Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: November 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Never think that God's delays are God's denials. Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius.

-- George-Louis Leclerc de Buffon

We made it to church this morning. Although we are now fairly regular about attending, we still don't go every week, and that's just fine with me. My attitude is slowly improving about the whole experience, despite my general dislike for organized religion, and my fear is beginning to fall away somewhat about letting Erik go to find his way in that particular environment. It just feels right. It is what I fought for.

We are now attempting to get there early enough to enter through the front doors so Erik can greet the greeters and other members of the congregation like the other children do. It feels gloriously normal. From there, we take a detour back out of the sanctuary and locate Marla, Erik's personal caregiver, to drop him off. This morning she mentioned she might take Erik into the sanctuary during the service for the very first time. Brian and I looked at each other and voiced our surprised approval.

This morning's message was about patience. The word was defined as the ability to live for the here and now, even in the middle of the incredible mess that life sometimes is, instead of trying desperately to control what we cannot and rushing to get to the next perfect thing we desire to do or be. It was explained how even the story of Christmas has been so sanitized and idealized that the pain, struggles, and heartache that accompanied and even helped bring about the miracles have nearly been lost. And how we might relate to it and find even more hope in the story if we know the chaos and the mess that went with what truly happened. Because we live in mess and chaos a lot of the time.

Part of my own personal mess includes the struggles with isolation and heartache that come with having a child with some very bizarre special needs. We have occasionally simply been forgotten and excluded in the past, even at church. Now that we are included as much as possible, things are still messy. For example, it rips my heart out to watch the other children gather at the front of the sanctuary for the children's moment during the service each time we attend. I'm getting accustomed to it and even enjoy it a bit, but it always stings my insides knowing Erik is unable to participate.

Today, though, the door to the sanctuary opened, and Brian whispered, "Here comes Erik." I turned to see his little face bobbing in the group of other children. Marla sat down with him on the edge of the group nearest the door. Erik seemed slightly anxious and hell bent on loudly repeating "Happy New Year" to whomever would listen for some reason, but Marla whispered in his ear, and he finally became quiet. His eyes were wide, and he looked up at the lights and then around at the faces of the other children. When coins were dropped into a metal bucket to fund meals for the hungry in our community, the sound caused Erik to cover his ears in alarm. However, he remained sitting on the steps with the other children. The steps he has never touched before. The steps where I once stood in my polka-dot dress to be baptized. The steps where I waited alone in an empty sanctuary for Brian to see me for the first time in my wedding dress. The very same ones. Now Erik had a place on them with everybody else. Finally. My heart swelled with happy ache.

I felt hot, embarrassing tears welling up in my eyes, and I tried to will them away.

As the children finished their portion of the service and they were told to leave for their age-appropriate programs, Marla pointed us out to Erik. By this time, the tears were quietly flowing from me like rivers. They ran down both cheeks and the front of my neck into my sweater. There was no stopping them now. We began waving at him. Erik was obviously surprised and smiled back as he was led past our pew. The people around us smiled and glanced back at us, too, not knowing our story but obviously appreciating our unusual, unbridled enthusiasm. From there, he apparently spent the majority of his time in the children's program he would normally be part of. The very program that has not been possible for him in the past because of his hearing. By Marla's side, he had very little trouble this week.

We gathered our things after the service and found Erik and Marla. As we turned to leave, I threw my arms around Marla (something I do not normally do) and hugged her tightly. I then plucked one of the last shortbread cookies from a tray for Erik, and we made our way outside. Erik squinted his eyes tightly shut as Brian held him up to the rope hanging down from the church bell, and Erik gave it a few tugs, filling the air with bold, joyous clanging. I made small talk as I fought persistent tears and marveled at how completely wiped out I felt. I laughed out loud at this and sighed.

