It stops you in your tracks. All the whining, all the bullshit, all the drama suddenly seems so ridiculous when you’re in the car driving to a blood test for your kid.
I know he’s going to be fine. Jake has never done a single thing in a “normal” fashion- why should bruising be any different?
When he was born, c-section, he came out wide-awake. He never really cried, just looked around. I followed him into the nic-u- because I had not given birth this time and could actually move after my child was born- and was amazed by how alert he was the whole time.
When I brought him down to Jeanine, who had been moved to a room and getting high as a kite on whatever painkiller they gave her while sewing her up, he latched on and started nursing right away.
And then he stayed awake.
I knew I was screwed. This was not a typical baby. Food wasn’t going to put him to sleep and he was going to be interested in everything.
He is. To this day. He never needed much sleep and still doesn’t. He’s the only kid I know who will try anything once- food, amusement park rides or a board game. He shrugs and always says, Sure.
Which comes out more as “Shore.”
He was a developmental puzzle every step of the way, as if to say, Hey, I know I’m your third but you better be paying attention. He crawled late and walked early. His first word wasn’t Mama or Dada, it was Brother. He had back to back, or more realistically, one yearlong ear infection where he never spiked a fever or lost his balance. I’d catch him tugging on his ears a little and drag him to the doctor.
It was always at least a single, if not a double, fluid filled mess.
He’d be sitting there, smiling.
He’d race up to the number of words he should have by a certain age then stop. Completely. Just when I’d start to get concerned, he’d pull few more out of nowhere.
He can play alone for hours, and can make a friend on the playground in thirty seconds. He is so charming with adults- and the camera- no one can even begin to imagine how naughty he can be- except his parents.
Even then, he charms us, too.
He was nervous this morning and had come down to sit with me while it was still dark. He didn’t say a word, just crawled into my lap and put his head on my shoulder. He’s not my little baby anymore. Finally, he asked me when we were going to the hospital.
I told him I thought I’d just get a sharp stick and poke him, get some blood myself.
He thought that was very funny.
After I picked him up from school- early, so it was a treat along with the promised chocolate chip cookies we'd make together- I watched him in the rearview mirror. He always sits, face pressed against the glass. This kid, who can laugh and run and fly with the best of them, can be so quiet sometimes. Watching. Taking it in.
I thought about all the things I’d been struggling with lately, the images in my head from years past, the rage from being hurt so young so often, and it all seemed pointless. It didn’t matter.
None of it. Not really.
It was like peeling protective plastic off a new windowpane. Suddenly, the images had sharp edges and real light. It felt… calm.
Jake will be fine. I’m sure it will be one more way in which he is just a little bit different from the norm, and completely normal for him.
And so will I.