at the end of my leash

If this kid isn’t on the verge of a seizure then I don’t know what the hell is wrong (though truly my hunch is it's still probably the damn anticonvulsant drug side effects.) After two relatively good days, Calvin ended the afternoon in hysterics leaving me as a seething ball of nerves. While in the stroller he coughed so hard and long I thought he was going to puke. I wanted to run and hide, punch a tree, rip my hair out, scream at the world. Completely irked, I tied Rudy’s leash to the stroller, impatiently scooped Calvin out, stood him up on his own two feet and held his hands on the handlebar to push it. I was hoping he’d release whatever it was that was causing him distress. Thankfully, the coughing stopped as he slapped flat-footed and pigeon-toed down the paved lane through the pines.

We got about half a block then began crossing the street, Calvin swerving and swaying in my tight one-handed grasp, my other hand guiding the stroller. I heard a few people approaching the intersection from the other side of the street—by the sounds of it, a mother and her small children. One child was squealing, but in my anger, frustration and embarrassment I couldn’t bare to meet their gaze, just kept my head down watching Calvin in case he tripped. Then, from behind, I heard one child say something that I couldn’t quite make out. She repeated it, this time louder, “He’s on a leash!” I looked down at Rudy just to make sure he was still at my side as we slowly made our way. He was right there, still tethered, though lagging slightly behind as old dogs do. Just as I took my eyes off of Calvin he dropped to the ground like a stone—and though able—refused to walk any further. I was so angry—having to deal with this stubborn kid for what has sometimes felt like an eternity—I could’ve spit. There, in the middle of the sidewalk standing above Calvin I muttered F-bomb after F-bomb in as many ways as I could think to use the curse (which is a lot.) I hoped no one was watching—listening—as I grabbed Calvin and tossed him back into the stroller. All the while I tried to tell myself, He can’t help it, he can’t help it, but my anger did not subside. He started coughing and writhing like a lunatic as soon as I buckled him in, his loathsome racket bouncing around in my skull like a fly in a jar.

As we approached our drive it occurred to me that the child who had shouted, “He’s on a leash!” was referring to my eight-year-old son, not to Rudy the dog. My heart sunk into my stomach, my head into my shoulders, and a wave of pity and shame washed over me. And as I gently helped Calvin out of the stroller I wondered if he’d ever have the luxury of living his life drug free—seizure free—feeling good and walking independently instead of like some rabid dog at the end of my very short leash.

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photo by Michael Kolster


  1. I'm sorry. For what it's worth, I've felt exactly the same way more times than I can count. It will pass. And yes, I believe your son will be able to walk freely, perhaps not seizure freely -- but you will find a way for him to do so. I don't think you can make any absolute predictions when you're in the space that you're in -- and your cursing is probably the BEST way to handle the whole f'd up situation (pronounced sit-u-AH-si-un in a French accent, brutally).

    Hugs to you.

  2. thank you elizabeth. you're the best. xo

  3. You are both the best- my sweet Southern mom would die if she heard the expletives that roll from my tounge during a good struggle. I too, am a F-bomb fan. Talk about adding insult to injury, I wish you hadn't heard that comment. . . tho I wish none of us had it to deal with in the first place. I have to stop commenting, but reading your posts, I see myself in so many of them.