fragile.

Fear is characterized as an emotional response to a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger.

It seems basic enough. But what happens when you have a child who is in constant fear? A child who is afraid of words, afraid of sounds, afraid of vibrations, afraid of lights, afraid of failure and afraid of success. All of these fears perceived to be real, concrete, and surely dangerous.

This is my child.

She said her first word at six months, and took her first steps at eight months. She was this curious little bald baby, walking long before others her age, and people would marvel at her. She was so bright, so curious, so happy and so calm. So fearless.

Diagnosed as gifted at the age of 4, we were ecstatic. How lucky! A smart kid! It doesn’t get better than this. I remember waving her test results in front of a coworker. This coworker, who has a gifted child (now adult) said, simply, ‘I wouldn’t wish a gifted child on anyone.’ I couldn’t believe that. I could not believe those words came out of her mouth, and I perceived them, at the time, to be brought on by jealousy. Maybe she was mad, because now someone else had joined the elite club of being the parent of a gifted child. The story wasn’t hers anymore.

Now I know. I think I understand.

My child is gifted. She can read at a university level, and my child is six. She loves math. Her math skills are superior to mine. Intellectually, my child is ready to take on the world.

My child is gifted. At the age of three, she would lay awake at night, crying inconsolably, because what would happen to her if she grew up, and couldn’t find a job, and would end up living on the streets? My child, at four, was so angry with her friend one day. ‘Mama! She wants to play princess, and I am so tired of playing princess. I want to play homeless!’ We would go to the mall, and instead of heading to the toy store, my child would sit on a bench, and ask me to pretend to offer her shelter and food because she had nowhere to live. A few months ago, she woke up at 3am, rigid with fear, because she was so afraid of taking a drink of alcohol as an adult, then becoming an alcoholic, then losing her friends and family, and finally, then death.

My child is gifted. She yowls and claws at her skin when putting on a shirt with an exposed seam. She cries and cries, because it burns her skin. When you scrape your knife across a plate, her little hands fly up to her little ears, and she winces and clenches her teeth. If you play music that has a synthesized voice, she runs out of the room and pleads with you to turn it off. She is so afraid of pain, and this is pain that we can’t see.

My child is gifted. She understands death. Her Papa, who she was so close with, she was like his little shadow, had her sat on his knee on a Thursday morning. By Sunday afternoon, he was dead. Warm hugs one day and gone the next. My child was two. She understood the concept of death. That one day you are present, your heart beats, you can love and kiss and hug, and in no time at all, all that’s left is an empty chair where you used to sit. Because of this understanding, my child cannot be alone. She is filled with fear when she senses that no one else is in a room with her. You can hear panic in her voice when she calls you, even if you’re just one room away. My child is six.

Last week she was reading a book. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, the book decided to have a scene that was gruesome. It was real, it was concrete, and it was surely dangerous. Tossing the book aside, hysterical and crying and rocking and shaking, my child fell apart. She fell apart because she saw some random words, on some random page, in some random book, on some random day that made her feel fear.

My child is gifted, and my child is afraid. I think I understand.

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comic relief.

this comes via http://www.nerdist.com/.

nsfw,  but really really really funny.

you should go check out kyle kinane’s comedy album at iTunes.

Tagged

love you forever.

Many years ago, someone gave me a letter that, at the time, I didn’t realize would leave such an imprint on my life. In May 2002, my mother was almost killed in a highway collision. She was left brain injured, and a changed person. January 1, 2003, I discovered I was pregnant (Oh!). Between pregnancy and family and work and stress and life at the tender age of 26, I wasn’t tuned into much else.

When I was eight months pregnant, someone gifted me the infamous ‘Love You Forever’ story by Robert Munsch. This book is found in the children’s section, but it sets off waterworks regardless of age, race, color, creed or hormone levels. A coworker had asked to read it. He was a quiet person, but very genuine, kind and…I suppose I would say profound. I received this letter from him, written on the backside of a patient medication chart, a few days later.

“Dayna – thanks for the opportunity to read this book. It is a beautiful story, and, due to the situation I find myself in currently, it touched me on several levels. It is beautiful to see and be a part of the great river of love that flows endlessly from one generation to the next, etc., without skipping a beat, from one heart to the next. But that’s where the sadness lies too: none of our hearts beat forever. Each of us have been given a certain amount of time, each heart a certain number of beats. Perhaps we would be wise to mark our time here, count our heartbeats and cherish those who give us this unconditional, unquestionable love so that we too can give such love to others. This past weekend I helped my mom move, and already I can see how the sun is setting on her life. My mom loves me. So much. It’s not measureable. And I am blessed for it. And I have a three year old daughter whose big brown eyes are now just welcoming the sun rise on her life. My greatest hope is that I will be able to bless my little girl with such love too. I’m also hoping that I won’t be denied the opportunity and that no one will interfere (some people might put a dam in the river).

