what i do

When my nine-year-old son Calvin’s bus arrives at the end of our driveway I sweep him off the steps, give him a kiss and set him on his feet. He usually has a smile on his face because home, it seems, is his favorite place to be, though school comes in close second. Sometimes we step inside and wash his hands then I read his daily summary sheet looking for the number and quality of any poops, searching for remarks on his balance and behavior and for what types of activities he engaged in while at school. At times, I hand him over to the nurse who sometimes fetches him from the bus herself, in which case I go back to my gardening or my writing or, on rare occasions, my cleaning.

What I don’t do, I see other parents doing with their children, and with a clenched heart I wonder if they are cognizant of how fortunate they are to be doing them. I don’t greet my son beaming with admiration at the way he describes how he made the paper mache sculpture in art. I don’t walk with him across town, kicking stones and acorns, to buy ice cream cones at the little red shack on Maine Street. I don’t send him off on his bike to the neighbor’s house to play. I don’t take him to swimming lessons where I watch intently from the side of the pool. I don’t take him to the store to pick out a new helmet or cleats or ball or bat or jersey or a spanking new pair of shoes. I don’t hear him recite his newest poem written in neat, round letters on wide-spaced ruled paper. I don’t head to the back yard to toss a ball that might just land in a mitt that devours his little arm practically up to its elbow. I don’t teach him cartwheels or somersaults or how to make a blade of grass sing between his thumbs. I don’t send him off to walk the dog or ask him to make himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or to go ask his father a question or to head upstairs to clean his room or do his homework.

What I do do, as on a day like yesterday, is to keep him out of his regrettably short day of summer school so we can drive nearly three hours to his neuro-ophthalmologist’s appointment in Boston where we sit and wait until the technician receives us then glues leads to his ears and on the back of his head as he whines and struggles to free himself from his father's restraint while he watches black and white checkerboards in various sizes dance across a screen in front of him so that the technician can record and decipher the activity of his visual cortex.

What I do do is then pace around behind him in the office for an hour waiting to get his glasses tested and his eyes dilated so that one of the Best Physicians in Boston can examine him, then I give him his lunchtime seizure medicine in a spoonful of yogurt and watch him drift off to sleep in his stroller with his eyes half open like he does when he is sick, like he does just before a seizure.

What I do do is watch him begin to jerk and twitch in that stroller and wonder if it’s a seizure and my muscles tense and I sit at the edge of my seat waiting to spring into action. But it isn’t a seizure, and some commotion wakes him up and his pupils are saucers and he stares at his snapping fingers and a soiled bib remains clipped at the back of his neck and he chews the harness we’ve strung across the stroller so that he won’t fall out and he grinds his teeth and we’re still waiting for the doctor to examine his eyes so we can get the hell out of there and drive three hours back to Maine arriving long after I’d usually be sweeping him off of the bus from school with a kiss.

photo by Michael Kolster

1 comment:

  1. There is nothing I can add here or even comment upon, and I feel like this a lot of the times I come to your blog and read of your life and of Calvin. I feel solidarity, true, but I also feel like making some sort of mark in this white box that will somehow signify that I am here, reading, listening, abiding with you.