I was a happy mess.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Seasonal Affective Disorder

He is a blur as he runs circles around the house and pushes a toy truck. Sensing my complex tangle of emotions with his heart-radar, he screeches to a halt and looks at me sitting in my favorite spot on the couch with a blanket pulled over my lap. He expertly softens his voice, which he he has been using to create the rude, hoarse rumble of an engine to power his truck for the last 20 minutes, and asks, "Mama, are you happy?" He looks at me with pure-white hope in his eyes, desparetely willing my mouth to form the word "yes." One time when I admitted that I was sad, he burst into tears, and we both cried. I don't do that anymore.

I feel a wide smile forming on my face, despite the horrible holiday ache that is setting in, and tell him that his mama is just fine. He turns his head to the side slightly and stares at me more intently, as if he doesn't believe a word, but he lets it go. He smiles politely and pushes his truck to another destination in the kitchen. As he passes, I see one of his little toes boring a hole through yet another set of PJs.

The Christmas lights create chase away the darkness of morning, and my coffee steams in the confines of its cup. My lips draw from it, and I feel it warming my insides. I will get through these strange couple of months that bring the dark things that I have worked so hard to suppress to the surface. I will get through them, just as I do each and every year, and put them away with the decorations in January. Starting a new year not knowing what is ahead has always scared me to death, even when I was alone and things were simple. It's thrilling and frightening all at the same time.

There is much to be thankful for this year. Despite the familiar holiday ache setting in.

Labels: , ,

Friday, November 21, 2008

Just Wait

Today I stood at the front desk inside Erik's school waiting for the receptionist to feed Erik's immunization record through the copier to prove he received his hepatitis shot last January. I have never talked to this woman before, and she didn't look familiar to me in the slightest, but that's not unusual. I have never been great with names and faces.

When she reappeared behind the desk, she returned the waxy, yellow document to me, and I slowly folded it up to place in the zippered pouch inside my purse. She made small talk by commenting on my organizational skills, and I laughed, knowing that yesterday's crusty breakfast dishes were soaking in my kitchen sink waiting for me when I arrived home. What she did next surprised me. She leaned over the counter, directly into my personal space, as if she were about to reveal a guarded secret.

She said, "You know, Erik is my favorite."

She then explained how he had reached up to tightly grip her hand when it was time for him to board the bus the other day. She described how she let him lead her out the front door and the way he jumped with alarm when the incoming bus hissed loudly to a stop. How he apparently looked up at her and said, "Air brakes." She giggled at the memory, and I smiled back.

I can't count the times I have heard that Erik is somebody's "favorite." I know that people generally love children, but I am beginning to wonder if some of that weird special something in Erik that I have always seen is shining through in a big way and pulling people in. At the beginning of this, I dismissed my amazement, knowing that I do not see things very clearly in my role as his mother. Especially one who has never been around children a heck of a lot. After all, even if he were miserable to be around, I would still believe he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. However, as time passes, I can clearly see the unique effect he has on the people around him. Even the pathologically cranky ones. I am often amazed at the magic that Erik seems to exude. Erik has a confidence I can only dream of.

For people who are new at this Williams syndrome thing, all I can say is JUST WAIT.

Yes, the diagnosis is devastating. I know this well, and it always will be at some level. Yes, it feels as if the world is ending. Hang in there. You will be completely blown away as your personal story unfolds and you dare to open your eyes. As the innocence manifests itself. As the love pours from your child like a river from an almost heavenly spring you cannot see. As you let your defenses fall away and the world sees your child for who he is for the very first time. As little miracles become everyday occurrences. As he touches people who are hurting in places you could never reach with your adult words and your carefully rehearsed, socially acceptable phrases. As he becomes your personal hero. It sounds completely crazy. I know it does.

I wish I could share with you how incredible this experience feels.

For now, there is only one thing I can say.

Just wait.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More Miracles

You are my special angel
Sent from up above
The Lord smiled down on me
And sent an angel to love

-- "You Are My Special Angel" (Bobby Helms)

We just returned from the children's cardiology center. There has never been any danger of the staff forgetting Erik. They are amazed at how much he has grown. Erik walked right into the nurses' station singing "You Are My Special Angel," which is our song. Stinky Dog was allowed to come on this adventure, and Erik introduced him to the ladies. Luckily, he was less stinky than he usually is.

