If there is one thing I have learned over 52 days of trial, innocence does not live in the courtroom. Oh, how that is so! Lucky for me, every single night, I came home to innocence. Screaming-singing-dancing-bugging-me-til-I’m-half-crazy, innocence.
I know that before all this craziness, I didn’t think much about some of the reasons I love my little guy. I just knew with all I am, that I loved him. Going through what I have over basically “my summer”, I see, with full highlights, what a contrast my home life is compared to the ugly, ugly world where I have worked. And I’m glad this has been a temporary condition.
You know, for some jobs like criminal trial lawyers, prison guards, coroners, just to name a few, people have to face this kind of thing every day. But when you choose that for your profession, you expect it and come to desensitize to it. Compartmentalize it.
Not me. I have not acquired that skill – and so this death case was extremely emotionally draining. For those people who do those kinds of jobs and raise young children? I just learned how that must feel. It’s exceedingly strange. I could not do this on a regular basis.
My son began kindergarten on August 15th. I missed his first day because of this trial. Despite my absence, he loves it. He has asked me 16 gazillion times, “Do you go to kindergarten?” “Who are your teachers?” Yes – he asks me. Because he wants me to ask him…
While I was taking witnesses on cross-examination from 9-4:30 most days during the beginning of this trial, I was desperately trying to find an appropriate kindergarten class in which to place him. Part of the desperate search was because I would be in trial a long time and school would definitely have started in most places before I finished.
So, on a “dark” day (a day the Judge has other business and we do not have Court), I checked again on the kindergarten just three buildings over from where I work at a medium sized church. It was a very nice conversation with the administrator and the teacher and it was decided that this would be my son’s class. And then the nicest, most coincidental information came to my attention. One of his teachers has a child with Asperger’s.
Both the tutors that take him to school have told me how these teachers are wonderful, patient, kind and understanding of his autism. They are accommodating of his tutors who sit with him and prompt him through his three hours of class a day. I was truly blessed to find such a conveniently located class – so close to the office that I or Jessica can walk him there daily and be only a minute away. Someone is looking out for my little guy and I up there.
Both the hubs and I have felt – throughout this weird 52 days of Court- that we were in a time warp. The Courtroom is windowless. We’re basically sealed in with our jurors and Court Reporter as we question witnesses, argue, and admit evidence all day long. We left Court at 4:30 -5 every day, traveled back 35 miles to our office, unloaded boxes of documents and evidence, re-loaded with new boxes and other evidence, went home, worked all night, went to sleep for 6 hours and started again. Every Court day went by so fast.
Meanwhile, my son has been growing, physically. Slower with communication. Slower with integration. Much too fast for academic skills. Sometimes, I watch him and it’s so weird because he can read at the level of – I swear- a 4th grader. He knows addition equations in his head but he will not share this info unless asked (usually more than once).
He also – often – completely spaces out. He does not listen to his teacher. He will have something going on in his head that spills out through his voice. His echolalia, while more sophisticated than his earlier years, is in high gear. Often, in public he blurts out reactions to apps on his iPad or my iPhone when he needs to be quiet. There is much work to do…
Through his development slow and quick, it has felt to me as though I was standing in slow motion while the world operated on fast-forward around me. It’s like everything around me is changing and moving but I’ve been moving at a different pace. Maybe that’s a bit how my son feels. He moves at a different pace than the world that is passing him by. And sometimes, it’s overwhelming.
When I returned home each night, my son would demand my attention. I could only give enough of it to get him fed, give him a bath, a breathing treatment, some love and to put his pajamas on for bed. And so? He became independent. He found toys and games to amuse himself. And though, my house looks like a tornado hit it, it was a good growth experience for both of us.
My son is writing (begrudgingly) and learning to communicate for play with new children. He’s far surpassed his classmates in reading and spelling but, at the same time, he spaces out and cannot take instructions unless given one-on-one. He has learned his days of the weeks with which we had so much trouble. In some part because my lovely friend Karla taught me the “Adam’s Family” theme song with the days of the week. (Thanks Karla!) The other part of why he learned the days of the week was because it helped him know when mama would be at home on the weekend or days when there was no Court.
The beauty of his relationship with me is that he still calls himself my baby. He wants to be my baby. Yet he’s growing, physically and with a newfound sense of maturity, despite the communicative delays. Through it all, he remains so innocent, so loving and so patient.
And now that it’s all over? When I hear, “Mommy to play?” I can. It’s music to my ears.