Friday, November 11, 2011

Bizarro Birthday

If there is one thing that defines my existence, and maybe always has, it is my difficulty with navigating through the complexity of my emotional states of mind. In fact, so hard do I find this task, that too often I choose not to do it, and I instead ignore my feelings, or suppress them, or disengage.

Or play SHITLOADS of X-Box 360 and blow off the things I need to do altogether! WOOHOO!'s that workin' out for ya?

This navigational difficulty has been a defining characteristic of my life, as many of you have read.

These feelings never stay submerged or repressed for long however. They always find a way to come out. Sometimes they will emerge as explosive bouts of anger and all mailboxes, everywhere, will cower in fear, or they will emerge as waterworks, with Yours Truly collapsing on the floor in uncontrollable sobs. I suppose it is the price I pay for not choosing to lead a more balanced emotional life.

I am writing about this because yesterday morning I realized that I had not cried for quite a while. Not really. Not since August, when I lost it over The iPad Incident. I have had some tears, mainly inspired during my most recent re-watching of the LOST TV show, but not outright, full-tilt crying.

Yes, I used the term 'had not'.

I broke my streak yesterday.

What's strange is that the motivator came from the Leftiest of Left Fields.

I awoke in a great mood. It was Bennett's birthday. He turned 4 years old. And although he isn't REALLY 4 years old in his head, I didn't care, and still don't. I'm was not going to let that get me down. I refused to. How's THAT for evolution, BABY?

My interactions with him that morning were pleasant and warm, and I was NOT going to stress over the fact that he had NO IDEA AT ALL that it was not his birthday and doesn't even understand the concept of one. I was not going to dwell on the fact that he doesn't understand what 4 years old means, or that he still, when asked 'Bennett, who am I?', he calls me 'Kee-KO' after the Home Health Aide.

Denial is a beautiful thing, isn't it?

Nope, because I am all about celebrating the fact that the night before he came up to me and guided me by the hand to the bathroom and proceeded to bomb Dresden in the toilet bowl, squealing 'Puh-PAY!' after every delightful grunt. Nope, because I am all about being overjoyed that when I say 'Stand up.' to get his shoes on, he stands without hesitation. Nope, because when I say 'Ben-Ben, give Dadda a kiss.' he will grin, lean in and give me a kiss, wring his hands together, giggle like the Joker and then run away.

It's the little things that you learn to appreciate when you don't have everything working as it should with your kid. And man-o-shevitz...I love that kid, and I deeply, wholeheartedly, with everything I am...appreciate how lucky I am to have what I have with him.

And if I ever need any reminder of what I am missing? All I need to do is peek around the corner and eventually I will run into Carter, my older son. He is a typical child. And even though every typical child comes with their own set of variables, and even though even a typical child can grow up to be Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer, there is definitely no reason at all why I do not understand how extra lucky I am that I have this to cling to when things seem their bleakest.

Sounds pretty balanced right? Sounds fairly upbeat right? So why in the name of Hell's chicken was I collapsed in a heap crying yesterday morning?

Because I am one weird mufugga, and I have an unnatural attachment to people I have never met.

See, this Special Needs Community, which needs a better name cause I hate that one, is, or rather has become, a sort of family to me. And with a few exceptions like Elaine and Joyce, I have not had much opportunity to meet these fine folk in the fleshy flesh, and yet I feel a bond with many of them as deeply as any bond I feel with friends I have known all my life.

Even with those I may only talk to on occasion, or not at all.

It is such s strange phenomenon. But this Fratenasorority is unlike anything I have ever known before. The other day I was talking to Elaine about it. She went to an event with some other Special Needs Moms to Sesame Place, an event that was discussed on a private Message Board called Brain Parents, of which I am a member.

I could have joined in and attempted to go to this event and finally met the likes of Danielle, who wrote a terrific blog about the whole trip, and Sinead and others, but unfortunately we in Lillyville are really struggling in a major way and could not afford it. I had to cancel the trip to see my Mom for Thanksgiving, so no way could I afford to take Bennett to Sesame Place.

So I kept quiet out of embarrassment and just watched in awe as these people got together and wished I could have been a part of it. Maybe. Someday.

