Monday, October 8, 2007

Trying to Recapture the Past

Dsds14 often wakes up with an idea that he can’t shake until he acts on it. When he came downstairs this morning and marched directly into the garage, I could see he was on yet another mission. Turns out he was looking for our folding table. He insisted he needed it.

My husband humored him and gave him the table, which ds set up in the middle of the living room, right in everyone’s way. Of course, since we have too much furniture from our old house crowded into our (smaller) rental house, this couldn’t be helped.

Anyway, I knew when I told ds that it was time to do school that he would have some excuse related to the table. That’s how his mind operates. Our usual procedure on the days when he wakes up with a plan is:

He tells me he can’t do school because of it,
I shoot down his objection,
and we get to work.

His missions usually involve him being Spider-Man and needing to rescue Mary Jane, him being Santa Claus and wanting to check on the elves, him being Batman and looking for Robin……this kid has a very vivid imagination (and watches a lot of movies). Still, I’m pretty good at side-stepping his plans and steering him towards our schoolwork.

But today he informed me that he couldn’t do school because he had to set the table since everyone is coming to lunch: his sister, his brother and his new sister-in-law.

Ouch. I dread the days when his plan involves the big kids, and I can’t just shoot this plan down as I usually do. Wanting his siblings back is a sore spot, and one I feel guilty about. It’s been four years since his sister moved to her own place and his brother left for college, and he still hasn’t gotten over it. Every time they come home for a visit, he’s overjoyed. And every time they leave, he asks “Why?” for weeks afterwards. All he wants is to have everyone back home together again…for good.

I feel guilty because A) I’m the one who homeschooled everyone, and B) I’m a mom, so guilt is a regular part of my thought processes when it comes to my kids. After all, if I hadn’t homeschooled them, dsds14 wouldn’t have had so much time with his siblings and probably wouldn’t miss them so much. After all, they’re 8-10 years old than him. Their lives in school would have been their priority. They would have been gone all the time. He wouldn’t have gotten used to having them at home.

Please don't misunderstand. I’m glad I homeschooled them, and I think the closeness that can develop between homeschooled siblings who were together all their lives is a good thing. But it can be so painful for the youngest one to watch everyone else leave. And when the youngest has developmental disabilities, he doesn’t understand why everybody keeps leaving him. His plaintive questions make it painful for those of us at home with him as well.

Fortunately, we still have dd16 here. She’s also had a hard time letting go of the older kids, but she can understand why they’re gone and where they are, and that makes a big difference. Her presence does ease dsds14’s pain. But he still regularly asks for the older kids; on days like today, he decides to take matters into his own hands and set the table, figuring that effort might make them appear for lunch.

That’s not going to happen. Dd24 lives less than an hour away (she was just here yesterday) but she’s at work today. And ds22 and his bride are also both at work today…ten hours from here. Understanding distance, however, is not one of dsds14’s strong suits.

So I calmly explained to him, yet another time, that the kids can’t come home for lunch today, that they live far away in their new houses because they’re big now. I reminded him that he just saw his big sister yesterday (he even made a chocolate cake for the occasion), and that he’ll be seeing ds22 and his wife when they come up for Christmas.

He seemed to accept that, and we got going on school. He worked hard all morning, and we finished up just in time for lunch. But then he ran upstairs, and when I called him back to set the table, he didn’t answer. So I went up to his room, where I found him wrapping household items (including the ceiling fan remote, an empty video case, a cd, and his toy ball) in birthday paper (the Christmas paper is packed away).

“Look, Mom! Christmas presents!”

I guess he figures if he declares it’s Christmas, maybe the kids will come home today after all.


Susan said...

>>feel guilty because A) I’m the one who homeschooled everyone,<<

I know exactly what you mean! It's good to have them love each other! It's good to have the time together! It's good to know your children so well! And yet, sometimes the depth of love that grew in that rich environment.... sometimes the loss of that togetherness just hurts all the more for the depth of love that is there.

When a very dear friend died (who also happened to be my pastor's pastor), my pastor would comment that the pain wouldn't have been so great if the love had not been so great. "And you wouldn't want to have foregone the love, would you?" Well, actually sometimes I almost thought "YES: anything to not feel this pain!" And yet, your son knows that the unity and the closeness and the chances to be together again -- he knows those are treasures to embrace. Even though it rips our guts out sometimes.

I guess it gives us the smallest inkling of how God yearns for us and how much He longs to have us home.

>>I found him wrapping household items<<

My youngest has a thing for wrapping household items too! She loves to wrap presents for people, no matter what the "present" might be. Interesting that your son does the same thing.

My blessings times five said...

As a mother of a child with ds, who also happens to be our youngest, (at this point anyhow. LOL) and a home schooling mom, I read this post with so much curiousity. Wondering how it was going to end....What a beautiful, wonderful, reality of home schooling. I am the youngest of 9, and I had this same exact issue, I had so much trouble with this. Sometimes I think I still do. LOL. So on so many levels, this hit home to me. Your son sounds absolutely beautiful!! Please send him my warmest Christmas wishes. Hey, I just have to join him! :)

Barbara Frank said...

Susan, you may have lived this new reality before I did (my eldest is about to turn 24). I agree; sometimes the pain is too much, and it's intensified by seeing my youngest suffer. But we sure did make a lot of good memories.

As for the presents, maybe it's a youngest kid thing? I always say dsds14 has Youngest Child syndrome in addition to Ds: he's very outgoing and he loves to be the center of attention. My youngest sister was the same way, and she ended up in the entertainment industry.

MBT5, thanks for stopping by! How interesting that you 've experienced this yourself and anticipate it someday because of your child with Ds. As for the presents, I think we're on to something's Youngest Child syndrome! :)

Lostcheerio said...

That's so sweet that he has such warm, loving feelings toward them, and such great memories. It's hard, but better than the alternative. You're doing a great job. I was an only child -- this kind of post makes me wish I'd had brothers and sisters. :)