One of the things that prompted me to finally start writing (after years and years of Martha and I saying that we needed to write a book) was finding some pages of a journal I kept the summer before my son was entering first grade. That was 15 years ago … July 1998. My two sons (“Jimmy”, age 6, and “Joey”, age 4) were taking swimming lessons, and I started using that small patch of time to record some of what I was going through.
It’s a surreal and painful experience to see the “me” of 15 years ago. Here’s a sample, which I wrote while sitting within hearing distance (but not viewing distance) of my son’s swimming lesson. The previous day’s lesson had been a disaster for “Jimmy,” whose sensory issues made putting his head in the water (and getting his body to move correctly) a complete nightmare.
I’m sitting here outside the swimming lesson … against my better judgment, I agreed to hang around during the lesson today. He seems to have pulled himself together somewhat, but he still doesn’t want to go underwater again. That’s the real issue.
I know that “Jimmy’s” particular needs are a big part of the reason I’ve felt so trapped recently. I try not to let them run my life, but inevitably, they affect everything I do, everything we do as a family, the way I treat the other kids, etc. … I’m continually tensed waiting for the next shriek … Even here, sitting in front of the house where the pool lesson is, I’m writing this, but I’ve got one ear trained on the pool, listening for the instructor and seeing if her tone of voice indicates any problem with “Jimmy,” and listening for the cry from him that I am almost constantly tensed to hear.
The anxiety practically jumps off the pages of my journal … and the constant questioning: Am I doing the right thing? Why isn’t anything working? What else – and who else (I have two other kids…) – am I screwing up now?
Martha and I have written about how our kids’ “issues” have affected people around them, and in particular, their siblings.
But what about how having “neurotpyical” siblings (or whatever the politically correct phrase is) affects kids with issues? …continue reading