I’ve been posting less and less. In many ways, this is a good thing, because my posts have generally been triggered by some real-world occurrence involving Marshall’s health or well-being. In this case, no news is good news.
Marshall has settled into his daily routine at pre-school. Because of our work schedules, Bridget drops him off each day and I hear stories about how much fun it is to take him to school. And so, one day a few weeks ago when I was not at work, I took Marshall to school. The moment we walked in, you’d think Freddie Mercury and Elvis Presley had come back from the dead to record a new version of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”. Volunteers and staff at the school burst into a cheer, and Marshall proceeded to do a circuit of the room, high-fiving anyone interested. My cold, cynical heart just about sputtered to life. Upstairs, he hung his things up, changed his shoes with my help, handed his teacher his communication book, and then said hi to his friends. I don’t know how Bridget drops him off without crying every day.
It felt very comforting being at the pre-school. Maybe it’s because I know that of all places – even more so than the hospital – there is no judgment in that building. No staring. No wondering. Nearly all of the children attending the program are growing up with some kind of challenge. I still look down when I walk into the building, but at least there’s no tightness in my chest.
Marshall has made it to the end of 2017 healthier than he was when we rang in the new year. He’s growing, he’s thriving – all good things. I’ve spent the last 2.5+ years worrying and worrying about what has happened and what hasn’t happened yet and what may or may not happen. The stories my brain creates in an instant could pack movie theatres for years (starring Ryan Gosling as me, naturally). Perhaps it’s time in 2018 to let go of some of that anxiety that has become an unfortunately all-too-comfortable companion. I can’t spend the rest of his childhood with my guard up anytime another child comes within two hundred metres of us (I can probably get that down to a 50 metre radius). I have to stop making comparisons when we are in the company of other families, wondering what other parents are thinking or if they are comparing or what if this or that or this. And I have to stop gritting my teeth when I hear another parent talk about how hard a night they had with their newborn because of course they have a right to complain. Being Marshall’s dad doesn’t mean that knowing parenting hardship belongs solely to me.
As I’m typing this sentence, I can hear Marshall upstairs with his mother, learning how to access Netflix through the Playstation 4. “SOMETHING’S WRONG WITH THE PS!” Bridget calls down to me (I can’t believe she calls it “the PS”). I can hear Marshall tugging at her sleeve and trying to get her to pass him the controller while I call out instructions to get her where she wants to go in the menu. He’s probably wondering why she doesn’t just pass him the controller and get out of the way.
Just pass him the controller and get out of the way.