How the Long Distance Is Working

I mean, we miss each other. It’s hard. But we’re okay. I am fortunate in having recently gotten a gently used laptop, which means that my older laptop will go to the Mister, which means that he will have his own computer and we’ll be able to Skype whenever we like. And, you know, he’ll be able to read the news and check hockey scores.

We were on the phone the other night, and I brought up the fact that I don’t run everything by him anymore, and haven’t for a while. At first, every small scheduling change was brought to him so that we could talk about it—but I handle most little things on my own, now, although I usually end up chatting with him about them. Joey’s occupational therapist can’t see him Thursday, so I canceled his Friday group and she’ll see him then; we’re hosting a play date on Friday morning; I think we’re going to give all of Joey’s teachers and therapists homemade candy and ornaments for Christmas. That kind of thing. The separation has made me grow up in some ways, has made me tougher and more independent—but I don’t think it has pulled us apart. Far from it: I think I can be a better partner now. This is a tiny and dumb example, but I really want to take Kit to see Big Hero 6 in theaters. Before the separation, I would have made Mister Book be the voice of reason on this one, but since he isn’t here, I had to admit on my own that he just isn’t ready yet, no matter how cool the movie is or how much I think he would like it. If I am too tired to parent in the morning, I still have to get everyone fed and diapered and dressed and into the car. If I am too angry at one of the boys to be fair, I have to just give him three minutes in time out while I get myself together—and then I have to open his bedroom door and be fair.

There’s no silver lining for my sweetheart; he’s just lonely and working hard. But I am going to visit him today, which is the greatest. I’ll be visiting him on my own for a week while the boys stay with the grands. I will drag him to a movie; we will exchange Christmas gifts; and best of all, we’ll just get to hang out together. I can’t wait.

6

Today is Cricket’s birthday. I’m hopeful about the birthday gift we sent this year; when they visited, Nora (upon hearing that I am a board game nut) told me that Cricket likes board games too. Those of you with board game nuts in your lives might know what she let herself in for; I wanted to know what Cricket likes to play. Well, said Nora, they have Monopoly. And Sorry. I asked whether they had any board games for kids, and she said, “Like Candyland?” I asked whether Cricket likes cooperative board games, and she didn’t know what I was talking about. Oh ho!

There are actually some great board games for kids; my little two are getting The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel and Don’t Break the Ice from Santa. I sent Cricket two board games; one is a competitive game called Fish Stix and is a sort of dominos variation, and the other is a cooperative game called Race to the Treasure! Since my mom, when she heard this story, also had no idea what a cooperative board game is, let me tell you: in a cooperative board game, all players are working together against the game rather than against each other. “Oh,” said my mother upon hearing my explanation. “Like that island game.” Because she lives with a board game nut, and has graciously suffered through several game nights with me.

I think that I am like most parents in that I want to be able to give my kids the things that I wish I had had as a kid—and I am trying to temper that with my understanding of their actual wishes and needs. I have always loved board games, and I played many games of Candyland with my siblings as a kid (and cheated! I can’t believe they never figured out that I creased all of the face cards), and I loved Clue when I was a little older, and now I am just waiting to hear a boy express the most casual interest before busting out Hi-Ho Cherry-O. Joey has a board game play goal in his behavioral therapy (thus Don’t Break the Ice—he likes it, although he prefers a rousing game of Break the Ice!), and while Kit isn’t quite old enough or temperamentally ready for most kids’ games, he has cheerfully played a few short games of Sesame Street Memory with me.

And now it’s Cricket’s birthday, and it looks like the party Nora threw him was fabulous, and I am so glad to know him even a little bit. Happy birthday, little dude. I miss you.

Hard to Know What to Say

I don’t quite know what to say about Cricket’s visit—he was here for two days, and within a few hours of his arrival, he was miserably sick with a temperature of 103.8. It was disappointing for all of us, and of course worst for poor sick Cricket; Nora kept mentioning that they hope to visit this spring, and for longer. But Cricket’s illness did take the pressure of, in some ways. We are not going to have the perfect visit. The boys are not going to play together in perfect love and understanding. So: let’s enjoy each other as best we can. If that means sitting in a hotel room with a miserable Cricket while he watches Sleeping Beauty, well, that ain’t nothing.

 

After Nora and Cricket left, of course, we got sick. And then Joey brought a bad cold home from school, and we’re still recovering from that one. And now today is Joey’s birthday; he’s four, and I can’t hardly believe it. That means that Cricket will be six in a few weeks, which is equally unbelievable. I don’t feel as unready for Christmas as I have some years, but there is a lot to do, and I’m still nursing that cold. That is my excuse for a small and unexciting update.

So, Susie, What Brings You Here?

