When I say he’s a “good” kid, I don’t mean he says “Please” and “Thank you,” or that he gets good grades.
I mean, he does all of those things, but that’s just scratching the surface.
When I say he’s a “good” kid, what I mean is that he’s a “good” human, something that can’t be taught; something I can’t take any credit for.
He was born with his heart, his giant, thoughtful, kind, loving, accommodating heart, and watching it grow and blossom and encompass everything he does is such an honor.
He couldn’t be a better sibling to his special needs brother if he tried.
I mean that with every fiber of my being.
The other day, during a botched appointment with the neurologist, Andrew became agitated and ended up having a full blown meltdown. Needless to say, our exit from the building was not graceful, and in my haste to remove my son from the premises safely and quickly, I left Andrew’s shoes in the exam room.
But my Ian, he noticed those shoes, and silently scooped them up when I wasn’t looking, thinking of his brother even though Andrew had been giving Ian a piece of his mind just moments before.
It may not seem like a big deal, that he noticed the shoes and thought to grab them, but it is a big deal. It’s just one of the gazillion ways that Ian is always thinking about his special needs sibling and the gesture is symbolic of his lifelong commitment to not leaving Andrew behind.
“I just didn’t want him to have to walk around barefoot.”
Having a brother with special needs is not easy.
I could gloss it over for you, make it sound like an inspirational Lifetime movie or a Hallmark commercial, but I’d be lying.
Sure, there are precious, priceless moments between my sons; lots of them in fact.
But there are also struggles and sacrifices and most of them come at the expense of our youngest, Ian, who is more often than not forced to take a backseat in life while we attend to Andrew’s ever growing list of needs.
Which makes what I did today that much worse to swallow.
Ian had his very first spelling bee this morning.
He’s been trying to back out of it for over a week now, his slight hesitation threatening to succumb entirely to the stage fright that usually dominates his life.
“I will be there,” I’ve told him, over and over again, promising to support him from the audience and cheer him on. “Regardless of what happens, I believe in you and I know you’ll do great!”
At 11:54 a.m. I got a text from one of the teachers: “Guess who’s happy he participated in the spelling bee? The guy who took First Place, that’s who!” Below the text was a photo of my son standing on the stage, holding his prize.
I forgot about the spelling bee, my mind filled instead with a to-do list that primarily focuses on Andrew most of the time while I washed my car in the driveway.
That’s right. I was washing my car, trying to figure out how I was going to fit in 500 phone calls by the end of the day, instead of sitting in the bleeping audience watching my son overcome his fears and kick this spelling bee’s ass.
This guilt? It’s like Catholic guilt on crack.
I know he’ll get over it and he’s already got a fund set up for future therapy appointments, so there’s that, but right now, I just feel like a world-class a-hole, you know?
Based on the comments I’ve gotten on my Facebook page, a truckload of sugar and throwing cold, hard cash should do the trick and help Ian find a way to forgive me.
Now the question is, how the heck do I forgive myself?