My son gets frustrated daily with his struggle to do certain things. Simple tasks like opening a bag of chips, walking long or even short distances, or writing with a pen are more difficult for my son. Not only does he deal with not being able to do some things like other kids his age, but he is also reminded of it constantly by a holyfuckshecarestoomuchjustlikeherdadshewillneedagoodtherapist sister attempting to help with the mundane when my son just wants to do shit himself. It scares me to think about the world he sees through his eyes.
My son has cerebral palsy and though I wish he had an ‘easier’ life like the kids he sees running past him, he is perfect. I won’t say that I wouldn’t have it any other way, fuck that. It fucking sucks. My son will tell you about how there is a part of his brain that doesn’t work right and he hates his brain because of it. We have discussed how my brain doesn’t work right either. It is just different. His understanding is that my brain messes up my feelings but I get to hide my disability from everyone. Ask him what he does every day and he would tell you, “I work hard every mother fucking day!” (Sorry…I let my son listen to rap) Yep, life is going to be harder, so how about we fuck some shit up along the way?
I came home today and my wife told me that he said he wished he was dead while holding a plastic toy gun to his head. He said he was horrible. He couldn’t take it anymore. He is nine.
When she told me what he said and how he acted my heart sunk. How can he feel that bad? Where did he learn that? [Mattel] No! I’m allowed to feel like that but not my son, right? It hit me like a ton of bricks. No one is too young to talk about mental health. I knew I had to say something to him, but who the fuck am I to tell anyone to value themselves or stop negative self-talk? I haven’t even figured that out. Fuck, I spiral daily and some days I make it all the way to lunch!
I called my son to come into the garage where I have my desk and work. As he carefully walked down the steps into the garage he said, “Boys Talk!”, closing the door on his sister and mother. “What’s up, dad?”
“Dude, what is up with this ‘I want to die’ stuff?”
He looked down, not wanting to meet eyes, realizing that he got tricked into talking about something he didn’t want to talk about. As he looked up he realized I was sobbing. I COULD NOT HOLD IT IN. I just hugged the fuck out of him.
“Remember when we talked about how my brain doesn’t work correctly sometimes? Well, mine makes me want to kill myself sometimes.”
“I’m sorry dad! I’ll stop! Please! Sorry!” (He did not like seeing me cry like that.) The little fuck was more concerned about me being ‘upset’ than his own wellbeing. Now we are both crying.
“And that is not okay. And I hate hearing that you said that. Plus, I have already seen you dead and I didn’t like it.” (Two days after being born he flatlined. Then he spent nearly a month on ECMO.) Again, all the while sobbing like a tween meeting Jordon Knight from the New Kids On The Block in the ’80s.
“I am so sorry dad!”
“Nah, man. No need to be sorry. I just couldn’t imagine life if I lost you.” I could barely talk. I just held him. And of course, my anxiety makes me question if I did or said the right thing. I probably didn’t say what I was ‘supposed’ to, and that is okay.
“I love you, buddy.”
“I love you too, dad.”
He got up to go back into the house but he stopped at the door. He stood there trying to compose himself before he walked into the room where mom and sister were. He is nine.
“Dude, you wanna help me with work?”
Through tears, he turned, nodded ‘yes’, and helped me finish up the day.
If I can do ANYTHING with my life, I hope I can spark a fire in my kids. Not because of my expectations for them but I just want them to be happy with themselves. I can’t control them, their thoughts, or who they become but I can demonstrate what living in this fog can be.
So to my best friend and his sister, my favorite daughter, I love you NO MATTER WHAT. I’ll always be there to help you out of shit or jump headfirst into it with you.