I look at moments that changed my future and I wish I’d known that everything will be fine.
“Something’s wrong,” she whispered. It was 2am. I pulled my pillow closer to my ear; adjusted another over my eyes – but not my nose – because a pillow nest needs to be just so. I drifted, soclose to sleep. I heard it again.
“Something’s wrong,” she said. I sat up, and I knew. I knew something was wrong. I’d known for a while but did not have the words for it. I didn’t know what it was, or if it was even anything. I only knew that my little boy should have been talking.
“Shhh,” I told her. “I need to sleep. Plus, he’s probably fine. He said buh-bye just last week. He waved.”
“Has he said it again?” she asked. “Well…” I thought.
“Something’s wrong,” she said.
Years ago, I had a different life in a different house with a different husband. One day, our pregnancy test showed a happy yes line, and we celebrated. Another, my nurse left the room to get the doctor, and we grieved. A few more days, and the walls to the house had For Sale written on them, and we sat on the carpet and divided our CD collection. It felt like the world was broken, but it was only us. I wish I’d known that I’d find new walls. New life.
“He’s not talking,” I said to the pediatrician. My little boy was two, and I was pretty sure that The Voice – the one that whispered at 2am months ago was right. “What’s he saying?” the doctor asked. “Well, he did say ‘truck fell down’ last week,” I said. “But not much else. He says ‘wa’ for water and ‘ha’ for helicopter and sometimes I can’t tell the difference.” I laughed.
“That’s a pretty good sentence for two years,” she said. “Let’s see how it goes.”
I listened to her, and wished I hadn’t. Six months later, we were in the same place, and then calling Early Intervention and speech therapists who didn’t try to get him to speak, but only to pay attention for 30 seconds at a time. Turns out, speaking comes after paying attention for 30 seconds.
I wish I’d known that we’ll be fine. That by the time he’s six, my son’ll be talking about Plants vs. Zombies to the point of my eye-rolling. I wish I’d known that we’d understand almost all of his words. That he’d be saying “water” now.
I only recently learned that guinea pigs are supposed to squeal. “Maybe ours is deaf,” I think, and on Tuesday, I sat at the kitchen table and played YouTube videos of guinea pigs squealing to see whether our new pet would react. She did, although she’s still not yet speaking.
I remember the day I wondered whether my son was deaf. I turned off the volume to Caillou (aka the kid who sucks), and clapped my hands behind him. He didn’t move. I sat on the floor, hugged my knees, touched my forehead to them, and started crying. It feels like I stayed that way for a long time, but it was probably only minutes before my little boy tapped me, and pointed at the tv.
“Do you want the sound back on?” I asked. He did, and I held him for as long as he let me. We went on a walk, and the sun seemed kinder. I wish I’d have known.
In sixth grade, I had the worst teacher. One day, she caught me with a note from a boy named Darren. Darren didn’t actually exist. I’d written the note to myself.
The boy in my class I’d been hoping would ask me to go with him ended up liking my friend Jenny instead. The worst teacher called me to the front of the class and told me to give her the note.
“I take responsibility for writing notes in class and know that’s bad,” I said. “But it’s private.” I ripped it up and threw it away.
During recess, I had to go into her office. She’d retrieved the note, and taped it back together. She’d read it.
“Let’s talk about the fact that you’re adopted,” she said.
“What does that have to do with the note?” I asked, already angry at myself for crying.
My dad tried to get her fired. I’m not sure what happened to her but that day, I wanted to be invisible forever.
I wish I’d known that my dad would take my side and that she was wrong to talk to me about adoption. I wish I’d have known that I’d find better people to love than Kenny and that one day, boys would write me notes on their own.
“Let’s play thumb puppy!” my son said last night. The only light in the room came from his nightlight, and we were lying in bed, covers up to our necks, snuggled in. “Okay,” I said, and made a fist with my hand, thumb sticking out, wagging.
“Fetch!” his finger human demanded. Thumb puppy fetched. “Now fart,” finger human said while the little boy attached to him was trying hard to suppress his giggles. Thumb puppy farted loudly, and finger human pet him, and put him in time out because that is what finger humans and thumb puppies do.
I wish I’d have known how much joy pretending that my fist is a thumb-wagging puppy would bring me and my son.
Over the years, I wish I’d have known that everything will be fine. That it has been, all along.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s prompt is “I wish I’d known…” My co-host this week is the lovely and fabulous Kenya, who has a NEW BOOK out. Special thanks to Jill who thought of this week’s sentence but is unable to participate because she’s like busy or whatever.