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Punk Grew U

Trigger Warning

“We need to talk tomorrow”
“About what?”
“You know what we need to talk about. What happened at school earlier.”

My son lowers his head to shoulder-length, pulling his favorite green and blue blanket up over his head. His eyes raise to the video chat, wide, filled with a mixture of uncomfortable sadness and embarrassment.

*****

I try to remain composed as my ex-wife explains the phone call from the school. My son, at six-years old, is saying he wants to kill himself. I try to focus on my breathing, fake smiling to the people passing by. I grit my teeth, asking what we do. She doesn’t has a clue. She’s ‘tapped out’, as she puts it.

What the fuck do you do?

She lets me know I can expect a call in an hour or so. I hang up before I lose composure. The next hour, the motions of work seem to drain by in slow motion. I’m here, but my heart is seeking out the murmurs of my son; trying to divine a connection from the many miles between us. Maybe if he somehow feels the thumping, through some cosmic miracle, he can unload whatever hurts; allowing me to carry his pain with my own.

******

My ringer goes off an hour and five minutes later. The social worker has a pleasant, calming, voice as she asks me if I am busy. She outlines what happened. My son had become fixated on a toy at school. The little magnetic ’T’, he, for some reason, had no interest sharing when the time came. As the teacher took the toy, he quietly said to himself, “I want to kill myself”

I try to wrap my head around it. I hear the social worker talk about risk management, this and that, I don’t know- I am not in this conversation. I’m thinking about my mother telling me how my sister is dead, via self-inflicted gunshot wound. I’m years removed, in the tufts of morning light with a bunch of pills and a bottle of Jack Daniels.

I try to bring myself back to this point. To my child with the infectious grin. The clever boy, who daily outmaneuvered his siblings using tact beyond his years. My gifted little artist.

The voice on the phone tells me she doesn’t believe he understands the concept of suicide. How he can be attention-seeking at school. I bring up his goodnight phone call a few nights ago to his mom where he mentioned being called a ‘loser’ by one of his peers.

She tells me of her extensive time in his well-supervised classroom setting. How she’s ‘NEVER’ heard the children behave that way towards one another.

I wonder if it’s my heart miles away, or my mind years into the past, but through the fog of not being here; all I hear is blame.

And I am angry as fuck.
My six-year old said he wanted to kill himself and you want to tell me he has attention-seeking tendencies? You want to talk about how he doesn’t understand what he was saying- he was just saying it to get a reaction. Didn’t you just tell me he said it to himself?

Rage fills me.

“I’m trying to tell you my son stated he was bullied. In today’s society, with how serious the repercussions of that are- you’re going to chalk it up to him being disruptive, minimilazing my concern because of how well-supervised he is?”

Minimalizing. I’m so angry, I know the word is wrong but I don’t fucking care. I’m aching sixty miles away. I need to hold my son. I need to protect him.

“I’m worried about my child’s mental health right now, you know, since he is six and saying he wants to kill himself.”

She backpedals, and I can hear that pleasant, calming voice, become exasperated.

I’m breaking. Rambling angrily at this lady through the phone. She tries to course correct, apologizing and promising there is no minimizing of my concerns.

twenty-seven minutes later, I’ve spent an hour and forty minutes torn between the here and now, and everything in between.

******

Bedtime rolls around, and I make my nightly call to say goodnight. Before I talk to my kids, their mother and I talk about what’s next. We don’t know.

Who the fuck knows?

My son is his usual cheery self. I tell him how much I love him and miss him. I place emphasis on loving him so goddamn much. I let him know I know and we will talk about it.

******

The drive home from work is about an hour of talking to myself and sad music. Forming what I will say to a six year old with the rest of his life ahead of him who said he wanted to kill himself.

I get home, grabbing a beer to decompress.

The crying begins

*****

My six-year-old son sits on my bed, and I tell him a story he’s never heard about an aunt he never knew.

17

The double edged sword, watching your kids grow up.

My sons are transitioning into the talking stage, which is super exciting, if you like them vocally disapproving of your parenting. Milestones have always been bittersweet for me. I am happy for my sons, they are growing up! I will always cheer their accomplishments on, big or small. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that with each new exciting stage I don’t also get a little sad. My babies are not babies anymore. While the old cliché “they will always be my baby” is cute, they are no longer babies, but toddlers.

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I’ve managed to be there for every milestone thus far. That’s a rare feat and one I’m particularly proud of! Working at night has provided me with the opportunity to be a committed father by day. From crawling to running, I’ve had my cheerleader Pom-Poms in hand and “Eye of The Tiger” blaring in the background, rooting on my tyrants as they discover a new ability.

The joy of discovery that spreads across a child’s face is, quite simply, unparalleled. They beam the biggest smiles and quickly seek you out for affirmation. Pride is shared by both parent and offspring, and it’s one of the purest, most beautiful moments that can ever occurs. The parent-child bond is tangible, an invisible umbilical cord never severed.

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A part of me gets sad though. Each milestone is a move towards independence. Every day my kids are able to do something new for themselves. Their exploration of the world no longer requires me to carry them everywhere like Hodor from Game of Thrones. While my arms may have ached, I always felt a sense of purpose in the times of being a kid ferry. What’s next? What if tomorrow they wake up and I’m not the coolest person they know? I couldn’t bear it, it would be too much! I think there will always be a part of me that misses when I was their primary transport service from room to room.

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When Nicolas began to crawl it was in classic Ridiculous Nicolas form. We were at a buddies house and I was in a side room getting a tattoo, if I remember correctly it was my Little Mermaid piece. Nicolas wanted to hang out and see what was going on, the kids always enjoy watching me get ink. After crying about not being in the room Nicolas decided he was going to get in that damn room and began to crawl. The whole time he inched toward the room with his head down, sobbing and pissed. You could just tell in his mind he was thinking ” YOU ARE GOING TO INCLUDE ME GOD DAMNIT!” Once he made it to the doorway he sat there, just glaring at us, with the reddest face in the history of children.

Killian began to crawl a week later, in less dramatic fashion. He has always had a way of just doing. He likes to watch someone else do something and then just do it. His outlook is Nike. From that point on, major operations of dad shuttle shut down. Once kids go mobile, in my experience, they don’t want to be carried much anymore. Now instead of walking my kids through rooms I chase them from room to room, exasperatingly trying to put a diaper on a naked bottom.

I no longer see my kids as babies, they are truly toddlers now. They run, are quite vocal and seem to have a good grasp on what they want. Every morning one retrieves the remote and brings it to me, the sign that it is time to start Barney marathon morning bonanza. Soon after a hand will take mine to guide me to a high chair, it’s breakfast time. While being bossed around by a toddler every morning is not what I planned, it shows I still have purpose! It will only be a matter of time before the cool thing is to cook breakfast for themselves (two right?).

IMG_6482.JPGThey already know how to drive, cooking will be next I assume.

I will always feel ambivalence for them growing up, I feel that’s a normal feeling for parents. To be honest I’m more worried about being replaced as their heroes than them actually growing up. They really seem to like that Barney fellow and I’m not above framing him for something horrible so he doesn’t pass me on their list of cool people. All I can do as a parent though is to encourage their accomplishments and endeavors; Pom-Poms and ” Eye of the Tiger” on hand and at the ready at all times.

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How do your kids’ milestones make you feel? Do you have that slight sadness as they grow up? Is traumatizing your child and blaming barney unethical?

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