I’m currently sitting at my computer, fluffiest cat in my lap chewing on a hole in my jeans, while I pick my nails and rigorously assess my hair for split ends. This is what my writing process has come to. The dos and don’ts of what can and cannot be shared, the ever-increasing desire for privacy from my children as they age, legalities regarding Isaac and the child welfare system… these are the things that paralyze my writing – my very need to release has been hushed. There are so many thoughts swirling about my mind, preventing me from putting pen to paper, that I fear I will be bald and fingernail-less within the hour! So please, bear with me.
My husband said it best yesterday when he referred to our oldest two as the Mozart and Beethoven of nonsensical arguments. I’ll forgive him for the misquote due to his lack of composer knowledge… because obviously my kids are more like Bach. A schizophrenic Bach who got stuck in an endless loop of fugues, creating chaos while feeding off the other’s energy. Their composition is entitled Cameron and Taylor – An Everlasting Fugue. These two children are, in a sense, The Song That Never Ends. (At least Shari Lewis gets to rest in peace, unlike those of us living in my home.)
It’s to the point that even the three-year-old recognizes the disparities, both social and intellectual, between himself and his siblings. He regularly tells them to stop arguing and to “Quit acting like babies!” He reiterates that he already told them something ten times and, because I know he is my child, when they continue to ignore his directions he puts his arms in the air with a flourish and yells “I’m done!” before stomping away. (I swear it’s like looking in a mirror!)
But what Wyatt fails to understand at his young age is that Cameron and Taylor are stunted. Taylor remains under close watch and with limited freedom due to her extreme need to have the adults in her world enforcing moment by moment safety measures over her. This confuses Wyatt, as well as many of those close to us. When others look at her, they see a beautiful, vibrant 10-year-old. What they miss is the overwhelming need my daughter has to love and be loved in the only way she was shown as a young girl – a way that was traumatizing and abusive.
Even with Cameron, Wyatt constantly yells at him to stop being mean. And just like the regressed, overgrown toddler that Cameron is, he continues to instigate and torment, despite the consequences. But this week was a difficult one for him, both physically and emotionally. Not only did he have a kidney relapse after over-exerting himself on a youth group retreat, he also had his neuropsychological testing done. Whereas we haven’t received the results back from the 3.5-hour test, it was evident by the looks on both Cameron’s and the doctor’s faces that our follow-up appointment will be one that is lengthy. If that weren’t enough, on our way home from this exhausting test, we had no choice but to pass the town where Cameron lived before being adopted.
I do my best to avoid certain towns and neighborhoods with my children, but there are times when there is NO other route and the memories just start flooding. This was the case with my son as we drove home in silence from the doctor’s office. It was as if he couldn’t handle the thoughts in his head and they had to come out. As he spouted story after story, feeling after feeling, he made a statement that I’m still trying to process days later. He said that he has these feelings and thoughts that take over and he can’t stop thinking about them until he acts on them – things that make him want to do things that are dangerous, harmful to others, and scary. He admitted to actions that I had no idea about, things that he had previously kept hidden or blamed on others.
Ok, these are the moments that make you question becoming a parent, let’s be honest! There are days where I just sit there and wonder if I’m harboring future predators and serial killers (this increases the nail biting and hair picking by about a million percent) and then there are other days when I remind myself that it is RAD, brain damage, learned behavior – that they have a therapist, mostly sane parents, and a very big God. Those are the days that I remember to breathe as I push thoughts of felonies from my mind.
And then there’s Isaac. The sweet boy who is quickly fading under the perpetual weighty exposure of drugs, abuse, sex, and instability. With each new update on his condition, each failure of the police or CYS to rescue him, each broken Christmas toy and returned birthday gift – I am devastatingly aware that he was the one that was left behind. Cameron and Taylor were saved, even if it may have been too late. But Isaac is just a number – a statistic of gross negligence from society who wants to be helped but is quickly learning that help will not come. At least not for him. However… his smile is still a sight to behold. When I catch a glimpse of a new picture and see a hint of the twinkle that I remember so well, I feel a warmth spread through my soul. He is not a number to me.
So, on those days that my kids are fugueing up my very last nerve, I choose to remember the moments that have been special – like when Cameron thought Wyatt was having hallucinations because he was talking to himself (aka, using his imagination), or when Taylor asked us at kids’ church to pray for all the children who didn’t get cute boots for Christmas like she did, or when Wyatt told me he would be my best friend forever if I gave him some Doritos (followed by screams that I’m a “bad girl” because I didn’t give him Doritos), or when I think of Isaac’s belly laugh, the one that will never leave my mind, even though I’m sure he would wreak just as much havoc as the others if he were here with us today!
Despite the nonsensical arguments, the nail biting, and the split end picking, there is a beautiful and slightly distorted, off-key composition taking place in our home. Whether it’s a day of putting in ear plugs or choosing to sing along to the chaos, I know that our music will continue to grow and change – our everlasting fugue.