Natalie's ADHD-fueled fits make her brother want to escape the house. This is not what I wanted for my son.
Aaron, my seventh grader, lets himself in the front door after school. “Hi Mom!” he yells.
“Aaron? Will you please bring me the phone?” I shout back, voice ragged with tears. I’m slumped on the floor outside Natalie’s room, one hand gripping the door knob, my back against the door, absorbing the impact of her rage-filled kicks. Bang. Bang. Another ADHD-fueled fit. "Are you calling the police on me?" Natalie asks. "No, I’m calling your dad."
Aaron hands me the phone, silent, the look on his face...what...accusing? Then he retreats to the basement, to his video games, taking the cat with him, and closes the door behind them. He’ll go to Zach’s house as soon as Zach texts him his daily invite: Can you play?
This is not what I wanted for my son. I grew up in a home that warranted escaping--parents who fought, a father with bipolar disorder I adopted friends’ families--ate meals with them, stayed overnight on weekends, vacationed with them. I grew up believing I’d never bring a child into a world like this one. But I did--this one who hides in the basement or in his room. Who spends more time at the Woodbecks' house than with his own family. And I adopted another, to give her a better home than I had. To show her a world worth bringing children into.
It’s 9:00. Natalie got over her fit almost as quickly as it came over her. She went on to have a good evening. I’m tired, have a sick headache from the crying, the tension. Nat’s in her bed, I’m in mine reading. I listen as Don and Aaron watch and talk sports together in the living room a floor below, their nightly ritual. Maybe he’ll be okay, after all, I think. He has this, he has his dad.
In the morning, we get up one at time, till Nat’s the only one still sleeping. Aaron sprints up the stairs, all smiles, to awaken her. He’s so sweet with her. So loving. I listen to his voice as he teases her awake, tells her he loves her.
Maybe he’ll be okay. I hope he’ll be okay. Please let him be okay.