On Monday afternoon, my son’s Little Gym sports class put on a “show.” The show was for parents as kind of a finale, to show off the degree of skill the kids had acquired over the course of the class. It involved running “bases” for baseball and mock hitting with a “swim noodle” in place of a bat. The kids used hockey sticks to make a goal, and putted a golf ball. It was very adorable.
During the course of the “show”, the teacher would explain things to the parents using the words “moms” and “dads”. My husband, Tootles‘ daddy, has been in trial since the beginning of the month. This means he is in Court five days a week and does not return home until 6-8 p.m. He then works upstairs until midnight. On the weekends, he’s been working at the office and then returning home to go upstairs and work again til midnight.
Tootles does not like it. At all. He misses his daddy.
During the show, he turned to his tutor and said that he missed his daddy. I was there but mom is always there. This is sports stuff and I think he really wanted his dad to see what he learned, even though he did not express that in so many words. Daddy is the one who plays baseball and golf, not mom.
Each night, when his daddy gets home, my son runs to him and talks to his dad about whatever he wants his daddy to do at that very moment. It always begins with wanting to go upstairs because he knows this is where daddy goes when he gets home. Daddy always makes time for the little guy, even if only for 20 minutes or so. They disappear together and then daddy returns our son to me so he can work.
After the return, my son does try to amuse himself when I am doing some chore or writing. Otherwise, we do something together of our own. During these evenings, at some point, he will always talk about wanting to go upstairs again. I have to tell him he can’t. But he’s mastered a new technique. He will yell to his daddy upstairs. “DADDY!”
We both actually love hearing it because it is a skill that took him four years to acquire. He never used to yell for either of us and we are simply happy that he does this “daddy yell” now.
When Daddy does not come running downstairs, my son will repeat it. When Daddy yells back, ”What is it?” the little guy yells, “Daddy, I want some apple juice!” My husband, like a sucker, comes downstairs. Usually, my son has a fresh glass of apple juice right in front of him. The little guy knows a request for apple juice will get his daddy’s attention.
This whole month has been chaotic for my son because of this trial. Jessica has been working at the courthouse for the whole month. Billy is away from the office studying for the Bar Exam in July. It is very quiet in our office and I have been left to run what is left going on while taking my son to all his therapies.
On Fridays, during the trial, the courtroom has been “dark”. This means that there is no jury trial on Fridays so my son has been able to see Jessica. You might think this would make him happy. Instead, it is confusing and overwhelming.
Jessica is excited to see Tootles, pick him up and hug and hold him. He smiles and then he wants her to hold him all day long. He wants to climb in her lap and have her baby snuggle, tickle and play with him. She can do this for only moments and then she must go back to work. This causes my son severe emotional anxiety. He is excited to see Jessica and then Jessica becomes “unavailable” to him for reasons he cannot understand. He doesn’t actually have a meltdown about this. He does cry, but in a quiet way that makes it clear there is no panic, no anger, just sadness. I feel it right along with him and it breaks my heart.
He’s started repeating “Daddy and Jessica are using the vacuum cleaner”. When our office was broken into the night before Easter, shortly before trial, we all came to the office. There was broken glass all over the carpet in my husband’s office. I took my son out so he would not get hurt and then both Daddy and Jessica used the vacuum. My son is scared of the vacuum at the office because it is (horribly) loud. I think he’s made some kind of connection between the horrid sound of the vacuum and their disappearance every day for trial. But despite this scary connection, my son’s bravery and desire to see them both has surpassed his fear.
This week when I’ve pick him up from preschool, we’ve headed over to the office for his ABA sessions as we usually do. Each day in the car he has asked if Jessica and Daddy are back at the office. I have to tell him they are not back yet. This week I told him, “Daddy and Jessica are not there today. They are in court.” I knew he has never been to court and does not know what it is, but I thought it would be good for him to hear this information.
Some kids might ask questions about what court is and what their daddies do there. My son does not ask these questions. Instead, he paused, turning his head to the side as he usually does when he is pondering. Then he said to me, quite excitedly, “Wanna go to court!! Wanna go to court!!”
Uh, yeah – no. But it was pretty cute. This trial better hurry up and finish. Otherwise, there’s going to be a new lawyer on our team and I’m not quite sure how that will work out.