But Elaine said something about the experience that rings true most of the time. When you meet people who are in these trenches with you, there is such a commonality that it is almost like you have known each other all your lives.

Take Heather for example.

When she and I first started talking to each other about the whole iPad Contest Gone Wrong, which eventually turned into Mission: iPossible, that first phone call was EFFORTLESS. And it was only around halfway through it that we even realized there was a Truth to it that neither of us had picked up on. It was if we had known each other before. She was like a sister, a dear friend I had known since I was a kid.

It was the very same way all the way through that entire experience. Any time I had the good fortune of speaking to anyone on the phone, any of the parents who were on the Recipient list, or even some that were not, it was so easy to talk to them. All because of this ONE common trait that we share.

Our kids are in distress.

Isn't that crazy?

Well, call me crazy then.

Yeah sure, there are exceptions, and I know there are feuds, and disagreements. And that's a part of community too. I wish it were NOT true but it is. But for the MOST part, it is a good thing.

Somewhere in here, I had a point. Oh yeah...why the Hell was I crying?

Because this guy, this SingleDad and one of his posts in particular, just got to me yesterday morning. And although if he reads this I know he's going to be perturbed that I allowed myself to get jacked up like that, especially after he followed up with a new post with a very positive message saying that he was OK and that there was a lot of good in his life and that he was suffering from Sleep Deprivation among other things, it just bothered the living shit out of me that things were like they were for him and his kids.

Of course, now the fact that he is getting so many offers for tail I am jealous as all get out, but hey...I'm married...and the grass, well, it is ALWAYS greener, don'tcha know. And besides...he has very often commented on the shoes on MY feet and the blessings I have with Mrs. Blogzilly.

Now, he wasn't the SOLE reason for the tear-fest, mind you. Only the catalyst. Clearly I have a few things on my mind.

It was worse because Carter was waiting for the bus, and just like laughing in Church, the more you try NOT to do something the harder it is to actually DO it, so the minute I got him out the door it was like the fly on a fat man's pants on Thanksgiving. The buttons started popping off and I had to cut loose.

So I did.

Why then? Well, like I said, I had some emotional constipation, and was bound up in the Express Thyself department. There have been some things wearing me down of late I haven't discussed much here. Why was he the emotional enema, so to speak? I dunno...aside from the obvious Man-Crush, I guess I was just sitting there wondering why this guy, who I happen to have a great deal of respect for, got SUCH a shitty end of Life's Great Stick when it comes to the Dadness. He had a terrific role model of a Father, who recently passed away, and at least from the cheap seats it seems like SingleDad is perfectly equipped (AHEM) to handle Fatherhood of a typical child very well.

In other words, he would bring great things to the relationship. And I think it would be fairly effortless for him.

And yet, here I am, on the other hand, a fucking MESS when it comes to that scenario. If Dickens were writing the story of my Dad's it would be titled A Tale of Two Shitheads. And the two of them in combo worked me over but good. And as much as I struggle with the challenges of Special Needs Fatherhood, I struggle even MORE with Typical Needs Fatherhood with Carter, and it is work, really hard WORK, to break through barriers I have to be emotionally available to him, to spend time with him, and express things I need to with him ALL because of this fucked up baggage I carry.

Where is the balance in this? How is this fair?

But I feel like that about a ton of stuff, not just with my Digital BFF.

So it hit me the wrong way, and it triggered an emotional moment, one that was probably overdue. Needed it. Purging some of that stuff is never a bad thing. To me anyway.

So thanks, SD, for helping me to get to my inner child.

If it means anything at all. When I think of 'SD' as it applies to YOU, my friend? I think of SuperDad, not SingleDad, and I imagine a giant red 'S' on your chest and you wearing your underwear on the OUTSIDE of your pants. And I think, typical child or not, you are a beautifully flawed, fantastic father and a helluva human being. And I would give anything to see you get all the things you rightfully deserve.

You are the definition of Good.

And so, after I got up and dusted myself off (MAN I have a dusty floor) the day went on, and then we had a bit of a get together for Bennett later in the evening. He got a bit overloaded, and his mood was AWFUL because of a nap we had to jolt him out of.

