Photograph taken by my most talented sister Susan. You can see more of her work at sflphotography.
Mae Mae is on playdate. Dawson is at school. I am playing catch up and trying to whittle down my To Do list. I stare at the list, which is always weighted with more items to do for Dawson. And today I want to crumple that piece of paper into a teeny tiny ball.
The list contains all the extra steps that have to take place for my little guy to make it in this world. I don’t want to see it on this 22nd day of June. I want to put that crumpled list on some sort of super fast speed boat and wave it goodbye.
As parents, we all have our To Do list for our kids. But the items on Dawson’s Things That Gotta Get Done list look more like an outline for a term paper. One main thing to do with lots and lots — and did I say lots? — of detailed items that need to be checked off to make it happen.
So on this day, his list looks a little like this:
1. Text babysitter and see if she is available on Wednesday nights to watch Dawson so that Dave and I can watch Mae Mae at her swim meets this summer. The sitter is needed because taking Dawson to the pool and then telling him he can’t get into the water because there is a swim meet would be like taking him to an ice cream shop and not letting him have anything. It just wouldn’t be fair.
2. Email sitter who lives in another state who will be joining us on our family vacation to help watch and supervise Dawson.
3. Make copy of waiver paperwork and mail to the sitter who will be helping us with Dawson while we are on vacation. Paperwork must be completed so that sitter can be paid through state waiver program. Before putting said paperwork in the mailbox, highlight sections that need to be completed and attach sticky notes to the parts that need to be notarized. Once paperwork is returned, take it to the library to get my part notarized. Make a copy of the paperwork and mail it. Follow up within a week to make sure that our packet is being processed.
4. Make a social story about our upcoming vacation and put it on Dawson’s calendar to prepare him.
5. Email out-of-town sitter and ask her to email me a picture of herself for the social story.
6. Make a phone call to the school principal to set up a time to meet and explore what Dawson’s inclusion time will look like next fall.
7. Email the teacher at Dawson’s base school in regards to my contacting principal about possible dates of meeting.
8. Double-check with Dave to make sure that he has ordered a lock for the refrigerator because our handy dandy Dawsonator can’t resist going into the kitchen at night and taking strawberries back to his room to eat. *Note: Until lock arrives, hide strawberries and grapes at the back of the fridge.
9. Mark on calendar the dates that the sitter who watches Dawson this summer needs off. Text several sitters to see who can sub.
10. Phone call to Dawson’s neurologist for follow-up appointment.
11. Contact his teacher to confirm logistics of getting Dawson to art class on Monday because I will not be able to drop him off since Mae Mae has swim practice and he would have to go with me to pick her up from practice at the pool. He would not understand why we were going to the pool and would most likely have a meltdown , so I need to make sure that they will be taking him from school to the art class.
If this last scenario does not make sense, well that is how logistics run at our house. We try to prep the little guy to go somewhere new or prep him if there will be a change to a routine. If prepping is not possible, then we go into Super Mommy logistics mode. This is when I get out that red cape that I keep in the closet and figure out a way to get my children where they need to go without causing Dawson stress and anxiety. And I tell you what, that red cape does come in real handy.
So yes, Dawson’s To Do list is long, with extra To Do’s that need to be done. They are a part of him, they are a part of us. And yes, Mae Mae’s lists are just as important, but they are not grueling or as tiresome. They are a quick phone call. They are a form that I can fill out in ten minutes while breezing through Does Your Child Have Any Special Needs That We Need To Aware Of? A quick N/A to this question and I am done. For her, the forms fly through my fingers. The words explaining where we are going and what we are doing glide through my mouth like a simple tune.
Planning for her is simple. Neat. And I crave it.
Helping Dawson navigate this world is like a 95 degree day in June. It hangs on my skin. It weighs me down. I try to push through it but even running through the stickiness of the hot days does not get me out of it fast enough. So I bang on the door, yearning for it to be opened so that I can feel the blast of cold air on my face.
And then the door is cracked opened. I feel the cool air from inside when Mae Mae sits behind me in the car as I head down the road taking her to a friend’s house for a playdate. I feel the cold on my face when she yells, “Mommy look, this is how you do six and half with your fingers!” I feel the heaviness in my body leave as I smile, ”Sweetie, I can’t look because I am driving, but I bet you are holding up six fingers and you have another finger bent down for the half.” She giggles, “Yes, Mommy! And this is how you do seven and a half, and that is how old I will be next summer!”
And when Dawson walks through the door after school, I will feel the coolness on my body again. He will bounce up the stairs, put on his pajamas, and burrow under his blankets. He will giggle as he thinks about his favorite Little Einstein Adventure video. And as always, he will smile when I repeat his words back to him.
The blast of cold air keeps coming when his teacher emails me late Friday night to assure us that they have taking Dawson to art class covered and they will have a social story ready for him on Monday morning. The icy air hits my face again when the out-of-town sitter’s enthusiastic email arrives in my inbox letting me know that she is so excited to help Dawson and our family! And when my sweet friend keeps an eye on Mae Mae at the swim meet so that I can run home and trade off with Dave so he can go see her last two races, I feel the sweet shade of her friendship keeping my family safe.
So on this hot summer day in June, I want to put that To Do list on a boat. But maybe not a speed boat. I think maybe a sailboat instead. Because I feel the chill of the breeze that hoists those sails and takes the boat far enough away to that I can breathe. And the laughter that is my children, the wisdom and strength that are his teacher, and the kindness that is my friends guide the vessel back to me. And when it arrives, I will smooth out the list. And I will work my way down that piece of paper.
As I mark things off, I will look up and see Mae Mae dancing through the kitchen with her mismatched pajamas on and her pink goggles covering her eyes. I will hear Dawson blowing his pinwheels in his room. Their sounds, their breath will seep into my soul. Like drinking lemonade on the front porch in the South, I will be refreshed. And the list will be made into a fan. Reminding me that if the To Do’s get too heavy or too hot, the breeze is always there. The cool air made by my children and the hands that hold us.
And if I can’t feel the breeze, I can always pull out the red cape. Because it was made by the very hands that blow the breeze and that magic cape works too.
Copyright Cheairs Graves June 22, 2012