Disclaimer: I am writing this on 4 hours of sleep.
It's Christmas Day. *sigh* It was the hardest one I've ever had. Nothing catastropic, nothing awful, nothing even really HAPPENED. Just a lot of things came into focus all at once.
I guess I'll start with Sunday (3 days ago). Laura was bed-ridden with a nasty cold and it was raining, so after a morning of entertaining Simon inside, I decided to take him to Ikea to let him run around.
*gross content warning*
About 10 minutes into our visit, I notice that he has "poop face". We're doing a sort of half-assed (pun intended) potty training regiment so I pick him up and practically run him to the bathroom to try to poop on the potty. He's pretty pissed about it, but gets down to business after I pulled out my phone to distract him with photos. He finished, and I've just taken him off the potty to wipe him, when he starts to barf. And barf. And barf. All over himself, all over me, all over the floor, all over the toilet. It's epic. I then realize I did not bring the diaper bag, so no clean diaper (this one is barfed on), no wet wipes, nothing.
I'm trying to get him to barf in the toilet (painfully aware we are NOT alone in the bathroom) and realize that I'm asking him to bend over his own poop and that the smell of that is actually what started him barfing in the first place. Awesome. My kid's own poop makes him barf. I have known this and we have had minor versions of this incident at home, but this...this is what I like to call a shit show. Oh, I forgot, speaking of shit-shows, when I get him off the potty, he still has poop attached and a nice big turd hits the ground, close to the stall next to us. I was busy trying to frantically clean that up when the barfing started.
I stand up to get us out of the stall to look for paper towels when I realize the tile floor is now the equivalent of sheet ice. Praying we don't have a Three Stooges-style wipe out, I get Simon to the sinks and desperately start looking for paper towels.
None. Not one. Not a single goddamn paper towel in the entire bathroom. Just endless rows of energy efficient air dryers. Freaking eco-Swedes.
I clean him up to the best of my ability, splash water on my face to rinse off the barf that has splattered onto my cheeks and herd him out the door to go look for an employee to notify about the carnage we have just left. Just outside the door is the woman we saw by the sinks (whom I assume witnessed our whole show via various senses). She is now giving us incredible stink eye. I was tempted to run up and give her a huge bear hug just to get her in on the party but I ignore her and found a staffer who was incredibly gracious about the whole thing.
We go over to the kids section and play there for close to an hour. I finally get him interested in moving on (I'm getting a little bored) and we move about 4 sections down the winding yellow brick road. We stop in a section that joins with 4 other sections (including some doorways).I look at something for a few seconds and look up to realize Simon is gone. Like...gone. I scan for his little dark head of hair, but don't see it. I go back the way we came, looking for him but I don't see him. I realize that this is like being lost in the woods and that I shouldn't wander around or I'll miss him.
One person wandering through a giant maze is not the most effective way to find a lost child so I walk up to a group of 4 employees hanging out. One of them smiles at me and says, "Hi there, can I help you find something". I reply very calmly, "well, so, um, I think I sort of lost my 4 1/2 year old son". You would have thought I just told him I saw a bomb.
He snapped to attention and immediately called his manager. He asked me for a description and then asked me two more times because he was so anxious. While he was talking to his boss, I look out to see his 3 coworkers plus 4 others spreading out on the mission. He assured me that they block all the exits immediately and just then they called a "code 99" (ie, lost child) over the loudspeaker. Within another minute, the manager walked up to me and before we could even really say much, he got the message via his headset that they had a match. We walked back to the area where we had first been and Simon was playing on the floor with a half circle of charmed female employee entertaining him. There were another 3-4 employees sort of standing guard around them. It was an incredible protocol and a totally uneventful experience for him.
For me, it was a really, really painful wake up call.
This was the first time I had ever lost Simon in a public place. (As an aside, I think going four and a half years without losing your kid should get you a medal or something) What I hadn't really ever thought about before Sunday was that Simon's pragmatic language delay is kind of dangerous.
He can't ask for help or give useful information. Especially under pressure. I'm not sure he would have even been able to tell them his name. He is pretty reliable with this question, but he might throw out one of the names of his classmates- Eduardo perhaps, or Delilah. It's like a Vegas Slot Machine every time you ask him anything- you could win big or you could get garbage. No telling.
I also realized that he had no idea or cares about being separated from me, so he wouldn't be looking for me and it would never occur to him, nor would he have the skills to ask for help. In some ways it's like he's an 18 month old running around in a 4 1/2 year old body. There are times when that is super charming and cute, but on Sunday, it terrified me.
I was up until 2 am last night spinning about all this, as we slept over at my Mom's house on Christmas Eve. When is he going to catch up? Is he EVER going to catch up? Will I have an 18 month old in a 14 year old body? Will he ever go to college? Can he ever be independent? We have to get him a medic alert bracelet. We have to start to talk to him about being separated and asking for help. How old will he be before he can remember our phone number and give it out appropriately and on command?
Then, just when I was starting to panic about not falling asleep, Simon woke up. When I leaned down, he clung to me like a tree monkey and demanded that I "LIE DOWN!". I obliged, cramming myself on his slowly deflating twin air mattress. Then he demanded I play "Sh'ma Israel", his current jam on the iPod. So I spent the next hour and a half of Christmas eve trying not to roll off a janky air mattress and listening to the same Hebrew song over and over and OVER again. Needless to say, by the time we all woke up 4 hours later, I was ready to kick Santa Claus in the nuts.
We had put out treats for Santa and his entourage so when my Mom came down, she led Simon over to go check and see if the treats had gotten eaten (they had). Then we tried to start opening presents. Again, a little like a knife to the heart. Simon was not having it. The kid had zero interest in opening boxes full of toys. Whaaa?
Almost every other typical kid his age would have been begging to open presents since 5 a.m. They would have been able to identify things they liked and ask for them in the weeks and months leading up to Christmas. Not Simon. Every time an aquaintance or co-worker has asked me what Simon asked Santa to bring him, I had to explain that "he's still a little to young to get it".
My coworker with a kid a little younger than Simon gave me a blank stare when I gave her that answer. She was right to be confused. He's not too young. He has some serious freaking delays and his wires are sort of crossed and he doesn't "get" stuff like other kids "get" stuff. He can recite the name of someone he met once 3 months ago or sing in the ancient Aztec language he picked up from a youtube video or spell "b-l-a-c-k" but there is so much stuff that does not appear to compute.
I really can't tell what happens to information that goes into his brain. I can tell it's all there. It's just like things aren't filed in the right places or he hasn't learned the code yet to retrieve them or read the cues for when to retrieve them. He wanted to put out carrots for Santa's reindeer tonight. He doesn't get that it only happens on Christmas eve, even though we've explained it about 20 times. He's got the file "carrot for the reindeer" but can't pull it out at the right time or place it where it needs to go. It's simultaneously fascinating and maddening.
Laura was sick and I was exhausted and it was raining, so my blessed mother entertained Simon most of the day while we lay around like lumps. It seriously takes a village, people.
On this Christmas Day, I'm sad to report that instead of a warm and cozy glow, I'm left with an anxious, exhausted, slightly dread-filled heart about what is to come.
Merry Freaking Christmas.
(Please review disclaimer at the top of this email. I'm pretty sure life is really not as bad as I made it out to be. )
Can't find the camera, so here's what we have since the last post
Looking dapper for a holiday party!
Laura snuggling with our old lady.
And this is a video of Simon and Laura doing the "Robot" to that dig dag doggone song.
Want to contact us directly? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com