Thursday, April 26, 2012

Upside down and feelin' alright

I wanted to write something here each day this week. But honestly, the world feels upside down at the moment and I have trouble finding the words. I am truly "filled with astonishment and perplexity," as the Thesaurus tells me. I am dumbfounded.

On Tuesday I had the following conversation with the boy (and by conversation, I mean that we wrote back and forth. No words are actually exchanged):

Me: Oliver, I think I found a piano instructor for you. You can start next week. Do you still want to learn to play?
Oliver: Yes!
Me: Is there any particular kind of music you would like to learn?
Oliver: Dobussey.
Me: Where did you hear that?!
Oliver: On the radio.
Me: Do you think it will be hard?
Oliver: Yes.
Me: Well, I think you are going to be a wonderful musician!
Oliver: Thank you.

So there are moments like this punctuating our day nearly every day. It seems difficult to believe that not very long ago I wasn't sure that Oliver knew his last name or how old he was. I wasn't all that certain that he even knew the alphabet. Oh sure, he could sing the alphabet song, but from one day to the next he couldn't seem to recall the names of letters or the sounds they made on the printed page.

Perhaps the most meaningful moments, though, are the ones that help me understand how to help him. Today, for instance, we had the following exchange:

Me: Oliver, why are you so upset?
Oliver: I'm mad.
Me. Why are you mad?
Oliver: I don't want to type anymore. It's hard!
Me: Do you think it will get easier with practice?
Oliver: Yes.
Me: So are you willing to practice again later?
Oliver: Yes.
Me: What do you want to do now?
Oliver: I want to read a book.
Me: With me or by yourself.
Oliver: By myself.

Of course, I probably could have figured out that Oliver was upset about the typing. He had worked hard and needed a break. But it felt so wonderful to be able to say something that directly, for sure, addressed what he was feeling: This typing thing is hard!!! And I could reassure him: Don't worry, it will get easier! In the past I might have made all kinds of assumptions about why he was upset and what would make him feel better: a snack, a walk, some other activity. But I had no way of knowing if I was even close to addressing the real issue. But now he can tell me: I just want to be left alone.

And here's another little bit to the story that I love -- He lied! He did not want to read a book. He just wanted to be alone and zone out on his bed but I'm assuming he thought that it would be more acceptable to me if he, you know, took a book with him! 

So, yes, the world feels pretty upside down at the moment. It's not all rosey. There are some bumps along the way. We've all got nine and a half years of learned behavior to consider and reconsider. But overall, I'd have to say that upside down feels pretty alright.


  1. A couple times recently I've noticed my son doing the same -- zoning out on his bed, if you will. And I don't know why it would surprise me, we all need that kind of down time, but I love that when I ask him about it he says, "I just need to relax." I'm so glad Oliver is able to tell you these things now, to express his heart. Keep writing... xxk

  2. A friend at work has a son who's 9. When he was still in utero he had surgery to remove a growth on his lung! It was amazing surgery and as you can imagine his first year was a big challenge. At the time I thought "every time I see Trey, for the rest of his life, I will be astounded." That's how I feel about Oliver.

  3. I can't tell you how excited I am that you're blogging again!