Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: The Girl on the Other Side of the Glass

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Girl on the Other Side of the Glass

BREAKING NEWS: Erik drank from a straw for the first time yesterday! I jumped up and down.

This week the three of us went to a nearby pizza parlor for an Oregon State University sports presentation. I usually stay home to care for Erik, but the setting seemed casual enough for Huggies and sippy cups, and I was extremely hungry for a few slices of Canadian bacon and pineapple. After a quick assessment by the admissions staff at the door, Erik was admitted free of charge. That was a gigantic mistake on the university's part. Despite his size, he ate man-sized servings of pizza as fast as I could chop it up and present it to him. We all did a great deal of Van Damage to the buffet table. When the social hour came to a conclusion and the presentation was about to start, Erik and I excused ourselves and headed for the play room, a wood-paneled room filled with screened-in, alarmingly dusty 1980s playground equipment, various video games, and a miniature electric merry-go-round. I noted it was the first time it was not 4000 degrees inside. Usually the combination of electronics, red-cheeked children sweating buckets, and lack of circulation creates a dripping rain forest in this particular room. I took in a deep breath of cool air and realized too quickly that although the temperature was perfect, everything still smelled like thousands of feet. Shaking off my disgust, I made myself comfortable on a wooden bench and let Erik stand in front of me, free to do as he pleased. He only clung to me tightly as children zoomed by, screaming like banshees and throwing stray balls from the ball pit at each other. Erik was less than impressed. Frankly, so was I. He began his anxious rocking and threatened to melt down, but he held it together for a few long minutes before the inevitable bout of scarlet-faced sobbing came. I scooped him up and took him out of the chaos, closing the door behind us. Luckily, the extra event room was empty except for tables of pizza and beverages, and the restaurant staff said we were welcome to make ourselves comfortable there. We found a chair next to a bank of windows looking into the play room and watched the children play their demonic little games, all of their screeches muffled by panes of glass. It wasn't long before a hyperactive boy pounded on the lever on the emergency exit and an alarm began to shriek. I muttered a quick prayer of thanks that we were still not sitting on the bench in that room.

I admit that sometimes I wonder if Erik was made just for me. I have said it before, and I'll say it again. I don't believe in the whole "God chooses mothers for special children" thing. I know a lot of people do and I completely respect that, but personally I never bought into that theory. For the most part, when I have been the recipient of that ancient platitude, it has stung badly. I felt isolated and singled out, especially when the well-meaning person telling me this has a gaggle of typical kids. On the other hand, I freely admit there are times I know I couldn't have a child more suited for me. In this particular case, we were both happier away from the noise, quietly drawing pictures of our family on napkins pulled from our table dispenser and enjoying just one more slice of Hawaiian pizza together. We sat like this for an hour, and my lap began to go to sleep under 30 pounds of a pizza-stuffed Erik Quinn. A little boy came to the opposite side of the window to look at Erik, stuck his tongue out, and crossed his eyes. I waved back at him, and he went on his way. When we glanced up to check on the action, kids scrambled all over the dirty, giant playground tubes like nimble ants on an ice cream sandwich. The loudspeaker occasionally blasted out diners' order numbers, making Erik and I jump. To ease the tension, I would repeat the numbers in different voices, trying to make him laugh. We ARE undoubtedly perfect for each other. Maybe this is just sour grapes. Would I be happy with a typical child? Yes. Do they appeal to me anymore? Not really, although there will always be an ache in my heart for what could have been, and I will forever wonder what Erik would be like with just 20 more genes. I can even see why some people think I was chosen for this. However, don't expect me to think this is fair. Ever.


Blogger ~Deb said...

I'm not sure about the theory of 'he was made for you' or 'God picked him for you' type of thinking, but I can definitely see the love and the acceptance that you have for him. You're noticing so much around you - and so much that you wouldn't want. Sometimes when we see the other side of the fence, it's usually greener... But if we get a good, long hard look at it, it's usually a shade of brown. Not so green. You're fortunate, and so is Erik.

