Child protective services showed up at our house. Only Tommy was home, but at 12 years old, we were pretty sure we were on solid legal ground leaving him there for a few hours. The worker told Tommy she "just wanted to know the truth", which left Tommy somewhat flummoxed. "Sure!" he replied.
While Erik and I counted down our frontmost marginal parenting decisions of the past few weeks (the list was surprisingly long and varied...an impressive array of missteps and mistakes), he made an appointment for the worker to come back and talk to him and the boys, both alone and separate. I was working, and although I was curious....I wasn't too worried. Turned out it was about Scotty, and the alarm had to have been sounded by summer camp the week before.
When the worker showed up, she explained that Scotty had spilled some water at camp and severely over reacted. Crying, scared, etc. When the camp counselor questioned him, and tried to reassure him that this was not a tragedy, Scotty burst out with, "I get hit! My brother gets hit! My mom gets hit!" Which, really, is only tragically, hilariously funny because none of those things is true. Erik literally laughed when she told him.
"He's just talking. [did not add: out his ass] You'll understand when you meet him." He left the room and went to play guitar while she talked to the kids. He left the door open and could hear her laughing. "Scotty, are you afraid of anything?" Scotty: "Yes! Have you seen the big yellow tractor at Yolore's house!"
File marked "unfounded" complaint.
It's hard to explain Scotty. He's a very quirky, unusual kid. But if you meet him...well, no explanation needed. :D He has an insane vocabulary, that he uses totally appropriately. Example: We were at the top of the ferris wheel, overlooking the fair. What six year old wouldn't say "I'm looking for Aunt Karen"? Scotty: "I'm trying to locate Karen." When he sees a red mini van: "That's a version of your car, just a different color." When he's done: "Set a course for home." (Trekies unite!)
He practices Extreme Walking and will move furniture all over the house so he can bounce and twist and flip his way through without ever touching the floor. He exhibits mild (in some cases) to moderate (in most cases) OCD behaviors. My brother has called him Monk, after the slightly obsessed tv character, since Scotty was two years old.
He's obsessed with death and dying, and earnestly needs me to reassure him, not occasionally, that human beings can, in fact, live to be 100. But I always gently add, "Scotty...everybody dies. If you live, you have to die. It's nothing to be afraid of. The important thing is to love each other with all the days we're given." I always tell him this while I hold his hand. Yet, when a small mouse (meant to be eaten by the classroom snake) passed away before he could be swallowed, Scotty cried over his cage and told me it was "his destiny" to use his "energies" to help the dead mouse. He shut his eyes tight and said "I will give some of my life, so he can live." Sometimes, all a mama can do is hug a boy tight and whisper "shhhh" in his ear.
My mom tells me he's indulged and thinks he's the way he is because somehow, he's spoiled? I still don't understand it, actually. He is who he is; marvelously, gloriously, impossibly different Scotty, and very often, I don't know what to say or do with him...but I love him even when I can't understand him, and I try hard not to be impatient with his quirky ways, even when he's so different from me I don't know how to start. He hates change. The first day of anything causes such anxiety and panic in him that he slowly decombusts over his morning routine, until finally he's rolled in a ball, crying, and whispering, "Nobody loves me." I curl myself around him and hug him...."Mama loves you, Scotty. Mama knows this: you get so nervous on the first day! But mama also knows this: you are so happy and smart and kind...this day is going to be a great day. And I'm going to hold your hand, and you're going to get through this part, because there's a lot of fun waiting for you on the other side. I'm here to remind you....it's always this hard for you....but only at first."
Lately, I've noticed that he queues up miscellaneous physical ailments. A jammed finger, a splinter, a stubbed toe....I think he feels it's acceptable to cry over these things, instead of how he's feeling. When he does this lately, I hug him and rock him and tell him..."Scotty, it's normal to feel this way. It's okay to cry when you're feeling scared or lonely or sad or angry." Scotty: "But my finger mommy...it's my finger!" I know, honey. I know.
I'm so afraid of disappointing him. What if he needs something I do not have? I think...there are times, thinking about my responsibilities as his mom, when I need somebody to hug me tight and whisper "shhh" in my ear. Here's what I know: I love him. I love my children. My story didn't even exist until theirs started.
I hope that's enough.