Waddya gonna do? It's just another day. There were some good moments, and he did eventually level off.

Learned a valuable lesson about him too.

Slow down with this birthday and other 'event' type stuff where we try so hard to do it in the 'typical' way with him.

As much as I WANT to give him multiple gifts on his birthday, I think I do that more for Carter's benefit than Bennett's. Or even my OWN benefit, for the experience of it. And frankly? It just freaks Bennett out. At Christmas, I am going to pull the reins back and just give Bennett one thing. MAYBE two. Let him absorb it, get into it, enjoy it.

Or you know what? This Christmas, maybe I'll just get Bennett a Kippah and take him down the Jewish road for a while, maybe go the Hanukkah route. Don't they give one gift each day for like twelve days or something like that and eat knish? If I passover such a great idea I would be such a shmendrik. I have just the chutzpah to do it, too, and don't you forget it.

Sounds kosher to me! Oy vay!



  1. You write it all so well -- I believe you live it well, too. Sometimes we must believe, in order to survive, that intention is everything.

  2. I think you wear that very same cape that SD does. You sell yourself short sometimes. You do that a lot , you know.

    I think the navigation thing is common for many of us. Whether we belong to this exclusive club that we didn't ask to join, or not. But the really cool thing about it is, that we are not doing it alone. That's something, right?

  3. Oy, Ken, Ken, Ken. What can I say? First, I am proud to have been your "emotional enema" if only for the fact that that is the only type I would want to be.

    We are all given a certain set of circumstances, never the same as someone else's, and it is how we deal with our hand that counts. You see, I see you most definitely as a mensch in that way that you deal with people, Mission iPossible being a perfect example. The depth of your empathy, which as you know I think is the key to life, is incredible. Sure, you are a bissel meshugana (a touch crazy) but who isn't?

    I do the best I can with the tools I have (and yes, I am proud of some of them), as you do. Bennett is lucky to have you as a dad, imagine if he had one like yours were. You are doing right by him, and the best as you can with Carter. Guilt that you are not doing enough? Want to talk to me about guilt? ;)

    Hanukkah is eight days, and many families give eight small presents. I like your idea, get Bennett a kippah, one for you and Carter as well, a sheitel for Mrs. Blogzilly, and get your tuches (this video came up when I googled that word) over here so we can finally have that man-hug, talk about this whole fatherhood thing, drink lots of beer and scratch our bellys while watching some inane game on TV.

    It's all about doing the best we can with what we have. You surpass that somehow, a fact that in itself makes you an incredible person. Thanks for the good words, but know that most of them apply to you as well.

    Shalom aleichem my friend. Keep up the work.

  4. That last line was to be "Keep up the great work." And of course, Happy Birthday Bennett!!!

  5. I agree with do sell yourself short sometimes. That video you posted not so long ago with Bennett playing with the speaks volumes at how amazing of a father you are!!!

  6. Elizabeth:
    I'm hoping that intention does count for something, because in the end that is what I am left with much of the time. Life has a way of throwing curve balls and I am NOT good with that off-speed shit.

    It is something, and you do know that I am only 5'7" right? ;)

    Did you ever think that in your entire life that someone would affectionately refer to you as an 'emotional enema' and that you would really consider it an honor? The world is a strange, strange place my friend.

    EIGHT DAYS!!! Yeah...I got the song and the actual Hanukkah particulars messed up. You know, there's a joke in all of this somewhere...

    A Catholic and a Jew walk into a bar...

    About the whole selling of myself short and not giving myself enough credit. I'll address that in a post by itself, cause someone else e-mailed me about it and I have some things to say. I do realize that I have some good things that I do, I really do see that. Some of this is a purging area, but some of it is actual self-doubt not so much anymore when it comes to Bennett, but much moreso how it pertains to Carter now. I see myself with Bennett as being a better father because I HAVE to be. Now I need to be a better father to Carter because I choose to be. But I'll get into that later. But I do thank you for noticing and saying that you think I am a good Dad. I try to be, and I don't think I am a bad father, I just, like any other Dad, like any other man worth his salt, see myself as a person who can always find ways to improve myself.


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