Erik previously received a DVD on John Deere tractors for his birthday from his friend Brandon in Portland. It is now on his top 10 list of favorite things. I brought it along to give to the technicians, and it was placed in the DVD player, much to Erik's delight. He also took advantage of the little wooden train set. For the very first time, Erik allowed himself to be weighed (35.7 lb.) and measured with a little reassurance from Brian, and his blood pressure and pulse were done without tears. Ten leads were placed on his chest, and an electrocardiogram was performed. The technician printed him his own sheet of graph paper striped with the jagged peaks and valleys of his heartbeat. The lights were then turned down, and I snuggled up to Erik on the bed as the skin on his bare chest was dotted with more stickers clipped with wires. Even Stinky had a sticker placed on top of his head.

It was over before we knew it. No sedation required. As an added bonus, the technician now is quite knowledgeable about steam tractors.

After the study, Dr. T came in to explain what she had seen on the study. Miraculously, there is no narrowing whatsoever in the blood vessels they imaged. Surprisingly, the study was suggestive of a bicuspid aortic valve (or two of three leaflets sticking together), and they will look at this again next year. However, this was merely an incidental finding.

We said our goodbyes, and a photo was snapped of Erik to place on the wall. We then walked over to the orthopedic center to look for our neighbor behind the coffee counter, but she was not working yet. The woman working in her place assured Erik she would tell her he had stopped by to visit, and I bought a couple chocolate chip cookies before we headed back home.

Labels: ,

Monday, November 17, 2008

Breakfast with Erik Quinn

Our echo is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 8. I will bring DVDs with us and see if Erik can get through it without sedation but will not feed him breakfast in case we need to put him under. Because of his anxiety about being in a medical setting and his tendency to be in constant motion, I suspect sedation will be required. If all goes well, we will only need to have one more yearly echocardiogram when Erik turns 5. I can hardly stand this.

The following video is a bit dark, but I shot it this morning during breakfast and hope you enjoy it. Erik is a morning person just like his old mama.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lock Up When You Leave

Will I ride the summer winds
or dance upon the crimson horizon
Will I find paradise in hell
If I go deep into the woods
If I go to this cabin

-- "This Old Cabin" (Agalloch)

You might remember that I used to daydream about hiding in a log cabin when my heart simply could not take any more pain. I would place Erik on the soft, braided rug that cushioned him from the rough planks of the floor to play. I would light a fire and bake something that filled the room with the scent of cinnamon and vanilla. The red and white gingham curtains would always be drawn tightly shut over the little glass panes above the kitchen sink. The place felt ancient and worn but gave me so much comfort. The two of us were always snuggled inside, away from the world. We were perfectly bonded as mother and child there, and no words seemed to be necessary. I never saw what was outside and had no desire to peer into the darkness that seemed to surround us. In fact, I can't remember the place having any other windows at all. It was the strangest daydream I ever had. I used to go there quite often.

I have no idea how or why.

I can remember the place vividly in my mind, but I haven't been there for well over a year now. Sometimes I want to return to air the place out, but I know that is an excuse to poke around and see the place clearly, which I was not meant to do. We seem to have made our way out of darkness of the thick forest for good. I am still sad that I can't seem to find my way back. I suppose it served its purpose.

I have always wondered if people can detect the secret that is inscribed on Erik's DNA. I have heard that it is sometimes visible in his smile or on his face when he cries. The sheer horror of the diagnosis has faded after being exposed to daylight over the past couple of years, and I now find myself curious about the way the world sees him. Maybe that stems from a little fear, too.

