Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Lift

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Today I dropped Erik off at school. I find the whole process gets easier each week. However, he is still so distracted around the other children and their noise that he doesn't seem to hear simple instructions. Today I thought the teacher and I were going to go hoarse asking him to hang up his jacket and backpack in his locker. He can unzip his coat halfway with a zipper pull and then shrug it off after some assistance, and I help him hang it on a little hook. He still seems completely unable to really see the connection between the hook and his coat. Perhaps he thinks the whole thing is pointless. Who knows. I just believe that he still doesn't really see things like other kids do. I left him with a teacher and headed to the nearby salon for a haircut.

I have been going to the same hairdresser since I was a teenager. During this time, she has worked in three salons, and I have followed her. We both went through the big hair phase together, and I came home from college periodically to have my hair permed into a glorious mane held in place by half a bottle of Aqua Net hairspray. Over the years she has listened to my stories of high school graduation, college, dropping out of college, going back to college, buying my first houses, marrying, having a baby, and dealing with Erik's diagnosis. She doesn't miss anything going on in my life, as she also cuts the hair of my best friend and my business partner. I feel strange when she asks me what I'm up to, because most of it now is related to my child. I often find myself answering questions about WS. While I would absolutely love to talk about something else for a change, I'm really excited about Erik and end up yammering for an hour about him. The salon experience isn't as relaxing as it used to be, but I still inevitably make her laugh until she snorts, and she always hugs me tightly on the way out. Today she told me I looked great (SKINNY, even!) and that it seemed to her that I have "figured everything out." Wow. I'm not sure about everything, but I suppose I have achieved a pretty good balance between my life as a mother and just being ME these days. That's a pretty big compliment. I walked out with a sassy new hairstyle and a giant smile on my face.

The school bus came to a stop in my driveway a little while after I made it home, and I climbed the chunky steps until I could see over the high backs of the chairs. Erik was strapped in, smiling and talking to himself. When Jeff, the bus driver, unlatched him, Erik headed to the back of the bus, almost rock-steady in his new orthotics, enjoying having the space all to himself, running his fingers over the floor to feel its grooves. Jeff asked if I was in a hurry, and I told him I wasn't. He instructed me to hang onto Erik and made his way down the steps outside to the wheelchair lift in the back of the bus. He opened the door and demonstrated how the metal platform, which seemed to have the consistency of a cheese grater, went from the bus to the ground. The mechanism was surprisingly quiet. After Erik struggled a bit with his anxiety, he let me hold him, and we crawled out onto the platform. I kneeled on the razor-sharp grate with Erik on my lap, and Jeff activated the machinery. We rode up and down at least twice as the wind and rain began whipping around us. We finally stepped off the bus and said our goodbyes. We waved and watched Jeff drive away.

Erik will be going to his aunt and uncle's house in Idaho for a portion of spring break starting next week. This is a big step for us all, but Brian and I decided that it would be good for all of us. It will be my second time away from Erik for a few days. We will meet Brian's brother halfway in the middle of BFE and make the drop. There is so little between our houses in our two respective states that the first time we made the drive, Erik looked across the dusty desert hills and said, "Ocean!"

I have always been big on the concept of "Team Erik." Erik has a team of friends and family that will be there for him no matter what, and his aunts, uncles, and cousins are a big part of that team. The bigger the team, the more relaxed I am, and I consider myself very lucky to be able to place my trust in such a dear group of friends and family that love Erik as if he were their own son.

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Blogger Julie said...

Are you and your husband going away anywhere fun while Eric is at your Aunts? Hope so. I think you are handling everything very well. All of you ladies inspire me.

My best friend is my hairdresser. I love going to get my hair done because she also does have of the people we went to school with so I get to catch up on the latest gossip.:)

4:49 PM  
Blogger camille said...

hi there,
I love your bus driver. What a sweetie pie. I can only hope we get someone as sweet as him.

That's so funny you mentioned dropping Erik off somewhere else because Adam and I were just trying to figure out what we're going to do with Connor when we travel to Canada for a wedding this summer. I think we'll probably leave him, which will be the first time both of us have been away from him overnight. So weird. And scary. But I think it would be good for us.

p.s. I wanna see pics of the new hair-do!

7:41 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Every experience, good and bad, will be great for Erik. Vacationing without the "rents" will be no exception. At least that is what I tell myself all the time! I can relate to the taking off the coat/getting it on the hook thing. Avery has this wonderfully practiced disinterested stare when I try to get her to do some thing I KNOW she is capable of doing.
See ya Skinny!

6:58 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

I'm so glad you are getting some time just you and your husband. I wish my hairdresser and I had a relationship like you have with yours. It'd be nice to have someone that cares like that.

7:12 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Good for you, and I know you will miss eachother, but am sure he will be in good hands. You will appreciate him even more than you already do when he returns home. :)

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Auntie Dee-ta said...

Hey there skinny girl!!

You would think a very very important kiddo was arriving here real soon with all the excitement that has been going on over here!

I am just so happy and feel very blessed that we are all so close and that Erik can come and hang out with us all and get spoiled and have lots of fun during Spring Break!

See you soon somewhere between here and there! LOL!

Love you oodles!!

By the way, did you watch Biggest Loser last night? I thought Dan was a ROCK STAR with his new hair-do! And my girl Brittany went home UGH!!!

And Jeff the bus driver totally ROCKS!!!!! I think we should throw him a party!

3:53 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

It sounds like Erik has a wonderful bus driver - he seems very intuned with the kids and patient and kind. How nice of him to show Erik the lift and give you guys a ride on it :)

I hope the visit w/his aunt and uncle goes well and you enjoy the little break!

8:24 PM  

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