Quixote and Me

images-1Image by Elizabeth Kelman, 2012

By the time you read this the caballeros of Altadena will long be done. Done leaning back on their homeward mounts, done clip-clop climbing the too narrow sidewalks north of Lincoln near the stables toward Castillo, done stomping code of crisp days coming.  Clip clop, clip clop, the sound of clocks, clip clop, a knock-knock joke, clip clop, a slow castanets, hoofs on concrete, quarter horses, half-bloods, the chestnut mare with wild eyes, clip clop, dusk dropping into chaparral baskets, under cover of crimson sky.  Mexican wedding cookies, crusted bread, churros, callouses, chores, tradition, pair of tan hands caressing trust, squeak of shifting leather, dungarees, chaps, changing directions.  A “Chk-chk” kiss catching back of cowboy cheek and chops, smooch between amigos, chums, confidantes.  Quixote, time you and me headed home.

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The Post-Adopt Crawl

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The speaker tells our packed meeting room, “Best use for the baby’s “Exersaucer Sit-n-Spin” is — first — taking the baby out — put saucer on drive, back car up. That, if you know a kid who used one, was in a jumper, has ADD, ADHD, math or reading problems, or, autism-like behaviors, probably he or she didn’t crawl enough.

“A kid cannot crawl enough,” a woman named Bette Lamotte says, “Nothing like a baby squishing his or her hips through the birthcanal, then on the floor.”  Bette says, jumping, rotating, wiggling in front of our group.

“And,” Bette says, “Don’t prop your baby up.”

This, akin to parking your child on the street like a Honda.

“Babies need to crawl, crawl, crawl, creep, creep, creep.  The floor, she says quoting someone quotable, “is the athletic field of your child.”  And, about that, “Wear your baby, up close and personal, so he or she can feel your feel, feel your heartbeats, smell your calm, your passing fears are not worry ones, gazing into your eyes, building left to right brain connections – his or her inner securities.  And, parents, this means, no strollers, no joggers, no walkers, no kidding, or else,” she says, “learning problems.  Nature has prepared us in increments for all.”

Oh, is that all, me thinking about my biological son’s ADD, dyslexia, my second son’s adoption, a built-in formula for loss, how I never considered his apparent ADHD, dyslexia, autism, ongoing tantrums relative to his not crawling much, my using an Exersaucer with our first child, the high chairs, the cribs, the carseat. I thank God at least I “wore” my kids, though I could have done so much more. Anyway, I’m awake now.

“Go back to the beginning,” Bette says, “start over, no matter your child’s age, your age.  Reconnect.”

But, how, I wonder, can I do it like he grew in me?  Like how he went through the birth canal, wasn’t a “C” section baby, wasn’t picked up from his birth mom per hospital protocol, set in an incubator for three days, prodded by doctors, nurses, left with us, baby-hungry strangers, ready to pounce like he was theirs all along, their bio babe, not someone living out of a hotel far from his birthright familiar, not with his birthmom and birthdad who seeded him beyond our reach.

“Turn on the switches,” Bette tells us,  “Do your work.  He will mend,” as she relays the story of a town near her where 17 out of 23 kids were labeled ADHD, how the learning problems went back to the baby jumpers at daycare.

Body, then mind, the day’s speakers say.  Yoga.  Spine, body, brain.  First, crawling.

I spend the next day, the weekend, near fetal, integrating a tsunami.  The learning what I missed and started to appreciate at the Celia Center Adoption/Foster healing conference, from word go about the adoptee “Sarah” and her journey to West Africa to the “Bio-Mom One Show,” what I could not stop reading, writing about in my journal, trying to retool my head — articles, parent, parenting, doctors blogs, Webinarjam, how my journey, my children’s differed.  I felt the riptide.  Today, I promised myself to renew bridges, our commitment to our sons, my son’s birthmom, how open dare I be?  Can we both be?

I can do it.  Yes, we can. We’re all in. We do our Brain Gym calmers, his taekwondo and swimming waiting for our Bette appointment in January, building on our daily special time. Today a train store with dad, tomorrow the beach. I buy The Body Keeps The Score, by Bessel Van Der Kolk.

