Wednesday, July 25, 2012


The Gecko’s middle name is Cain. Yup Cain, the one who killed his brother. I thought I made up for it by selecting a first name that was taken from the kindest prophet in the Old Testament... but I guess not. My Gecko is a fighter. This child has not been able to turn down a tussle since starting Pre-Kindergarten in 2007, and this weary mama is getting tired of hearing what a naughty boy she has.

Last week he bit a kid. Today he bit a kid. Now he has been kicked out of Swamp Camp. Granted he didn’t start the fights, and yes he was being bullied but sheesh, why can’t he ever walk away? When it comes to the fight or flight reaction in the face of threats, he seems to only have the fight part.

I suppose this serves him well in soccer. He is an aggressive player and has no fear.

  soccer2 soccer

But for everyday situations when bigger boys are threatening him or pushing him around, he has no ability to control himself. I explained to him that there are different ways we handle things depending on the situation... if a grown up is nearby, he should get help but if there isn't, he should defend himself anyway he can. I tell him that name calling and threats are just goading and not to fall for it. I remind him that he who hits back gets caught.

All my efforts, punishments, and positive reinforcers have done nothing to help him. So my next idea is to train him to fight. Maybe having knowledge and confidence concerning real fighting will help him to manage these playground scuffles. Or maybe not... maybe he will just knock those boys out prior to getting scared and desperate enough to bite them... and then what will that camp lady say?

Friday, July 6, 2012


She was sitting in her highchair snacking on pretzels when I left the kitchen and slipped around the corner into my office. I was not yet settled in front of the computer when I heard it. The word burst out of her as if it were chasing me, “Mu... MA!” And because I had never heard it before from her, my mind dismissed it as just a screech from my little girl who was worried that the pretzel supply had walked out.

It came again, louder, desperate, and demanding, “Mu....MAH!” As it dawned on me that Kimani was calling for me, calling me mama, I started to shake. A little thrill lifted the hairs on my skin. I jumped out of my seat and ran to her. “Did you call me? Did you say mama?” I asked her, my face down close to hers. She peeked up at me with her beautiful blue eyes me as if nothing spectacular had just happened and signed/said pretzel.


The stream of new words started the last week in June with “cupcake” and continued on with cake, yogurt, pop, pasta, drink, mint, berry, out, and my favorite “mama”. The words are not clear as a bell, in fact some of them are more like word approximations but I can understand her. They don’t come easy. Each time she wants to say a word she stiffens a little and looks off to the side while she subtly moves her mouth into what seems like a practice position... Then she brings her hand to her face and places her fingers into the sound prompt spots around her mouth, nose, or under her chin. She wriggles her feet and stalls for a few more agonizing seconds, eyes flitting here and there. Finally it comes, flung from her whole body, the word... often followed by a smile.

And she ought to smile about it. Those half-pint words rock my world.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Wrong Idea


With every pregnancy comes a preconceived idea of the child that will be. We may not even realize how powerful and ingrained that idea is, unless it is challenged. The idea is firmly grounded in the perfected combination of the mother and father. A wanted pregnancy is a pregnancy of hope.


A prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome changes all that. Though nothing inside me was different than the day before I heard the news, everything in my mind was altered. The possibility of perfection was shattered, and I was left contemplating that even the best outcome would be subpar to a “normal” child. I hesitantly opened the yellow folder filled with xeroxed faded sheets describing what the future might look like.


Anal atresia, a flat face, heart defects, small low set ears... the flush of shame rushed through me. How could I have created this anomaly? I read a little more... and was clobbered with the worst of it, intellectual disability. My child would not be smart like me. In fact, according to the fact sheet, my baby would likely be a standard deviation or so down from the lowest point of normal human cognition.


I stuffed the papers back into the folder and closed it up. Then I put it high up on a shelf far away from me. I would not look at it again. I could not look at it again. “Que sera, sera,” I said to myself through my tears. And for the rest of my pregnancy I lived in fear of this ugly imperfect child growing inside of me.


What if I had been delivered this news early in my pregnancy, long before I could feel the baby fluttering, and long before the world could see that I was carrying? What if I had been told that my other children and my marriage would suffer because of this coming child? What if the doctor I trusted with my most womanly self had suggested that I could end this and do it over again with the odds stacked in my favor? What if the wrong idea had convinced me to take my daughter’s life?


I wish that every single woman facing this difficult decision could have a glimpse of her future. Not just of her child but of who she will become because of that child. It is a terrible thing to have knowledge without experience, fear without hope, vision without clarity. It is a terrible thing to have to make a life altering decision based on an idea, maybe even the wrong idea.