Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Wish

We recently celebrated my birthday at a Japanese Steak House. On our way to the table, we crossed over a pond via a cliche, but sweet, little bridge to get to our table. As we crossed, Tommy and Will both made it very clear that they were going to toss a coin into the pond on our way out and make a wish.

Dinner was pleasant and a welcome relief from the week we had just had at school. Tommy had had a knock out year up until now (October), and the proverbial other shoe had just dropped. He was refusing to go into class in the morning, sometimes sitting outside the classroom for up to an hour. Once he got into the classroom he was oppositional and unproductive. He was depressed and sometimes did not make it into school at all. He was generally unengaged - nothing appealed to him but Pokémon. His teachers were having a hard time coping, and we were doing our best at home to honor his state of mind, but to support him and encourage him to move on. We adjusted one of his meds - turned up the Wellbutrin - under the guidance of his Psychiatrist.

We tried to remain positive; I tried to stave off depression. We took what actions we could, just to try to stay positive and in control. Control is a hard one when you see your child's world spinning quite out of control. And then you start to wonder, how much does he actually want to be in control? Is he enjoying what's happening? Of course not, but why doesn't he seem to be trying? Doesn't he know how important this all is to me and to us as a family? The burdens of sadness and hopelessness battle to take precedence over my common sense and my awareness that things will pass. Of course everything will be okay again. This is cyclical. "Calm down," I tell myself.

After we finished our meal and headed to the door, Tommy and Will did not forget to remind us they were in need of to coins to toss into the pond. They had wishes to make, and they weren't leaving here until they were made! They closed their eyes tight, flipped the coins up into the air, and as they plopped into the pond, wishes were made. After we got into the car, my husband asked, "What'd ya wish for?"

"I'm not telling or it won't come true - but, if you want to buy me a new video game, you might make my wishes come true," Will said with a grin.

None of this surprised us. New games, new bikes, a snow day (even though we live in the desert and it is only mid-October) - those were things little boys' wishes were made of. In a quiet voice, we heard Tommy say something from the back seat, "I wished that I would have a good day at school tomorrow, so Mom will be happy for her birthday."

My eyes welled with tears for so many reasons. How incredibly self-aware this child is. No matter how many times he shows me this, it astounds me. How could I have doubted him? Nintendo, Schwinn, and the weather gods had no place in his wishes, as they did in Will's. All he wanted was to be back in the game, and all he wanted was to make me happy. How elated I was! At the same time, though, my heart was incredibly broken. I grieved for the loss of a little boy's wishes. The ones filled with games and bikes and snow days. How painful it was to think he had lost sight of those precious and childlike wishes. But, how necessary it is in order for him to survive his illness.

He did, in fact, have a good day at school the next day, and, it was, in fact, a wonderful birthday present. As my gift to him in return, I try not to doubt him; I try to keep the faith that he wants it just as much, or more, than I do. I'll remember that the next time I blow the candles out on my birthday cake.

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