God bless us all. I didn’t intend on writing all this, it just came out. I’m not going to tell you if I cried after reading this story, either. Please don’t ask me.

Heartfelt thanks….”

I think, now, of my grandfather’s passing two weeks ago. At 92 years of age, by the time his heart pushed out its last number of beats, he had witnessed so many remarkable sunrises and sunsets. What an achievement. Looking to the future – my best friend will be bringing her child into the world in just a few short weeks. This new baby’s heart is already pumping, and the great river of love between mother and child has begun. God bless us all, indeed.

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give ’em something to talk about.

Is it wrong that I am not jumping off my chair to get the Boy a birthday gift?
Typically I’d have already gone overboard on him – cell phone, iPod, clothes….but this last year, and in the last week, this boy has cost us
greatly – both financially and emotionally. For now, the financial is easier to come to terms with.
Wednesday I arrived home to a sticky mess of iced tea on the floor and coffee table alongside my prized macbook. The macbook flashed its white screen of death, complete with a blinking folder emblazoned with a question mark. As a friend put it, for an underachiever, the Boy did well – it’s nearly impossible to kill a mac.
Shortly after mourning my mac, the Boy admitted that he lost his daddy’s iPod touch. Same day. Wowee. Isn’t that something. Do you think Dad will be mad, he asks. Well. How can I answer that when I’m still in shock over my sweet little wee computer? I guess I don’t really much care about the iPod, at this point, although I should. How about a quick breakdown of events, paired with costs, to show you what we’ve been dealing with. Internets, I know it could be worse. But when you’re in it, no matter the cost, it’s still tough.

July 2009: the Boy steals my rollerblades.
Cost: $ 210

August 2009: this newest bike, special edition & fancy from a friend of ours, retailing at about a grand, disappears. I later learn it was sold on ebay.
Cost: $ 300

August 2009: miscellaneous items – headphones, perfume (this masks the smell of weed, apparently), money, lighters, liquor (leftover from the wedding – valued at approx $ 400).
Cost: $ 900 (approximate)

December 2009: he plugs the toilet, and instead of plunging, reflushes, flooding the bathroom. His reasoning ‘the plunger wasn’t next to the toilet. I figured it was just was easier to keep flushing.’ This causes a flood, ruining carpet, baseboards, flooring, and as the water poured into the venting & behind the baseboards, it went into the electrical – ruining the smoke alarm circuits (3), two light fixtures, and ceiling.
Cost $ 1000 (approximate)

January 2010: the motor on the fridge is inconsistent. To remedy this, the Boy bashes his fist through the timing mechanism located on the ‘roof’ of the fridge. This causes the motor, cogs, and bits and parts to become dislodged from their compartment, and then lodged into the bottom of the freezer. This wrecks the fridge entirely. Home Depot keeps pushing back delivery of our new fridge, and it takes eight weeks to arrive. Let’s add in the cost of daily groceries, just for giggles.
Cost: $ 1250 (fridge)
Cost: $ 1000 (grocery approximation)

March 2010: as outlined in the opening paragraph. Side note: we haven’t backed up in awhile. Years. Our fault, admittedly.
Cost: $ 1200 (macbook)
Cost: $ 750 (adobe creative suite for mac)
Cost: $ 6000+ (approximation music costs)
Cost: $ 280 (iPod touch)

Truth be told, I’m not really very good at math. And if I tally these numbers up, I just may fall right off my axis. Better to just get it out of my head and onto this page for the world to see.

So, when his daddy asked me today what we should get the Boy for his birthday, I was stunned into silence (which is uncommon). What do you think, Internets? What would you do? I’d like to buy him some rehab. After all, it’s only twelve grand.

a brief history.

He’s 16. Looks like his daddy. Has never been able to call me mama, because his own mama won’t let him. I’ve been around for ten years.

So he and I became good friends. He refers to me as his sister instead of his stepmom. I’m 33. Not so hard to believe.

He’s on a jagged path in his drug use. But he’s 16, the world is his oyster, and he’s invincible.

Sometimes I need to talk. I’m not the mama, but he’s still my boy.

the Boy