eye on the ball

If you’ve ever tried running a three-legged race you might have a bit of insight into what it’s like going about my day with Calvin. He and I are like a conjoined twins. Although we are not joined at the hip, we might as well be, tethered to each other the way we are all throughout the day.

Calvin, who is nine, cannot walk by himself without the risk of tripping and knocking his teeth out, running into corners and walls with his head or falling down stairs, likely due to the antiepileptic drugs he has to take that make him dizzy. So, I’ve got to keep my hands on him, or his harness reins, at all times. If I try to do two things at once, like pour myself a glass of water or hang up my coat, I risk dropping him if he tips off balance when I'm not ready. I’ve got to keep my eye on the ball, so to speak, like my dad used to tell me when teaching me how to catch a ball or how to swing a racket or bat.

I remember when a close friend came to our home for a visit. He arrived out of sorts. He went on to explain that the neighbor’s child, while holding his infant son in her arms, had accidentally dropped him onto the paved driveway. The baby had been squirming and simply got away. At the time, even though I could see his grave concern over the incident—his sickly expression at recounting the event—I couldn’t quite imagine what was so upsetting, because I had no children of my own. The fall was only a couple feet, after all.

Now, I know all too well what a tumble like that can mean, especially for Calvin since he's getting bigger. Taking my eyes off of him for one second can result in a bad fall. Years ago, when he was much smaller, while two of his nurses were chatting together, Calvin between them just at their feet trying to stand up, he suffered a bloody, swollen nose when he unexpectedly pitched forward, neither of them holding him as they were locked in conversation, and he slammed his face into the floor.

Luckily, Calvin’s bad falls are few and far between and it is because we—Michael, the nurses and I and his one-on-one at school—are on constant alert, our focus being on Calvin's safety, and little to nothing else, as he motors around the house like a little drunken sailor sporting a bobblehead. And all the while my dad's voice is ringing through my brain, "keep your eye on the ball."

Version originally published 09.08.11


  1. I can imagine how exhausting this is. I wish there were some way you could pad up your house and just let him go.

  2. People just don't get how labor and concentration intensive our kids are. We literally cannot take our eyes off them. We have to have a plan just to go pee or go out on the deck for 5 minutes of fresh air! It's constant, physically and emotionally exhausting and never ending. I'm sure you know what I mean!