Well, it’s like this: Cricket is coming to visit next Friday. It’s not a long visit—part of Friday, all of Saturday, and gone the next morning—and Nora and I have carefully talked things out. I’ll get to meet Nora’s girlfriend. I get to take Cricket (and Nora) to Big Hero 6. I like our plan, and I like that Nora is talking about a slightly longer visit next time, and I am just so sad about the loss of adoption all over again.

I guess this is just what my brain needs to do before a visit; during the visit, I need to be friendly and cheerful and supportive of Joey and Kit, and then after the visit I can be sad again. I miss Cricket, and I also feel as though I am not allowed to miss Cricket—I don’t know him that well, and I signed away my right to miss him the day after he was born. But I do miss him. I see him so much in Kit, too: not just in looks, but in sense of humor and silliness and other tiny things. I wonder whether that resemblance is as clear or as uncomfortable to Nora as it is to me, and I can’t ask.

I don’t have much more than that to say. But I keep wanting to send small messages to Cricket (“I am making pan de muerto on Sunday, and I wish that I could send some to you”; “I hope you like Kit more this year than you did last year”; “What does it feel like to have brothers in the way that you do?”; “I just saw a movie that maybe you would like”), and I can’t, so this is my message in a bottle. I miss you, Cricket.

My Great Big Gigantic

Joey is about to turn four. His birthday is on Thanksgiving this year, poor lamb, which means that we will be serving soy orange “chicken” alongside the more predictable holiday fare; the dessert options will include Skittles. I started planning a pirate party for him last month—and then I started thinking about a guest list, and got tense. When Mister Book visited last week (which was lovely, and I hope to write about that), I put it before him: Should I have a birthday party for him? I don’t know that anyone would come. If I were confident that at least three kids would come, I would go for it. But. Mister Book and I agreed that we won’t have a party this year, and Joey will neither notice nor care—but I feel crummy about it.

 

Joey’s doing well. One of my most painful memories from the time in which we started to worry about it, got him assessed, and started receiving services is of a conversation with a speech therapist who asked what Joey calls me. Nothing, I said. “Well, what does he do when he wants to get out of bed? What does he say?” Nothing, I repeated. He rattles the doorknob. I hadn’t even realized that this was a problem, and there were a lot of those, and I started to cry—the therapist realized what had happened and hurried to her next question in a not unkind sort of way. I tell you this so that you will know what a big deal it is that he now comes up to me a few times a day and says “Hi, Mima.”

 

I’ve started to pick out Christmas gifts for the kids; usually I’ve got that done by now, but this is the first year that it would be wholly inappropriate to give Joey gifts designed for kids his age, and that’s slowed me down more than it probably should. Joey is not making the progress on his school goals that anyone would like to see, but he loves school—today his class took a field trip to a pumpkin patch, and he had a ball.

 

I’m sorry to have been so gone for so long. I think about blogging often, but that feels miles away from actually sitting down and writing about what’s happening.

Questionable Timing, Susie

I keep waiting to have a really excellent post, but I’ve been waiting awhile, so instead I am just writing here in the middle of the night.

Kit has started to talk in silly voices a lot of the time—this is something that Cricket does. He cannot be pried out of his rain boots with a crowbar—this was true of Cricket for better than two years. There hasn’t been much of this sort of thing between Joey and Cricket, or even between Joey and Kit, because Joey is very much on a different path. But Kit and Cricket look alike, and seem alike in some other ways, and I will be interested to see them together later this year. Kit is mad for puzzles; I am planning to ask Nora whether Cricket is or has in the past been into puzzles.

Joey has finished his extended school year, and is one week into a five-week break; he doesn’t seem thrilled to be off school. I’m trying to get them out of the house most days, but I’ve been depressed and tired, so there have been too many days when we just end up taking a trip to the back yard. This week we have plans for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; I’m trying.

I’ve just finished a little freelance work, so I’m up after midnight, waiting to be able to sleep. The boys get up before 6 every morning, so tomorrow will not be a super energetic one on my end—note that we do not have an outing planned for tomorrow—but for sure the dudes can swim, and I can drink coffee and daydream about taking a nap.

I’ve struggled with depression for most of my life. I feel grateful to be at a point, now, where I can see the sadness and hopelessness as something that I don’t have to explain to myself or jolly myself out of; I can have those feelings and just try to let them exist without allowing them to rule my life. Some days they steer me more than I wish they could, and almost always they weigh me down, but I can enjoy the kids and give of myself to them and make jokes and read novels and see the depression as sort of running alongside instead of over my life. I’ve learned that when I am especially burdened, I have this different kind of exhausted compassion for the kids’ troubles that is quieter and less pushy than my normal variety, and that seems like a silver lining worth appreciating. Six or so hours ago, Joey just melted down, screaming and shaking and just beyond coping. He had a mild diaper rash, but I couldn’t find any other obvious cause for his distress—but just being held by me without having to endure a lot of stupid questions helped, and a bath helped the rest of the way.