Andy told me Jonah has a new aversion – to strands of hair. If a stray hair is on his shirt, he will pluck it off carefully, drop it (or hand it to you) and say “bye bye hair.” I love these little utterances, how he weaves what language he possesses, making bridges to the concepts he wants to express.
It usually becomes quickly apparent to us what he’s trying to get across. Sometimes I wonder if his whole aggression is frustration-based. He’s probably much smarter than his limited language might lead one to believe. So does this mean there is a short in one of the language-learning wires in his brain? That he’d like to tell us that what he loves and what he would like to do is something which has never even been offered to him? I have no idea, of course.
If Andy hadn’t informed me of this new Jonah tidbit, I have to admit I’d have been very confused when, on Saturday, Jonah handed me the drink I’d just poured him, announcing “bye bye hair.” Even with the knowledge I now own regarding Jonah’s newfound antipathy, the scene left me confused. Juice. Hair. No connection.
Helpless, I turned to Andy. “There’s probably a hair on the cup,” he said, and sure enough there was. Andy managed to slide the hair off where condensation had glued it to the side, and he handed the drink back to Boo.
I guess Jonah has been happy enough, swimming on the campus with surprising tolerance at having to wear a life vest (which prevents him from diving or swimming underwater – two of his favorite pool activities). He starts a 6-week summer school program on Tuesday, and then he’ll have a few weeks more of summer vacation before school starts again.
My mom chose to stay behind as Andy and Jonah and I drove to the “transfer station.” It is tiring to drive around more after you’ve just driven an hour and a half and you know you’ve got another hour and a half to travel home. Plus she wanted me to sign her into my Facebook account so she could see baby pictures of the newest member of our extended family. The computer is a foreign concept to her, and admittedly I have less patience with her than I should. “Just scroll down! Point and click on the name, ma. The name.” Of course she doesn’t know what scroll down means, let alone point and click, nor can she execute these pre-school level Internet commands. I left her after a very basic tutorial.
And what a God-awful hot day. Neither heat nor cold seems to bother Andy all that much (and bothers Jonah, seemingly, not at all). Andy didn’t even have his air conditioning window unit installed in the apartment; I have no idea how he sleeps in the humid, cicada-ridden, sticky air. And so the three of us got in the car and drove away with Andy’s boxes of recyclables, Jonah happy and calm, requesting “music on?” and rocking his body back and forth to the likes of Jay Z and Rhianna.
And yes, he still has to wear the eye shield. By now he may be almost resigned to its presence. He’s got an appointment with the glaucoma doctor on Tuesday, so hopefully we’ll know more then about how much sight, if any, he’s got remaining in his left eye.
Seemingly happy kid…
…but deceptively so, because on our return ride back to the apartment, we are just riding along when I am suddenly in pain, slammed against the back of the seat like some Mafia move where the backseat passenger quickly throws a cord over his victim’s head and pulls back hard: execution by strangulation. But I’m not being strangled; Jonah has grabbed a chunk of my hair and is yanking it hard. “Ah! Ah!” I yell. Andy always tells me to say “pull over” if something like this happens but I almost never do/can. It’s all spontaneous and uncontrollable, whether I shout “Ow!” or simply “Andy!!!!!”
I press into the back of the seat, my head firmly against the rest (he’s gotten me from the space between the headrest and the seat). I manage to work my arm above my head to press the hair against my scalp, since there are a few inches between his grasp on the hair and my head. It takes the usual 2-3 minutes (though it feels much longer) for Andy to disengage Jonah’s tightly grasped fists from the chunk of my hair, and I immediately get out of the car, my hand still pressed against my head and half expecting it to come away with a whole long lock of my hair. Instead I got a bunch of tangled strands, and more strands were all over the car (and likely all over Jonah).
Bye-bye hair indeed.
When I got back in the car I pulled the seat as far forward as possible, leaning right on the dash. We made it to the apartment without further incident, though shortly thereafter mom and I decided to leave because he came after me again. This time I recoiled back quickly, told my son “bye, sweetheart,” and walked out the door.
My mother played one of her favorite CDs on the way back: John Williams conducts the Boston Pops with rousing renditions of such patriotic gems as “America the Beautiful” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” made surreal by the events of the scant time we’d just spent in Rhinebeck.
- “I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
- They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
- I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
- His day is marching on.”
- ~ Julia Ward Howe
Last night I called to see how Jonah’s day had been after Andy had brought him back to his residence. Usually Andy calls, but I took a turn. One of his caregivers told me he was calm and happy for the remainder of the day, having requested (and eaten) a grilled cheese sandwich and then showered and gone to sleep earlier than usual.
For some reason, after I hung up the phone I went deep into my head, calling forth these realities as though they were fresh and razor-sharp instead of the dulled, standard emotions they have come to elicit. For a few minutes, I was in anxiety-attack mode, feeling as though I’d just dropped him off at the school to live, unreal realizations hitting me in waves of panic and nausea. Someone else is telling me how my child was today. Someone else has prepared his food, guided his daily activities, put him to bed. Someone else. Other people, far away.
How did this come to be? How did I come to be okay with it? Is it just that I had no choice, lest I go mad?
I am glad the floodgates of my angst were dammed again soon, that my mind-storm did not last. I breathed my way slowly back to the commonplace lethargy of acceptance of our reality, and then I slipped further away – into the cushion of sleep.