All the small things that I see day to day are what balance the scales of caring for a child like Sam. The outbursts and screaming and hitting are just part of the other side of that scale. The negatives are so big they tend to overshadow the positives. When Sam hits his little brother or spits on his older brothers, the reaction inflates the impression of the behavior into much more than what it is. It’s a behavior stemming from stimulation within Sam by an outside force none of us even have on our radar. We handle it and move on. Every day we need to intervene on behalf of Sam rather than because of him. Day after day, over and over, the strength of mind, body, and will are challenged and drained from us. He his getting so big it isn’t easy picking up his “dead weight” off the floor. There I go again focusing on the negative. This is about the small things that are overshadowed by what we tend to focus on. So here is a sample of the small things that get overlooked.
The other night he asked if he could feed the dog. I said yes. I love to encourage anything that could give my boy a greater sense of self worth. “Go ahead and get the bowl” I said. Sam took the bowl into the pantry where the bag of dog food sat. Sam said “One cup, right?” “Yes Sam, the measuring cup is 1/3 cup so we need three scoops”. I held the bowl wile Sam dug into the kibble with the measuring cup in his left hand and very carefully ran his right hand across the top of the cup to make it perfectly level. What pride he took in counting out each accurately measured cup of dog food. He fed the dog he loves under the watchful eye of his father whom I hope he knows loves him with great depth. I couldn’t get the images of Sam leveling the scoops of dog food, out of my head. I still wonder is his methods and care were because he wanted his best friend Chance the dog to have exactly what he needs of if it was because he wanted my approval. Or maybe he just did it for Sam. Because in a life with so many struggles, he needs to feel like he can do it. We all know you can do it!
Bed time was met with more than usual resistance. After a consistent push to get him to brush his teeth, we had to get up the stairs. He pushed back against me with his feet on the next step up. With a small push against his back he leaned back farther and moved his feet up more steps. With his body almost horizontal, I continued to push on his back while he took one step at a time until we reached the top of the stairs. To get to his room he needed to go right. Sam went left, real fast. He busted into his older brother’s room and began to wreak havoc. Ushering him out of the room, he made another sharp turn into my room. The bed is not a trampoline, but one might think that it is with the number of jumps that have been pushed down into its wary springs. New plan, scoop up the boy and plant him in his bed and tuck him in. There he was motionless in his bed. The light from the hall illuminated a single path of floor, bed, and wall. “Dad, you read me a story”? I thought about all the chores and tasks to be done before I could get to bed. “No, not tonight Sam” His face was angry at first, but within seconds it crumpled into sadness and pain. “I hate you! You never play with me anymore!” This outburst was followed immediately by genuine sobs and tears. I thought about how I needed to put his younger brother in his bed because he fell asleep cuddling with his mom on the couch. The chores needed to be checked. The garbage needed to be taken out. I needed to make a lunch to take to work tomorrow. I wanted to mop the kitchen floor after everyone went to bed so there would be no traffic on it while it dried. But none of that mattered when I saw his pain. He was right. My attention was given to his mother, to two older siblings, two younger siblings, my job, the house, etc. What about Sam. Why hadn’t I spent any time on the floor with him playing Legos, or watch him play a video game, or take time to do more than just ask him how his day was. Asking about his day isn’t fun for him, there is no quality given to our relationship. My wife wants to know that I am interested in her day. It means something to her. I don’t think it means all that much to Sam. So I told him I would be right back. After I put his little brother in his bed, I invited Sam into my room to watch some funny videos on the computer before he had to go to sleep. We laughed and shared a great time. Only about ten minutes went by before I told him it was time to go to bed. “Okay Dad, that was so funny. I love you”.
It turns out that the small things are the biggest most important things of all.