“And speak to your child’s sleep,” one blogger says, “to his angels, his sorry, scary, sad places, ‘holding’ his experiences about the loss of being adopted, talk to his sleeping self, that something scary happened back there, he was powerless, tiny, that I don’t smell right, heartbeat right, am not her, him. How two of our triad are irreplaceable.  But don’t “talk it to death” — even if he’s sleeping — that that’s “TTD Syndrome.”  Grow bigger shoulders Mom,” a blog doc says.

I flashback, remembering our son’s “Gotcha Day,” the very name, not mine, aggressive, reminding me of my thin veiled greed, at the sight of our infant son and us, the pile up of tough days since with all these labels, his flight fight brain, the doctors, the schooling, the programs, camps, therapists, the questions, work. So far come, so far to go.

Today I promise myself to soften up on myself, on us all, my love language toward our challenges, not to walk away, ever, reconsider even the minor walks across the room, around the corner, the next room, as I’ve been counseled when I am trying to recover my cool, to communicate a line crossed.  Walk toward him, with him, walking away feeds feelings of abandonment, triggering more fears.

Be safe, him, me.

“Build permanence,” a Celia Center Conference doc says, “healing in the family setting.”

Create emergency plans for the big emotional stuff.  Typical kid, or not, they have, they will come.

I promise myself to be compassionate to myself when my kid says, “I hate you Mom,” this, might mean is, “I hate feeling this way.”

There is time, I tell myself.   Take a minute, or five.  Lighten up.

“Parents have 72 hours to revisit issues.”  A friend says her son’s talk doc told her. She suggests over dinner “Maybe get your need for him to show up a certain way out of your dynamic.” Ohm….my, that too? Was I projecting again? I loosen another expectation.

“Twenty minutes wires us for the good,” another speaker doc says.

Good or bad, I promise to get on the floor more, play with my son, play trains, crawling, rewiring our relationship for the long haul.

I laugh when I read this one on a blog, “Lay down.  It changes the body’s dynamic, our mindset, quieting our defenses.”  Maybe buying a mom or dad the time he or she needs lest one say or do something regrettable.

“On the kitchen lineo if you must,” I read.

By Saturday afternoon, I am an open cruciform, where I lay on the edge of my son’s soccer field, promising myself to pull over later in my car on an as-needed basis — on (but, not in) the road. My son a statue in the middle of the soccer field, unenthused, in a med fog, until he sees his dad and big brother step onto the field. “Look my brother, hey Dad look at me!” I sit up.

Webinarjam Kathy Gordon, an adoptive mom parenting counselor working with Bette says, “Make special time.  Set a timer, one on one play time, listening to your child with intent, asking a friend, neighbor, comrade be your “Listening Partner,” calling him or her, once a week, once a day with no idle chit chat, holding your time and theirs, sacred.” Crawling on the lineo if you must.

Hambone Hammett aka Pecan Bill by Thom Smyth

Pecan Bill who knew?

Pecan Bill who knew?

Regarding Bill, a dear friend of my brother’s passed years ago, this, a note written by my brother today, alas, another poet slash creative (T., the greater) in the family)….a commemoration:

“Aka Bill Clyde Benton the third (and several affectionate labels only close friends would dare to utter) today a funny thing struck me, this is the anniversary of his passing, and my becoming focused on acknowledging to myself publicly that this terrific guy friend lover partner was REALLY here 22 years ago and that we made a difference . It occurred to me how silent I have become about
this and decided to find a ribbon – symbols are so powerful and this one
has been in my life very personally since May 22 1992. Funny thing I didn’t have a ribbon anymore and, as I was passing a “notions” shop ( what are the chances on Madison Ave in the 50’s near Bloomies) I went in and there nestled atop all kinds of ribbons striped laced and taffetaesque was a spool of the most perfect red ribbon $1.35/yd could buy. What happened next took me by surprise. I told the counter matron that I wanted a small piece. At first quick to outline the parameters of 1 yard minimums she paused as I said I would buy the yard and take …..( I folded the ribbon around itself to form that all too familiar symbol of a pinned ribbon) . Before I could finish she clipped 4 inches and gave it to me , thanking her I said I lost a very special man 22 years ago. Without saying more she took out a pin came around the counter and asked if I’d like a pin. She folded the ribbon and placed it on my jacket lapel. Thanking her as I left I was touched by this act of kindness from someone to help me witness that I knew a man by the name of Hammett and today I remember. Xo you all and cheers to Bill. Treat yourselves to a L’ll cocktail or piece of pecan pie today -Bill would like that!

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