Today, Simon is about five feet tall, a fact I can attest to because, if I’m barefoot and he’s wearing flip flops, he can look me directly in the eye.
Today, Simon went to his second to last day of the 6th grade, an “early release” day that meant he got home at little after 12:15 instead of 3:30.
Today, Simon had a few massive meltdowns.
Now, I kind of expected that last one. The end of the school year and days on different schedules always make things harder on Simon. But today, he got off the bus happy and told me it was “good.”
It didn’t last.
The first meltdown happened when he realized that while today was his birthday, and while he was having a Chuck E Cheese birthday party on Sunday, we were not actually going to Chuck E Cheese today.
I tried all my usual bag of tricks to calm him down. Nothing helped.
I thought about a quote that I’d seen on Facebook earlier – the question of whether or not this was a hill worth dying on. Was this really the battle I wanted to fight? Was it worth it?
I was just going to go with it.
We went to see the rat. We even walked in while Chuck E Cheese was standing at the front, having just done his song and dance (literally), so Simon got to high five him.
Everything was right with the world again.
If Simon had been thinking it was a normal day, then he’d been home long enough that Dad should have been home waiting for us by then. Of course, it was early release, so it wasn’t even close to time.
Thus begun the half hour of full-lunged screaming and crying. Right into my ears. Right in my face.
We went through the weighted blanket. Singing. Tickling. Writing out what was going on. All the usual fixes. None lasted longer than one or two minutes.
Until I asked if he wanted to go outside on the swings and wait for Dad there.
Simon was semi-calmed down. Not super loud screaming anymore. But still lots of repetition. I’m not sure what the neighbors thought of my obvious inability to produce Dad on demand, but after a while, he enjoyed the swing set enough to calm down. Mostly.
And once Dad got home, things definitely calmed down.
Now, I’m not trying to make this sound like it was a horrible, no good, awful day.
Simon had a great time a Chuck E Cheese. He picked out Dora the Explorer cupcakes that he wanted to share with our friends’ kids. He opened presents, including a last-minute emergency gift (long story, possibly coming later) of a ukulele, two “magic pen” books, and two super soft, heavy stars that are meant as sensory toys. He loved the gifts, and laid on the floor with the stars on his back while he colored in one of the books. It was a good day, in the end, with just a rough patch in the afternoon.
But what a rough patch.
My head still hurts.
So maybe don’t think it was a bad day. But I do still have a headache from all the screaming, and I wouldn’t say no to a Starbucks card or two. 🙂
First, he’s going to be 13. Thirteen. A teenager. Oh dear god.
Second, we like to give him a good party because he likes it. While he doesn’t always seem to “get” birthdays (he will still tell you he’s 10 when you ask him how old he is), he likes to get presents. So planning a party – and setting up a quick Amazon wish list for him – is something that’s good to get done in advance.
Third, and final, he asked.
That’s the weirdest – and most important – part of it. Simon often starts focusing on the future, but it’s normally not a good kind of focus. It winds up being more like an obsession. He repeats it, he lets it upset him, he can’t let it go.
But in this case, he brought it up, saying that he wanted his birthday party. I asked him where he wanted it, and he told me, “Chuck E Cheese.” Because, as he has learned from all the commercials, Chuck E Cheese is where a kid can be a kid. So he loves going there, even if he doesn’t actually play most of the games. He much prefers to run in circles, see Chuck E when he comes out, and choose a prize.
Ah, prizes. When Simons hit the prize counter, we normally have anywhere from 500 to 1,500 tickets. Sometimes even more. Why? Because we will play the games and win the tickets (hey, it’s fun!), but then Simon looks at the prizes and picks something that costs 20 tickets, like a small orange spider. Then all those tickets roll over. Every once in a while, he picks something big, like a ball (anywhere from 200 to 1,000 tickets) or even a slinky (60 to 500 points).
Back to the topic at hand, though.
Simon asked for the party, and while he wanted to go to Chuck E Cheese since then, he hasn’t focused on it just being for a party. He hasn’t decided that he needs a party now now now.
That’s success for us. And him.
So we’ll be planning the party, and I’ll be setting up his Amazon wish list, and we’ll see (some of) you in June!
Last week was Simon’s 12th birthday. He asked for a party at Chuck E Cheese, and he got it. Sure, his idea of a party is different than ours; all he wanted was some candles to blow out and some presents. He didn’t really want to play any of the games, and he pretty much ignored most of the guests. But he still enjoyed it. Even if, on one level, I didn’t.
Why didn’t I?
Because I knew that our families had blown him off. On one side, he didn’t even get a phone call or a card. On the other side, he got a card with a gift card in it…but it wasn’t even mailed until his birthday. To me, it’s horrible. It’s painful. How can they ignore him? How can they not even send an email when I mail them pictures of him in a little league uniform?
But here’s the thing: Simon’s sky is still blue.
What do I mean by that?
I started reading a book called “Headspace.” It’s an awesome book, if you haven’t read it yourself. At one point, the author talks about when he was in training to be a Buddhist monk. (He spent about 10 years training.) He had a problem with meditation, and one of the teachers told him a secret. Even when the sky is grey, when the clouds are dark, when a storm is brewing, there is still a blue sky above all of that. No matter what problems there are, there is still a sense of peace hovering, a blue sky we can tap into and know that everything is still good.
Simon is in the blue sky. He doesn’t know that I feel like the sky is grey, that I feel like there is a storm brewing. He doesn’t have expectations from these family members. He doesn’t get bothered. His sky is blue.
I thought about the blue sky when I read the news that broke on his birthday, too. A local town, Lake Jackson, had an issue in their school district. The teachers in the 5th grade class apparently offered “awards” to their special needs students. Awards like “Most Gullible” and “Drama King.” Horribly mean-spirited and something that should never happen.
When I read it, I thought that Simon would still have his blue sky in that situation, too. Even if we, as his parents, were upset, he wouldn’t be. He wouldn’t get the insults. He’d be happy.
But those people – the ones who wanted to give the awards, the teachers who thought it was okay – they’re the ones who would, in the end, suffer for their actions because of karma. Because they may not realize it, what’s they’re doing is teaching children that it’s okay to mock and tease people who don’t have the ability or knowledge to fight back or protect themselves. These children will someone be the caretakers of these adults. What if the adults have a stroke or get Alzheimer’s? And then these children – the ones who were taught it was okay to mock the defenseless – are now defenseless themselves? Maybe they don’t realize the impact of their actions, what it may lead to in the future.
Now, to be fair, I do feel it’s straight out wrong to mock or tease cruelly at all, these teachers don’t seem to feel that way, and perhaps the only way they can learn to be a good person is by thinking about how their actions will impact their own lives. Sad that they can’t be kind to people for the sake of kindness, but at the very least, you’d think they would be kind for their own sake.
Those teachers – they’re the storm. They’re the grey skies. They’re what bring us down, what make us worry, what upset us. But we have to remember that there are still blue skies up above them. That we can tap into that blue sky and stick with the positive. Because we can all be in the blue sky if we want to be.