Tag Archives: Childhood

Often the simplest of things bring the most happiness…

In Paulo Coelho’s book, The Alchemist, he writes, “The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”  I truly believe that, well, I have believed that for the past nine years.  My little boy, Joey, just celebrated his ninth birthday and he is among the wisest I know.  You see, Joey just discovered pinwheels.  Yes, pinwheels.  A rather simple toy by today’s standards. It’s certainly nothing fancy, as it is often made of just paper or plastic curls, attached at its axle to a stick by a pin.  It doesn’t require batteries and it can’t even be plugged in.  In fact, to get it to do anything requires a summer breeze or it must be blown upon by a person.  But to my little guy, it was pure magic.

This latest discovery of Joey’s happened by chance, as do most unexpectedJoey Discovers Pinwheels things.  There was a pinwheel in the doctor’s office and out of sheer boredom, I picked it up and began spinning it for Joey.  The look on his face when he saw all those bright colors spinning around was one of the most precious expressions I have ever seen.  Many of us have had the distinct pleasure of experiencing something through the eyes of a child, but when your child is disabled and all of the sudden he finds immense joy in a toy or a song or anything for that matter, well, it makes you stop whatever it is you’re doing and take notice.  I can tell immediately if something is going to really hold Joey’s attention or if it is just going to be a momentary infatuation.  After 45 minutes of spinning that pinwheel for Joey, I knew his love affair with pinwheels had begun.  As we sat in the doctor’s office waiting, I watched Joey look with wonder and then smile so brightly at this toy.  Who knew a toy, that  can be traced back to the late 1800’s, would bring such happiness to a little boy, 140 years later.  Joey cannot walk, talk, sit or stand, but he could reach for that pinwheel and smile and coo as it spun around and around.  So you see, it’s true, the simple things in life are very often the most extraordinary things, at least, in our family they are.  I’m in constant wonder and amazement at what my little boy teaches me every day.  All children, regardless of their abilities, have a sense of wonder and awe that we tend to lose as adults.  I’m so blessed that I get to relive my childhood through my son.

As I sat in the doctor’s office waiting – and spinning the pinwheel – I immediately began planning how to incorporate Joey’s new found love of pinwheels into his everyday life.  I tend to be like a bull in a china shop with my ideas and projects.  Once I get a notion or thought in my head, watch out – because I will do whatever it takes to make it happen, especially if it involves my little guy.  It’s my best and worst trait.  Ok, it’s one of my best and worst traits, but that’s another story for another day.  There are a handful of things I’m passionate about, first and foremost, my children.  After that, gardening.  PinwheelsSo it didn’t take long to come up with a plan that would combine pinwheels and petunias.  Right there in the doctor’s office on that tissue paper they use to cover the examining table, I actually sketched a garden that would be filled with pinwheels and flowers – complete with a path for Joey’s wheelchair.  I could feel the adrenaline – yes, I was that excited.  If you aren’t the parent of a child with special needs, you will not understand what it’s like to stumble across something that your child loves.  Joey cannot tell me, “mommy, I really love (fill in the blank) can we go do/buy/see that”.  I have to rely on trial and error.  I have to hope and pray for those moments, like the one last week, where we discover pinwheels completely by accident.  And when that discovery happens, you will do everything you can to encourage it, to repeat it, to make it a part of your child’s life.  At least, I do.

This new garden already has a name, “Il Giardino dei Girandoli di Giuseppe“.  My next step is to get pinwheels that are weather proof to be placed in the garden.  I’m going to ask friends and family to help make this happen as I feel it will add sentiment to the garden and make it special.  I truly feel like a child on Christmas morning right now, I cannot wait to begin this latest project and then watch Joey’s face when he sees it for the first time. So yes, while having a child with special needs can be exhausting, frustrating and heart breaking it can also be inspiring, magical and breath taking.

I’m learning that not much about life is perfect.  There is no such thing as perfect kids, we don’t come from or have perfect families or perfect partners, perfect jobs rarely exist, but every once in awhile, we do get a perfect moment.  I think maybe the trick is to recognize this and to not only hold on to the memory of that perfect moment, but perhaps we need to try and figure out how to make more of them.  God willing, that’s what I’m going to do.

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“And I learned what is obvious to a child. That life is simply a collection of little lives, each lived one day at a time. That each day should be spent finding beauty in flowers and poetry and talking to animals. That a day spent with dreaming and sunsets and refreshing breezes cannot be bettered.”

~Nicholas Sparks

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A Prom, A Puppy & Precipitation

Sometimes when I’m first waking up in the morning, still lying in bed and hoping that by some mysterious act of a power bigger than all of us, the coffee will be ready and waiting for me, I wonder what could happen during the course of my day that would be exciting enough to write about.  I really need to stop doing that.

