Wednesday, July 27, 2011

a day in the life (16)

Parents of special-needs kids have all sort of unique (and often seemingly bizarre) things that have to be accommodated for; sensitivity to hot, cold, loud noises, inappropriate behavior, etc. Here's a story about one of Calvin's (and thus ours) challenges. This is not a complaint, just a window for you to see into.

Grocery shopping.

It's what was on my to-do list after supper. Darryl headed out the door with free tickets to a Whitecaps game (thanks, Dad!) and Sophie and cousin Elijah in tow.

Feet pounded out the door, car doors slammed and we were left in the quiet house. Noah, Evie, Calvin, me. Oh yeah, there were messy counters and a long grocery list full of items needed before dinner. Now it was after dinner. Overdue.

I weighed my options. It's not that taking kids to the grocery store is bad, nope, I like that part. It's the car ride that I dreaded.  All week Calvin had been having a hard time controlling his startle reflex, making it hard to go anywhere in the car.

We piled in. Surely he would be fine, Meijers was only two miles away anyhow. Evie piled in back to her seat and I appointed Noah to be "the guard" on the ride over. The guard's responsibilities are this: sit in the seat opposite of Calvin and watch for his hands to fly out. If they fly out quickly grab his arms and bring them into the center. Talk to him and try to get him out of the startle position. Easy, right?

We were nearly at the main intersection and it started. Piercing shrieks that made my stomach lurch. Stronger than usual and out of control.

We were used to this routine. "Noah, grab his hands!" It was no use. His responses had been getting continually worse throughout the week. Today they were at his worst. I frantically looked for a place to pull over. There was no place. I turned to see Calvin turning blue (crying hard makes his airway collapse) with his legs and arms up in the startle position, stiff as iron. Noah stood in front of him desperately trying to stop it but our usual solution wasn't working this time.

The distressing shrieks continued to fill the van. It was frightening. It was no wonder that I saw little Noah's eyes begin to flood and then his body begin to shake. Soon his wails were matching Calvin's. Fear does that to you when you're scared for your little brother.

I stopped right there. Hazards on. In no time I whipped Calvin out the door and into my arms. Slowly he came around and his body relaxed slightly. There we sat in the middle of moving traffic, boy on my lap, and me not sure what to do.

So I did what I'd do in Cambodia. I put the tyke on my lap and we drove the rest of the way together, up there in the driver's seat. No doubt the people that pulled up next to me thought I was some sort of irresponsible mother. But little did they know (and little do we know about the people we quickly pass judgments on).

We made it safely and I added do not take Calvin to grocery store again by myself to my mental checklist.

I could see Noah wiping away tears in his seat. "It's not your fault, Noah. You did a very good job." His perplexed face met mine, "Whose fault is it? Why does he scream like that?" I sighed, "It's nobody's fault honey. It's his brain sending all the wrong messages to his body. You're a good brother to him."

We got out to conquer the next hurdles, namely, shopping without choking, vomiting, or startling, shopping with baby in my arms and two kids in tow, and actually getting all the items I needed.


And then we had to survive the ride home again. It's just another day in the life.


Rachel said...

Kara, thank you for sharing this. This is so eye opening about "a day in the life", and also the judgments that we pass on others. It has convicted me. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Rachel said exactly what my heart was saying while reading your blog.
Thank you Kara ! We can all learn so much from "a day in the life"

Anonymous said...

Once again you blessed me....thank-you for being vulnerable and sharing! Hats off to your fine son Noah! What a brave boy...very few his age are blessed to serve as God has called him to. He is learning compassion by being the hands and feet for his brother. This post brought me to my knees again for your family!
Sue K.
Chilliwack, BC

Anonymous said...

Kara, you are an amazing mom. Greg and I often brought a phrase about you ' How does kara do that with 4 kids?" We just have one and seem to have enough challenges each day.

Miss and love u