Now, as far as pizza with bacon and pineapples, I'm not sure I'm feeling that - especially eating at a place that smells like a thousand feet???

God bless Nancy and enjoy your weekend! Thanks for being so open and honest on your blog.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Thank you, Deb!

Okay, being from opposite sides of the country, we are bound to have different ideas of what pizza should taste like. I am dying to taste New York pizza. I heard it's fabulous and nothing like ours.

And in my defense, I smelled the feet AFTER I ate the majority of my dinner. :)

You make me smile. Have a great weekend.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Amy K said...

Strange as it might sound to you, but Avery is typical to me and most people who know her. So to try and imagine what she would be like with 20 additional genes, hmmm, no appeal in it for me. But I know, that is me, not you and I fully respect your thoughts as it relates to this, and other things of course! BTW I have been meaning to tell you, last week I brought out the mini food processor made especially for processing baby food and Avery would have jumped out of her high chair and clung to the ceiling had she not been strapped in. This is one of the few incidences in which her hypersensitivity to noise has emerged lately. I laughed thinking about you and how next time I'll have to blend up her food in the bathroom. You know what else, I read in one of your posts Erik wakes up after about an hour of sleep for no reason, Avery does this too and just a little lulling gets her back down. I can never figure what the deal is, what do you think?

9:44 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Amy - Erik is SUPER sensitive to sound. He seems to be over the top in that area compared to our other kiddos. As for the waking up screaming thing, Erik is doing it less and less. I wish I could just ask him what's wrong when he does it. I'm at a loss to explain it, but he seems to calm back down without any ill effects. My guess is that Avery is going through something temporary, too. xoxox

9:52 AM  
Blogger kathi said...

My favorite pizza; thin crust with mushrooms, onions, jalapeno's and pineapple...sometimes extra cheese.

I dunno. I believe that God knew us and each day of our lives before we ever came into existance. I think you were made to be Eriks and he was made to be yours.
However, that's just my 2 cents.

Hugs to you and lot's of love.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Aspen said...

I have never been a fan of that theory. Actually, about two months after Daven's diagnosis a lady said that to me and I almost punched her in the face. To this day, she has no idea how close she came to having a black eye! HA!

Love you both...

3:24 PM  
Blogger Lisa R said...

NYC Pizza...YUM YUM....We have to hook up! :)

6:38 PM  
Blogger Kerry said...

First off - yeah for straw sucking! :)Just think how much fun he'll have blowing INTO the straw and having milk bubbles!!

Secondly, I never bought that theory about children choosing their mothers (why haven't more chosen me?? LOL)... I do think everything happens for a reason, though. Maybe it's a coping mechanism, but it always seems to work out, so I'll stick with it. I ahve to say I never had an experience like Aspen and would wholeheartedly agree with the punching thang :)

9:34 PM  
Blogger Lizard Eater said...

Yeah, my sister. You know I agree with you. So, what are your thoughts on the whole "It's like you had a trip planned to Italy, but wound up in Holland" thing? Boy, I hate that one. Hmm. I think I might have to make up my own version of it.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

LE -- Surprisingly, that one doesn't bother me just because it describes how I feel exactly. Everything else makes me want to get into a slap fight with someone, though.

Hope you are having a good weekend!

8:19 AM  
Blogger Rosemarie said...

I must confess that on the toughest days of growing with Julia I confirm aloud that God knew I would take care of her the way she needed.

I understand your feelings of frustration with those who have made flippant remarks about God choosing you for Erik or vice versa. Nonetheless, I’m sure their motive was exactly the opposite of what you felt.

I agree that you and Erik are perfect match. And, in this post, you’ve discovered that.

I believe that in sharing your true thoughts you are allowing yourself to heal and process the pain of your reality.

9:20 AM  

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