How is Ian?

“That happened back when Daddy was still alive, so it was a long time ago.”
- Ian, this week

I love how kids live in the moment. They’re like dogs only with slightly less fur. 

I used to be asked every time I saw someone, “How is Rich?” Now that the question is no longer relevant, the new request is, “How is Ian?”

The status of Ian is a complex one, just like the status of most humans. He slept with me every night once Rich went into hospice. When Rich died, I dragged Ian’s twin mattress into the master bedroom so he could still see me and be near but I would stop getting elbowed in the head all night.

A week after Rich died, we moved the queen bed up into Ian’s room and gave the twin bed away. Ian spins himself in circles with at least one dog and cat each night in his own bed in his own room right down the hall. I set an alarm for 30 minutes before we have to get up and go to snuggle with him in the mornings. That has worked well for us both, whether at home or at Shrop’s house.

Ian was riding his bike to and from school since just before December. This worked out in that the house was always unlocked and there was at least one caregiver in the house for Ian. He largely managed himself but he didn’t get lonely. 

Once Rich and the caregivers were gone, I made sure I was home after school so that he wouldn’t be lonely. Work has been exceptionally understanding about my need to work from home after 3pm the last month. The house is significantly less hectic than it was before, and while that’s good, it’s unnervingly quiet as well. So Ian doesn’t like to be downstairs alone. We’re working through that. For now, he’s hanging out with my folks after school.

Ian has had trouble getting along with other kids the last month. He’s super sensitive to even the slightest perceived injustice or inconvenience and will cry victim, overreact, and stomp off. I reminded him that if he has a problem with literally six different children in the same day, maybe it’s not all these children being awful, maybe it’s just him being an asshole. 

He still sucks his thumb when he’s tired and takes a blankie to bed. He’s also added Charlie Bear to the mix for certain outings. I’m not bothered by any of this. He won’t suck his thumb forever and if he takes a blankie to college, I think he’ll still get laid provided he not choose the blankie over a potential bed partner. There are enough people in the world who will pick on him over stuff like that, I’m not going to be one of them.

He’s 4’8” tall and 108 lb. That’s huge. The pediatricians lecture me about excess sugar consumption and snacking. Both of the pediatricians in our practice are obese. Ian only drinks water, he has one 100 calorie dessert every four days or so, and he runs around during the day as much as the public school system will allow. He dug a gigantic hole in our yard with a full-sized shovel. The boy is active and strong. He’s also moon-faced and pot-bellied, just like his dad was at that age. What I’m determined about is he won’t have food and body image issues like his father had. 

He asked me last weekend why he doesn’t have a sister or brother. I told him that Daddy got too sick when we were about to make another baby and now Daddy is gone. He offered, “Well, maybe you and Shrop can make a baby.” I reminded him that a baby would take away from some of the attention I could give him, but he was adamant that he wants a sibling and he would gain another family member to snuggle if we got a baby up in this joint. Kids live in the moment. 

School is either good or the worst possible place I could force him to attend. It changes daily. He doesn’t like change, like a substitute teacher. And he is all about some fairness, or at least his version of what fairness is. 

He’s very concerned that people won’t love him anymore. We’re still working through that to find the root of the issue. I remind him that even when he’s being a jerk, I love him. I perhaps love him most when he’s being a jerk. Love is not the issue at stake. He just needs to be empathetic and patient with others. And we will be empathetic and patient with him. There’s a difference between being heard and getting your way. 

I hear echoes of my own anxiety in his worries. He sobbed about the potential of getting pinched on St. Patrick’s Day if he somehow lost the green clothing item he was already wearing. There are many “but what if” questions in rapid form over most potential social hazards. I know from experience those are hard voices to silence. 

He loves people and he wants to speak for himself. Some people aren’t always willing to listen. When I took him to the doctor about his cough, Ian asked me, “Why don’t you just wait out in the lobby? I can tell the doctor what’s wrong.” I agreed that he could speak for himself, but most doctors like to get confirmation from parents because we’ve had more experience. The doctor teased Ian for talking non-stop and I just rolled my eyes. He has to practice conversation if he’s going to get better at it. I know adults who can’t listen well versus just waiting impatiently for their turn to talk.

Overall, we’re good. Things are settling down, but there are spikes of upset that pop up here and there. 

Breakfast at Rooster's