Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mom, People Think I'm Stupid

"Mom, people think I'm stupid." Garrett tells me as I tuck him into bed tonight.

"No, Garrett, no one thinks you are stupid." I quickly reply.

And he insists, "Yes, they think I am stupid."

"NO THEY DON'T, Garrett. No one thinks you are stupid!"

"They don't?"

"No, Garrett, they don't."

Uuuuhhhhhhh........and I kissed him goodnight and wanted to crawl under his bed and cry and just stay by his precious side and protect him from any assault from any angle in any way. Let me face it, Dear Lord, that someday I am going to see someone make fun of him, and maybe even call him hurtful things, but gosh I have some preparing to do. I do not think anyone has said he is his face....yet. But to hear him say these words tonight..... makes me wonder what's coming.

Many, many times in my life I can point to things that have happened to me or around me, and those things have molded me and prepared me for certain situations. Case in point, my mother has a cousin, Chip, who has been disabled since birth, but only physically at first. After surgery as an infant to repair his spine, he was left with additional disabilities, including mental disabilities. Once his parents died and his adult caregiver was unable to care for him due to her health issues and age, Chip moved from New York down to Alabama to be close to his uncle, my mom's father. Then upon my grandfather's death, my mom became his caregiver. While Chip lived in a nursing home once he moved to Alabama, my mom took him out every Wednesday evening to dinner and to the bookstore, one of his favorite places. And the years I lived at hime with my parents and then as often as I was home from college, I was blessed to tag along. Then we visited every Sunday and additional days of the week as we could. Chip was in a wheelchair. He had an enlarged head, an eye that pulled to one side, this FABULOUSLY almost white, grey hair, and a sense of humor that was worth a million!!! But he had his moments, challenges, and mental meltdowns that rival some of Garrett's! I was always so proud to push Chip's wheelchair, operate his van's wheelchair lift, help as I could. I almost dared people to stare, whisper, comment even to the person walking beside them. It was like I grew up facing the issues I fear, and had no earthly idea at that time, that it wasn't just about Chip and his care and our love for him, but it was about my future. Chip has since passed away, but wow, did he change my life in so many wonderful ways. And sometimes I sense he is right here with me, adoring me as he always did and encouraging me to do the RIGHT thing.

And that's my heart tonight. It is very heavy. Garrett will be 7 years old this summer. The behaviors that were fine when he looked like a toddler are no longer looking acceptable as he is now tall and obviously older. He does get more looks. People notice. And while most people are kind to him/us, there will be those tough times when those few cold, cruel, heartless, maybe just really hurt, people lash out or make fun of him. So while I am not ready for this chapter, the book continues to be written, and I have no power to stop it.

So maybe tonight is the warm-up for my skin to thicken. And maybe it is also a reminder I need, and welcome, that I MUST be on Garrett's team.



  1. Clara-Leigh, I am SO sorry! :(
    I know that Tucker feels this way, too, but he does not have the ability to share his feelings like this.
    Our boys may not show it, but they know that they are not the same as the other kids, and that the other kids notice. Tucker has had very positive experiences with typical kids, but he will also have some very negative ones I am sure.

    I am always here for you,

  2. Garrett often tells me this. He says it so convincingly I ask him who said it. He says nobdy, but like you said, he feels it. It is his way of asking for reassurance and asking if you think it. It may come after a day where he has had a set back or someone was frustrated with him or possibly after he felt frustrated with himself. It is way of asking if you love him and if you are proud of him. It may be that he is telling you how he is feeling but not knowing the words to describe his actual emotions.
    Being a mom of any child is hard work. Being a mom of a special needs child is something that I have not experienced but working with Garrett gives me a very small peek into your daily life. You amaze me with your faith, love and understanding.