I remember the day I knew my baby was different. I held a friend's infant on my lap. When this animated little girl smiled at me and simply moved her body, I saw everything clearly. The room began to spin, and I swallowed hard to fight the urge to vomit. I can't remember exactly what I said to my friend, but she definitely remembers that day, too. That was the exact moment I saw what had been lost. It just happened to be wrapped in soft, sweetly scented baby clothes cradled in my lap. A few days later I found the cabin in the woods.

I can still see the differences in Erik as he grows, and I am becoming comfortable with them. Hell, I even love most of them. At the same time, though, I'm blind to how the rest of the world sees him. It is not my place to see him any other way than I do. Sometimes, though, I wish I could step outside of myself and take a look. Maybe it's not important. I just feel that it might give me more tools to help him find his way somehow. I just don't want anything to injure me so badly that I feel like hiding again. There are some things, I suppose, that I am not meant to see.

Erik and I are no longer hidden from the world. Our interactions with it have been mostly wonderful, but we are still incredibly new at this. If I am asking questions, I think I am ready to open my eyes and tackle what comes our way.

There's no turning back now.

I just hope that the woman who discovers that strange little cabin next takes comfort in the faint scent of cinnamon left behind and the warmth of the fire she will eventually learn to build. I really miss that place.

However, it's time for me to leave it for her to find.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 14, 2008

Updated Vital Stats 2008

Name: Erik Quinn (a.k.a. Skooby, Booga, "E," Love Bug, Buddy, Baby Boy, Cute Stuff)

Hair: Dirty blonde

Eyes: Blue-gray with lacy starbursts that drive the ladies wild

Age: 4 years and change

Sign: Libra

Weight: Probably well over 35 pounds now

Height: Darn tall with long legs (over 50th percentile for typical children)

Likes: Cookies of any sort, Boppa and Gua, monster trucks, John Deere steam tractors, making up words and laughing, playing the keyboard, You Tube, dinner parties, Stinky Dog, church (more cookies), light reading, PB&J, laundry, running, playing in dirt/sand, and being told "yes."

Dislikes: Doctors/nurses, vegetables, having to go inside after being outside, loud noises, sitting still, babies, anything stinky (excluding Stinky Dog), Gracie-Cat, and being told "no."

Recommended Reading: Big Joe's Trailer Truck by Joe Mathieu

Favorite Music: Wiggles and Doodlebops

Favorite Toys: Stinky Dog, Salad spinner (best wedding gift EVER), and trucks.

Can: Walk AND run (a little shaky at times but very fast), do somersaults, sleep in big boy bed with safety rail, eat in a relatively civilized manner with fork and spoon, kiss with kissing noises, construct impressive sentences, sing, blow dandy bubbles, wave, identify numbers and count, identify letters and some of their corresponding sounds, and remember the names of people and the vehicles they drive.

Working On: Sensitivity to sound (much better), headstands, tightness in Achilles and other body parts, ascending and descending stairs, stability with movement, picking up toys, following instructions consistently, eating a greater variety of foods, and feeling more comfortable around children (much better).

Latest Phrases

"You wouldn't understand."

"Looks like poop."

"Smells like woof."

"See you in the meow!"

"See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya."

"Mama, can you cuddle for me, please?"

"It's wake up time!"


Thursday, November 13, 2008


The following is a post is dedicated to the women warriors in my support group. I love you guys. You are never alone. -- N

I remember the last time I accepted an invitation to have cocktails with a group of mothers I had never met before. How awkward it felt. How I felt like I had a dirty secret when I didn't immediately disclose the fact my son has a disability and how seriously f*cked up it all seemed after I did. I actually felt horrible for days afterwards. See, I can't win. No matter how I approached it, the evening was destined to be a complete disaster of epic proportions. Oh the humanity! In the end, I was forced to listen to women describing the artistic journeys of self-discovery their children were on...learning to make independent films, discovering natural athletic abilities, winning a series of prestigious awards, selecting a lifetime mate, picking out the perfect hue for bridesmaids' dresses, and writing the Great American Novel at the same time!

All while I wished my son could climb a flight of stairs without using his hands.