Last weekend was the final prom of my daughter’s high school years.  It was bittersweet for me.  I’m very excited for her as she embarks on a new chapter in her life – the college years, but I’m a little melancholy as this also marks the end of her ‘childhood’ so to speak.  We have the rest of our lives to be adults, 72178_10201186174920798_2117353952_nbut the innocence, magic and freedom of childhood are gone much too quickly.  Gionna’s was taken from her earlier than most.  My daughter had to grow up rather quickly once her little brother came into the world.  If you’ve read my previous posts, than you are familiar with Joey and his disabilities.  Gionna & Joey share a very close and special bond, but he requires around the clock care and there were many times during the past eight years that her wants were put on hold.  When domestic abuse reared its ugly head, that robbed her of the trust and never worrying about a thing that we seem to do as children.  All she has endured and experienced has made her into the amazing young lady she is today – and I couldn’t be more proud of her.  She is strong, opinionated, a little sassy and doesn’t take shit from anybody.  For better or for worse, she is just like her mama.  God help us all.

When her prom date arrived, I went into Gionna’s room to check on her and she looked absolutely stunning.  I was speechless.  And then she did something that I will never forget – she took my hand in hers and wanted me to walk her out into the living room where everyone was waiting.  Gionna held my hand so tight – I can’t remember her doing that since she was a little girl and I was walking her into kindergarten. I thought my heart would burst – I was still ‘mommy’ and she still needed me.  There are moments in our lives as parents that we always remember, not just the typical milestones, but the moments that seem to happen when we least expect it – the ones where time almost stands still, allowing us to take it all in, to commit it to memory because there is no promise that the moment we are experiencing will ever happen again.  If we’re fortunate, each of us has stored in our memory moments like that, the ones where we can recall every tiny detail, the ones we hold close until we take our last breath.

Last week, a local animal shelter announced that it would be closing for two weeks for renovations and they had over fifty dogs that would need temporary homes.  I’m not sure what possessed me to volunteer to foster a puppy, seeing how my life is chaotic at best and a hot mess at worst, but I made the phone call to the shelter and told them we would love to welcome a four-legged bundle of fur into our home.  We were told that we would be given a 20 pound brindle terrier mix.  She didn’t have a Whiskeyname and as soon as we picked her up, Gionna immediately named her ‘Whiskey’.  We’ve had Whiskey for almost two weeks and its been eventful to say the least.  First, there is her new moniker.  I’ve already received a few quizzical glances when I’m outside shouting at 6:00 a.m., “Whiskey, where are you – mommy misses you“.   The latest member of our family is a bundle of energy and our other dog, a beautiful lab mix named Rocco, is less than pleased that we have brought this tiny tornado of a terrier into our home.  Whiskey is playful to the point of possibly being the poster puppy for ADHD.  She has two speeds, fast and faster.  Add to this, I’ve had to crate train her – I won’t even begin to discuss that adventure.  Right now, we’re not sure if we are going to keep her.  I am getting quite attached to her though and I love her spirit and curiosity – but Rocco still hasn’t warmed up to her – and he was here first.

So that brings us to today.  I’ve been up since 3:00 a.m. with my little guy.  We are under a tornado watch and when the barometric pressure changes, Joey’s seizures often increase. When that happens, his intestines become a mess – use your imagination because I promise you, you don’t want me to write about  what his bowels have done today.  I’ll say this, he’s had to have two baths and he is now wearing his fourth change of clothes. The storm is now just a couple of hours away and as odd as it may sound, it can’t get here fast enough for me.  Once the storm arrives, Joey’s seizures will end.  I know how strange it must sound that I’m wishing for a possible tornado to arrive, but until you watch your child suffer through seizures and intestinal issues, you wouldn’t Tornadounderstand.  Since I’m not originally from the South, I don’t become as paranoid as the natives do when an impending tornado is in the forecast, but I am a little worried about this one.  It’s made quite an impact so far in Missouri and Mississippi and all we can do is wait and see if it’s going to unleash its fury here.  I had to giggle when a local meteorologist referred to this as ‘a weather event that could bring possible precipitation’.  Unless he’s planning on selling tickets and beer and this tornado is taking place on a stage, this isn’t an event.   Another meteorologist is calling this a ‘weather situation’ that ‘may bring precipitation’.  Guys, it’s a damn big storm that is probably going to cause some terrible damage.  Once that happens, then there will be a ‘situation’ and we can then discuss how to help those in need.  Maybe we could organize an event to do this.  And really – possible precipitation?  My degree isn’t in meteorology, but when I glanced at the Doppler Radar a few minutes ago, it was all green, which translates into rain.  My favorite forecast comes from Dr. Seuss and it is accurate 100% of the time:

“The storm starts, when the drops start dropping.  When the drops stop dropping then the storm starts stopping.”   ~Dr. Seuss

So now we wait.  Our ‘safe place’ is all ready for us should we need to take cover and for the moment, Joey is calm and watching television.  Ironically, he’s watching the Weather Channel.  It’s his favorite thing to see when we are under any type of severe weather warning.  He absolutely loves the colors of the radar.  In a twisted sort of way it’s a little comical that one thing that is causing his seizures to increase is also what he enjoys watching.  Our family is anything but typical so to me, it makes perfect sense.  And again, it’s all about the moments anyway – and now at this very moment, he’s happy.

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