Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Do Unto Others

     "If you do more for me, I will do more for you." Riley explains to me this morning as I get the five of them ready for school.  "Remember that." He adds. It is seven a.m and as usual I am stumbling around half awake and stiff but pretending to be wide awake and competent. I am not in the mood for negotiating with twelve  n  year old terrorists, even hostiles who have spent the day before laying flat on their backs in the emergency room. I remind him of my whole hearted dedication yesterday. I remind him of the large stuff Melissa and Doug Dachsund that I bought him from the hospital gift shop.
     "You only love me when I'm sick." Riley explains to me. I wonder why I am bothering to explain any of this to him. He must know this. But apparently he needs affirmation. Apparently he thinks that gifts are equivalent to love.  In which case, his Ipod, Xbox360, Laptop, Computer, personal television, trampoline, bicycle, trip to Universal Studios and ETC should have spoken loud and clear. Even so I patiently explain to him that love and money do not go hand in hand. And that I love him every minute, whether he is acting in love or acting in anger. And if this is not love, then heaven's a myth (as the song says.)
     We are waiting for the results of Riley's Echocardiogram. He started having chest pains Sunday afternoon, during the Mother's Day picnic and missed school Monday. I thought that he pulled a muscle playing baseball. But Tuesday, the school nurse called and said that his resting pulse was jumping up to 130 and his pediatrician wanted him to go to the emergency room. The EKG said there was a minor irregularity, a premature beat. By the time we got home, Riley was headed back up the steep slope of the ADHD roller coaster and this morning he is full speed. The doctor wants him to stop taking Vyvance until we know what is happening and after reading about the side effects, I cannot agree more. Apparently, cardiac episodes are a rare but potential very serious side effect.
      Choosing a stimulant for Riley was a hand twisting, brow sweating kind of decision. We only made the choice to medicate Riley after dozens of in school suspensions, a week of being expelled for kicking the gym teacher and many other serious incidents. He is extremely small for his age but he makes up for his size with his mighty rage. Riley has the biggest brown eyes, the longest eyelashes. He has a potential future on Comedy Central but thinks he is worthless. His math papers are scribbled with his own brand of graffiti: Epic Failure, Ugly, Small, Retarded. I never thought he lacked in love, but I wonder now if in the timeline of Riley's life there was not something, somehow that I personally screwed up.
     My therapist says I am remarkably calm considering my life. I have an autistic teenager and an ADHD child with medical problems. My nine year old daughter has discovered hormones in the third grade and my seven year old can't focus her attention for longer than a millisecond. I had to call the police to give my fourteen year old a lecture on respect...and it would have been effective if he had not run off into the woods. Riley got the brunt of that lecture but I don't think it sunk in. I only hope he won't jump me again. I am remarkably calm, until the lights go out. I am remarkably calm until my partner, Laura, tries to criticize me in the simplest of ways. Sometimes Laura takes the punches.
     I tried to teach the children the golden rule. And somehow Riley thought that meant we don't do anything unless others do for us. It's not the kind of spin I was looking for. I want to wrap him up in my arms and run  my fingers through his hair and still smell Johnson's and Johnson's instead of Axe. I want to give him a stuffed dog and have him name it Spot, not Wienee. I want him to come in with breakfast in bed, even if its a ketchup and grape jelly croissant with potato chips sprinkled on top, NOT demand that I wake up at five and cook him a hot pancake breakfast because he is a man now and needs a good meal. I wish that I had another chance to teach him to be kind to others. But since I do not have a time machine I will reinforce my love every day. I do not expect them to be grateful but I don't mother because I expect thanks. I do what I do as an act of love and I will make this my yoga.

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