Finally, they turned their attention to me, and I was asked what preschool my son attended. After a small anxiety attack and trying to avoid answering the question, I was finally encouraged to reveal the name of the school he attends, which was then followed by a long stretch of uncomfortable silence. They were perfectly lovely people, but we weren't trained to really deal with each other. Instead, they sipped their neat, fruity concoctions in martini glasses, and I flagged down the waitress to ask her to bring me yet another whiskey. My explanation, which had not been practiced enough yet to sound smooth and comfortable, only made things more awkward. I felt horrible for me. I felt horrible for them. Although I harbored no resentment towards them, it was obvious that we lived in different worlds. That we spoke different languages. I can finally accept that.

Life is different these days. I have found a freedom I suspect many mothers have never dreamed of. I fantasize about being envied for it eventually. I am proud to say that I can look back at these moments and (ahem) at least begin to laugh. It's true. Don't get me wrong. I still avoid these situations like the plague, as I am not into torturing myself or others, but if I find myself in the middle of them without any sort of warning, I can laugh about it later.

Because now I truly have a secret.


Once I realized that this summer, a weight was lifted from my shoulders. Thank GOD! My good friend Laura, mother of beautiful Michaela, posted this, and I laughed. Long and hard. Watch the two women on the right.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How's Your News?

I wonder how many diseases, syndromes, and conditions come with their own handbook and/or newsletter? Just curious. Ours does. We're lucky that way.

We receive a newsletter from the WSA on Williams syndrome and those who were born with it. As the years have gone by, I have become familiar with more and more of the names and faces that make up this large, special family of sorts. The convention introduced me to many people with WS and their families.

As I usually do, I tore through my last WSA newsletter as fast as I could read. In the midst of feeling sometimes somewhat disconnected and geographically isolated from other WS families, I am always thrilled to see the newsletter in my mailbox because it never fails to provide hope from a medical/research standpoint and inspiration straight from the mouths of individuals with WS. I feel like the Laura Ingalls of the WS world sometimes out here on the prairie. Okay, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but you should know my flair for the dramatic and romantic by now, so hush.

This time I was surprised to hear of a new show on MTV called How's Your News? A team of individuals with different disabilities has gone on the world's coolest road trip, conducting news interviews with celebrities, people on the street, and politicians. They even did an election special with interviews conducted at both national conventions. What's even more unusual about this show is that three of the men featured on the show have WS. Three! Can you believe it? There is even an HYN band, which completely rocks, and the cast writes and plays their own music.

The show was inspired by a feature-length movie of the same name produced by the creators of South Park after they watched videos made by young people at a summer camp using a similar format. The film was successfully featured at indie film festivals nationally and internationally, and HBO/Cinemax purchased it. I recently ordered the DVD.

What is interesting about this particular show is the way people react when approached by people with disabilities. This is a great way to hold a mirror up to our society to get a good, honest look at ourselves under harsh department store dressing room lighting. I have only seen bits and pieces of what's to come on MTV but found myself cringing, laughing, and feeling a little angry by the responses generated. My "mama bear" instincts kicked in with a vengeance. I need to learn to let go and realize that the world doesn't end (a recurring theme in my learning to let go) when people are rude or ignorant. And that hopefully most people are kind and respectful. I remember that my experiences with adults with WS at the convention were generally the opposite of what I expected. Instead of feeling anxious and worried about the future, I felt a sense of peace and security being in their presence. I actually began feeling that everything just might be okay after all, even if things look a little (okay, a lot) different than I expected them to. I have learned so much from Erik and the people who are wired like him. The mother of one of my favorite HYN cast members explained in the newsletter that her son knows the difference between being funny and being made fun of. And I believe her.

I hope I can let down my defenses and laugh a little, too. From what I have seen so far, I think I'll do that. This is a show filled with what I have come to know as "woo hoo moments." They fuel my fire and keep me dreaming about all that is possible.

