It’s not that I remember most of the St. Patrick’s Days that I’ve celebrated. I remember my friend and I sitting at Bennigan’s, annoyed with the drunks, not drunk enough ourselves to find them amusing or cheerful, green beer aside. I remember that the waitress forgot about us and that we left without paying after trying to pay for much too long.
Tonight though, I’m remembering the St. Patrick’s Day that didn’t happen, three years ago. That was the year when Tucker was two-and-a-half, and we’d gotten the paperwork for Early Intervention Evaluations two months prior. We’d had meetings, a hearing test, and an evaluation that sucked.
Whether I see my little boy – who is laughter and light – more fully when others are watching, or whether he is at his complete worst because he knows it counts, I don’t know. I do know that his evaluation was awful. He couldn’t or wouldn’t make a train using the blocks like they did, he hid under a chair, and he spent 15 minutes focusing on a black spot stuck to the dusty tan mini-blinds covering a dingy window that provided a view of a parking lot.
That was the day that we heard the words uttered with less kindness than I needed and more than was probably the norm, “I’m going to say it now – it’s NOT just a speech delay.” I felt angry, because didn’t they see how incredible my little boy is? What about all of the things that he CAN do, after all?
But early intervention and special needs evaluations are not about what the kids CAN do – they’re about what they’re NOT doing. They’re about the things that their peers are doing and they’re about taking steps to figure out what to do to help them and to further grow them and to study a particular child’s needs before making recommendations on meeting them.
They’re also about fear and worry and heartbreak and hope because no matter who you are, sitting in a room while you find out whether your child is deaf or not is hard. Sitting in a room when he will not or cannot make a tiny train using six blocks the way that he’s “supposed to” is life changing.
Realizing that he’ll never catch up is scary and realizing that it doesn’t truly matter whether he does or not is freeing. All of it scary and freeing and also just life and just us and just Just.
By St. Patrick’s Day that year, we had begun speech therapy that wasn’t even speech therapy. It was having our son sit in his high chair and focus on something for 30 seconds. 30 horrible forever seconds because all he had to do was point to Daddy’s ear.
I do not know whether that day was the week before, of, or after St. Patrick’s Day that year, but I do remember that when the holiday came, I felt surprise. It was, I guess, a reminder that people were planning and talking about drinking green beer, and celebrating on what was most likely a weeknight because that always makes those holidays more fun.
I remember thinking that it wasn’t that long ago and that it was a lifetime ago that I, too, would have had several phone calls and wardrobe changes and plans and the stress of trying to please everybody because one group of friends wanted to meet at a house party and the other, a bar. Wanting to do it all, as always, and that year, wanting to do none of it, consumed with worrying about my little boy.
Wondering what this would mean for all of us.
Feeling guilty and helpless and hopeless but full of hope and promise because no matter what This Ended Up Being – his what is wrong and what is delayed thing – it was still also simply our life and the same little boy that carries my heart and my future. The same little boy who is Light.
So when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, this year, I’ll celebrate by helping my now five-year-old make a leprechaun trap, per his kindergarten’s project. I’ll fondly remember green beer as festive and as party but I’ll also know that green beer is just beer with food coloring. I’ll realize how far we’ve come and how far we still have and I’ll laugh with my little boy and his funny little leprechaun trap that may mean he’s still not following directions. I’ll know that he’s still behind and I’ll know that that’s okay. Whether we find the pot of gold under a rainbow this year, or spend the holiday wiping pee from the seat is irrelevant.
We do, however, wish you the happiest of St. Patrick’s Days next week.
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Lisa from The Meaning of Me
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