Friday, September 9, 2016

Your 10th Birthday Eve

Dear Nathan,

Happy Birthday Eve, my first born child!!! You will be 10--TEN--tomorrow! You're going into double digits! The only other time you'll add another digit is if you make it to 100. Not a level...well...kinda I guess.....

You. I am so proud of you. You said you wanted to go to school, and you are. Your first six days of 4th grade have been pretty smooth...and full of emotion and amazement and anxiety and stress and transition...which is hard for you...and for all of us in this autism family. And let's face it, skipping a Monday is difficult on the neurotypical world too.

But you're about to be 10!!! A decade. Daddy said that the reason 10 is big is because we count in base 10. Yes, there are three bases in baseball. But I'm not talking about baseball. I'm talking about mathematics. Don't be too autistic and ADHD right now. Pay attention. We count in base 10, as opposed to base 8, or base 7. So, we count 10, 20, 30...not 8, 16, 24...and not 7, 14, 21.... Got it? Base 10. I suppose home plate is a base. But I don't really know because I'm not a baseball fan.

Thank you for contributing to the conversation, child. This is kinda new for you...especially with other the folks you didn't know on the first day of school. But you're working with them...and they're working with you...and it's been good. It's been better than good. It's been pretty fucking amazing, kiddo. I'm really proud of you for taking one day at a time.

Yeah...Mommy probably shouldn't say fuck so much. I'm trying my best to not. Yes, just like you are trying your best to not step on my foot or hit your brother or laugh hysterically. I'm sorry I get so mad at you when you laugh hysterically. I know it's your reaction to distress. I try my best to walk away from you when you do it. But sometimes I'm just done for the day, before I even get out of bed. I'm under a lot of pressure, child. "Oppressive" doesn't begin to describe it.

And I'm sorry. I'm sorry that you and your brother were almost parentless. Orphans. And, yes, Dean and Reid would be fantastic brothers to you and Isaac. But, that means you'd have no parents. That Daddy and I would be dead (God forbid). And that's just not something anyone deserves. So, let's think positive and continue moving forward. Because that's the best we can do. And, we certainly didn't intend to each get our own cancer. It's just the cards we were dealt. Yup. It's kinda like Go Fish. I love you and the connections that are happening in your brain.

Let's love each other. And ourselves. Let's be kind. And honest. And listen to our bodies when we're hungry or tired or cranky. Yup. Hungry, tired, and cranky are three strikes. And then you're out and in meltdown mode. And that sucks. So, let's prevent the meltdown. Eat strong foods, get plenty of rest, and try your best.

Instead of saying sorry after you hit Isaac or you use mean words, you need to follow the Cougar Code. Yup. The one at school. Do you remember what the Cougar Code is? Be respectful; be responsible; be a learner; and be safe. RIGHT! You got it! So, be respectful, keep your hands and feet to yourself. Be responsible, give yourself your medications when you're supposed to. Yes, I'll mix everything up for you. But YOU need to eat that ice cream mixed with medicine. I know it sucks. I know it's not fair. I know the ethosuxamide tastes awful. I am sorry we cannot mix it in the ice cream. Well, because it's more like cough syrup. You just gotta drink it down. Yes, you can have a Starburst afterwards. But if you choose to not take your meds, what will happen? Yes. You'll seize. And your brain will hurt. We don't want that. What do you want? Ye!. I think you will be great at pushing carts for folks at Costco. Maybe, if you don't seize, you can learn to drive a forklift! Wouldn't that be fun?! Moving pallets! Yes! You would be great at that! You'd get to help so many people! So, take your meds! The taste is temporary. It's a small problem. Yes, epilepsy and cancer are huge problems! You are becoming quite a learner! Yes, just like the Cougar Code says! Exactly, Nathan! You're getting it! And how can you be safe? Yes, taking your meds...not fighting with Isaac, especially when Mommy's driving! What else? How else can you be safe? Going outside when the fire alarm sounds is a great way to stay safe. I know it was scary and it hurt your ears. And I'm sure that all the kids at school were nervous and scared during the fire drill yesterday, too. But it's over, right? And now you know what to do just in case there's a fire. Right?

So, tomorrow...the day you were's supposed to be sunny and beautiful and warm. Every year on your birthday, it's never rained. It's always been a beautiful day. So, let's have a beautiful year. Be brave! Have fun! Show your courage! And remember it's ok to cry. It's ok to give hugs and get hugs and kisses from me and Daddy. And Isaac if he says ok. I know you think it's fun to squeeze him, but you don't need to make him's not cool. But what is cool is seeing you grow and change...especially the maturity you've had since February 2015, when we pulled you to homeschool you and then I found the lump in my breast. You amaze me.

But, really, your birthday is about me. Because I'm the one that amazes myself. I gave birth to you 10 years ago. I listened to my body and pushed you out and my entire body tingled like nothing I'd ever experienced. It was amazing. It was a Sunday; and Daddy put the Cowboys game on. And, no, we don't watch football anymore...because it's just not what our family does...yup...we got a lot of life happening. Baseball? You want to play again next summer with Special Olympics? You bet. And soccer? Sure!

I love you Nathan Zachary. My hope for you this next year is that you have fewer seizures, that you learn and grow and thrive in ways that I cannot even begin to imagine.

All my love always,

PS...don't forget that I'm a badass.

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