According to the web site, the show is scheduled to air in February 2009. Here's an interview Jeremy Vest did with the band Dispatch. The look on the band member's face at the end when they start to jam is priceless. As Erik would say -- "Yeah, baby."

Labels: , ,

Friday, November 07, 2008


I sat in church next to Brian today and ended up craning my neck to see the small door across the sanctuary that frames three square glass panes. I previously detected movement behind the glass in my peripheral vision and turned my head to look, instantly recognizing bits and pieces of Marla, the woman who cares for Erik during church services. I spotted a neat ponytail. A flash of disembodied, bright smile directed at an invisible somebody in the hall. I then thought I saw a piece of Erik. A long, stiff leg encased in a plastic brace kicking from an awkward, high angle. Perhaps from an invisible somebody's arms. I smiled and lost track of the sermon. When I glanced back at the pastor and then back at the door, he was gone.

During our church services, young children are called to the front of the sanctuary. They are usually given a trinket or encouraged to use props to help illustrate a popular Biblical story or a heartwarming but educational anecdote. From there, they are instructed to follow a woman in a jaunty, brightly colored hat to their age-appropriate Sunday school programs while their parents continue to worship. Erik has never been a part of this group. It is simply not possible at this time because of the sometimes crippling side effects of his syndrome. Instead, I search for glimpses of my child through the windows surrounding the congregation during the service, hoping to see his face as he leads Marla by the hand. He loves going to church, and we have never forced him to do anything that causes him discomfort in a place where he should feel safe and loved throughout his lifetime. Unfortunately, it has been a long road reassuring him that he is safe and loved in this often noisy environment filled with the children he prefers to avoid. As the adults gather after the service, Erik is in his element. He reaches his arms out to each and every person that passes by, almost frantically grabbing at their clothing and smiling up at them. In fact, he is usually so desperate to grab onto strangers that Brian and I are sometimes forced to carry him out the front of the building so he is unable to get his hands on people. It can sometimes be quite awkward. It's beautiful but scary, sad, and frustrating at the same time, too.

Some Sundays I don't think about our odd church arrangement much at all. We attend every other Sunday and dutifully call Marla at home the night before to instruct her to meet us inside the front doors. However, some Sundays I think a lot about it as we sit quietly inside. I wonder why we have to watch other children sit still listening to stories as Erik wanders the rest of the building haunting classrooms and the nursery as much as he can tolerate. He seems to fill the role there as the greeter who never fails to spread smiles before disappearing when things become too loud or frightening.

This Sunday was somewhat difficult for me once again, but I noticed that my eyes don't threaten to fill with tears much anymore. They remained bone dry, but my heart was heavy. The people who watched me grow up in the church patted me sweetly as I passed by and offered friendly hellos, but I honestly don't really know much about them these days. Williams syndrome has isolated us all now for years. I am thankful, though, for some friendly faces in the crowd, and I find myself grinning back.

Erik, however, seems to be another story.

While we sit quietly or sing strange, contemporary songs that seem to punctuate new-fangled church services these days, Erik is behind the walls making his rounds. The choir room. The classrooms. The library. The commons. The offices. Each time we emerge into the hallway with the rest of the coffee-swilling, cookie-munching crowd, Erik is standing at Marla's side with his hand nestled in hers, smiling up at an ever increasing number of fans, most of which obviously know him by name. Marla is always smiling broadly. As we said our goodbyes today, Marla told us both that Erik was truly a joy. Her husband just had colon cancer resected, and she informed us that she really needed some time with Erik.

I still wonder if Erik will ever be able to sit still enough to join us at church. Or anywhere, for that matter. To be comfortable surrounded by children in front of the congregation, laughing at really lame jokes and learning things like other kids do to the amusement of the congregation. Probably not. At least not in the near future. By then, he will be too old for this kind of activity, anyway. We have missed out on a lot of little things parents take for granted, and I have mourned each and every little thing before I learned to move on. I know that accepting reality will make things easier. It always does.

