, YOU DAMN KIDS!).
But given what he has and is, Quinn will hopefully not have too difficult a time making friends. Yeah, it can still happen, but at the very least he’s starting on an even playing field. Hell, he’s probably starting on top given his super cool father who will want to play board games with him for the rest of his life. I can dream, can’t I?
We got some good news over the past few weeks. Marshall has had a boatload of appointments at the Hospital for Sick Children. We’re being seen by so many teams, I can never keep them straight. Sometimes I arrive for an appointment, guided only by the directions in the calendar app that Bridget and I share, only to be surprised that it’s ophthalmology today rather than neurology, or audiology instead of the sleep clinic. Anyway, he had to be sedated for an MRI (poor little guy) but came through like a champ. Apparently, his brain development looks normal (boy, have I come to hate that word) and things look great. His ophthalmology appointment worried me, but again, apparently, he’s right where he should be for his age. Being out of the hospital for the last 3 months has really given him a chance to grow and learn. How good would my vision be if all I looked at was a hospital ceiling while I had tubes put into me constantly to keep me going? Last of all, we got him to fall asleep twice at the hospital for two separate audiology tests, months after the first failed attempt. This one was the most stressful for Bridget and me, especially since we had been cautioned that his hearing might have issues. We spent the last few months looking for signs that he might hear. I’ll come around the corner and call his name to see if he responds.
Through it all, Marshy had one true, true believer – Bridget’s stepmom Julie. She has been so strong over the past seven months, especially when she knew we were falling apart. The day Marshy was born, she came to the hospital to see us and held me while I cried uncontrollably, not knowing what was going on, whether he would live or not. She held me and told me, without tears, that he would be fine and that she would love him no matter what. And you know what? When she holds him, I swear he can feel the love from her touch. He is definitely happiest with her, and she is happiest with him. For months, Julie has been adamant that Marshall responds to all sounds.
Well, she was right. The audiology tests showed that his hearing is good. His cochleae are working just fine.
Back to school, for a minute. Marshall’s three years away from going to school, and in that time, I have the chance to instill in him confidence and strength, and to believe in himself and to stand up for himself and, most importantly, to love who he is. I can do that. Once he goes to school, though, will it all go out the window?
I hope his teachers don’t judge him based on his differences, but instead give him the same chances the other students have. I hope his classmates play with him the same way they play with the other kids. I hope the other parents don’t pity him and force their kids to play with him, and don’t fear him because he’s different and have their kids avoid him.
One day, Marshall is going to notice the stares, or ask questions about why he’s different. I still don’t know how I’m going to answer that. He’s just different. I’ve started to have times when I forget that, and yes, there are still times when I’m hyper-aware of it. I notice it most when we see photos of Quinn as a baby, or when friends post photos of their babies. It’s the fingers. The sight of baby fingers – separated baby fingers – is like jumping into a cold bath.
A few weeks ago, I had a really rough night. I tossed and turned, cried a lot, couldn’t fall asleep – probably a combination of school anxiety and home anxiety. I finally got out of bed and went into Marshall’s room. I listened to him breath noisily, and watched his chubby sides rise and fall with each inhalation. After a few minutes, I went to Quinn’s room and climbed into bed with him. We don’t let him sleep in our bed, and we make it a point not to sleep with him, but on this night, I made an exception. I crawled under the covers and cuddled with him, and he was none the wiser. Sometimes, when everything seems too much to bear, it’s good to remind myself of just how lucky I am to have those two muffins.