A moment of joy when he was born, I cradled him in my arms and if I close my eyes now, I can revert back to that moment. I can mentally time travel to the instance when I felt a connection between his heart and mine, pumping furiously after a long, labor. I involuntarily catch my breath whenever I do this, and realize nine years have slipped by, nine beautiful, rewarding, challenging years. I imagine all the moments like granules of sand, fluidly pouring from between my fingers as I make a desperate attempt to hold on to each one of them. That is how I view parenting now as I have become older, and I am fighting to catch every grain.
Instantly there was a deeper than normal bond between us. Shortly, there was a stronger than normal fussiness about him. He was incessant by nature. Pure power wrapped up into a tight, swaddled, red- faced bundle. If I brought my face really close to his, until my eyelashes fluttered upon his cheeks, he would slowly, quiet down. I would change my tone of voice, dim the lights, find the softest blanket and just whisper “It’s your mom and she loves you”, and he would soothe down and become manageable.
I still use this technique to this day to deescalate situations that are very, quickly spiraling out of control.
ADD/ADHD. That was my answer for over 6 years. It seemed logical. High strung, lots of energy, “like a motor”, lack of focus, squirming, fidgeting, that boy cant sit still Mrs. A. Well, I thought, ok, lets get evaluated. Must be ADHD. Although my instinct is gnawing inside of me. My eyes drift to a neat, aligned, row of shiny Duracell batteries, arranged by size, with corresponding gadgets they fit. I scoop my baby up and hold on tight, taking in his sweet smell, deep within the crevices of his neck. He reciprocates my gesture, breathing deeply. We both come up for air giggling.
As a parent, I have moments of panic, sorrow, fear, in its purest, carnal form. A mother’s fear is raw, its palpable, and I had it. I poured over research studies of children with ADHD. They sounded like my son, but…not quite. The day the physician handed me the prescription for a Ritalin derived medication, I went home and cried for three days. Tears fell into dishwater as I was washing dinner dishes, bath water as I was giving evening baths, amidst the evening showers that sprinkled my garden as I tried to take a gulp of fresh air. Studies had not been conducted on children under 6. My son was 4. And I was half a woman emotionally. I watched him, disappear daily into a emotionless, void being. That dazzling smile , was gone. Our funny jokes weren’t so funny anymore, there was not a tickle on earth that could make him laugh. I remember just watching him one day stare at a picture of an airplane for 3 hours while I sat in the corner, arms wrapped around myself sobbing softly to myself. We tried four medications with horrible, awful, violent side effects. What no one realized then, was we were treating but a facet of the issue. One behavior in a spectrum of behaviors my son possessed.Just the hyperactivity. Well, what about the compulsiveness? The obsessions? The fixations on one subject matter? The physical tics, the separation anxiety,the genius quality that enabled him to remember number sequences? How did it all fit in?
Autism??? Yes, Mrs. A., Autism. Well, that cant be. My son talked early, he walked at 9 months. He spoke simple sentences at 11 months, he recognized colors and flashcards at 1 year. Autism??? No, No way. Specifically Asperger’s Mrs. A., he has a type of Autism.That’s why the ADHD medications didn’t really react well with him, he needs a multi symptom approach. Different meds, different combinations, that work synergistically with each other.
I was referred to a specialist. Walked out of the office, drove home in the rain screaming. I screamed for my son who was at that moment sitting in his classroom trying to control his hand flapping and anxiously waiting for the bus to collect him so he could hurry home to me. I screamed for the times he suffered through endless prompts to take capsules that he hated and begged me not to give him. I screamed.
Yet, magically, we had the Answer.
Today, I tell Faris his hand flapping is a gift from God and he was chosen especially to have this gift, and he smiles proudly. I tell him, his feelings are real and his soul is good. I tell him he is super smart and he can do and be anything he wants in this whole, wide world. I show him pictures of others like him and their accomplishments, and how proud he makes me.
I hold him really close until my eyelashes flutter upon his cheeks, and whisper how much his mom loves him.