For now, though, I see how amazing this little guy of mine is. He is a cheerful apparition dancing on the fringes of what is considered normal there, holding a strong, reassuring hand and spreading smiles before sometimes dissolving into the shadows again when the other children appear.

In fact, if you look away for a moment, you just might miss him.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, November 06, 2008


All day Tuesday Erik was absolutely furious with me. He flatly refused anything I offered, even if it was something he really wanted. Frustrated, I finally bundled him up in his jacket and took him outside. We walked up the road to my friend's house to visit the golf carts Erik loves so much. There are two of them sitting by her barn now. A couple of years ago, my friend's husband would whisk me home in one of them to hasten my trip in nasty weather. He would skillfully navigate the thing at maximum speed despite a beer can in one hand and a burning cigar in the other. Their little dachshund would stand in my lap, taking up the entire length of one of my thighs, and his long ears would blow back in the wind, making him look a lot like a serious and regal hood ornament. We would zip over the gravel, and I would giggle with glee, despite my efforts to remain dignified. On top of everything, my eyes would water in the frigid air, and my makeup would run.

Those days are over now for the golf cart. It now sits silent after years of abuse by the sometimes pickled teenage kids who took it for daring joyrides over the dirt berms on our property. Some of the maneuvers I have witnessed that golf cart do late at night would put the Duke Boys' General Lee to shame.

Now it sits next to another aging, broken-down golf cart in need of repair, sporting widening spots of decay in its fiberglass body. The cup holders collect nothing but dust and rain water.

Erik could care less. He still thinks it is the best thing since sliced bread.

I allowed him this unexpected, luxurious visit and smiled at his delighted reaction. I sat in the passenger seat of the white cart and took a call for work while tiny snowflakes fell around us like bits of campfire ash. Erik laughed to himself and circled both vehicles, slowly bending to closely inspect each wheel as he went, appreciating every inch of machine. Meanwhile, I spoke on my cell phone and tried to sound professional by willing my teeth to stop chattering.

When I was frozen solid and my call was finished, I told Erik it was time to walk back to the house. If his vocabulary included filthy words, I am certain he would have used them all on me. I was then forced to carry over 35 pounds of boy back down the road. By the time we reached the porch, the fury had fizzled to grief, and tears and snot ran down his face in slimy rivers. My legs were beginning to sting from exertion.

He said, "I am crying because I am sad!"

I told him that I understood and while that was okay, this type of overreaction would cause me to think twice about visiting the golf cart graveyard again. He sprawled on the kitchen floor, stomach down, and continued to sob, looking up at me intermittently to gauge my reaction.

By that evening, he had been overtaken by a raging fever. I was relieved there had been something fueling his odd behavior and mood swings but felt nervous about another round of high temperatures. The boy is rarely ill, but when he is, he usually gets very high temperatures. They reached 103 yesterday. His cheeks were blotchy, and he asked me to lie on the couch with him. He was soon snoring, and it was strange to see him as anything but a blur zooming around the house. He was motionless, and I wrapped my arms around him and stroked his gorgeous hair. As soon as it was time for more Tylenol, the skin blotches would form again before they ran together into a furious blush, and his eyelids seemed to become heavy. He would wake intermittently and attempt to jump up and sprint across the living room, mumbling the names of people he thought were coming for a visit or about pieces of his favorite construction equipment. The color of his skin caused him to look like me after a step aerobics class at the gym but soon returned to normal after I held him down and shot cherry-flavored Tylenol down his throat from a syringe.

Today he is a sight. His hair has an unidentifiable substance dried in it, and he is wearing pajamas in the middle of the afternoon a la Howard Hughes. There are crusty islands of Malt O Meal dried on his chest. Old tears have dried on his cheeks, leaving salty rings.

For the life of me, though, I can't seem to get a hold of the guy to begin to clean him up. It seems that the fever is receding.

He is once again a happy blur. At least for now.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Halloween Photos