As I have explained in previous blog entries, I have been blessed to be able to teach on a part-time basis since Alex was born so that I can be home with him in the afternoon. An added blessing is that Ed is able to arrange his schedule as a college professor to teach afternoon and evening classes, allowing him to be home with Alex in the morning while I’m at work. I’m sure that some of my colleagues wonder what I do all afternoon while they’re still teaching, but I keep plenty busy dealing with Alex. Besides home schooling him, I find that I spend quite a bit of time fulfilling his special requests. In some ways, he’s like a giant toddler (Although I’m quite thankful that he’s a potty-trained one!) who relies upon me to help him because his poor fine motor skills make some tasks quite difficult for him. Unlike most young men his age, he still needs his mommy. Fortunately, he has learned to ask nicely for my help, which makes waiting on him a more pleasant responsibility.
One of the tasks Alex requests of me involves finding things. Since our house is usually fairly organized, I’m not certain why he has trouble finding his belongings. On the other hand, I sometimes need to find things for his father, as well, so perhaps this is a genetic and/or learned helplessness. I sometimes wonder if both of them enjoy watching me dig through drawers, sort through papers, or crawl under beds looking for lost items. In fact, I suspect that they sometimes deliberately hide things to send me on wild goose chases or to see if I can, indeed, maintain my reputation as the finder of lost things. Nonetheless, I am quite good at finding things, and Alex knows this. Most recently, he has asked me to find his tape measure, his dictionary, and “picture of Little Alex,” a photograph of him taken when he was in preschool that he carries around as a treasure. After I quickly located all of these items for Alex, he went on his merry way, measuring, looking up words, and reminiscing about himself at age four, at least until the next time he misplaced his things and needed my help again.
Another important role I play is that of Alex’s personal chef. While Alex has always had a good appetite for a variety of foods, one of his new favorite pastimes is to sit and think about random foods he’d like me to prepare for him. One of his favorite requests is meatloaf, the only food he likes as much—“one hundred percent”—as his beloved shrimp. To keep within his gluten-free and milk-free diet, I make his meatloaf with gluten-free rice breadcrumbs, a simple substitution for regular breadcrumbs. Unlike Randy, the little brother in the movie A Christmas Story, who hates meatloaf, proclaiming, “Meatloaf, beet loaf, I hate meatloaf!!”, Alex loves meatloaf and would probably eat it every day if I made if for him that often. This past week, he had another special menu request: cupcakes. Again, his special diet requires a few adjustments so that he can eat the foods he wants. Fortunately, Betty Crocker’s gluten-free yellow cake mix can be made with dairy-free margarine as a tasty treat, especially when iced with Duncan Hines classic vanilla frosting, which is also gluten-free and dairy-free. As a special treat, my mom made these cupcakes for Alex this week, adding maraschino cherries on top as a bonus, and he was delighted.
Aside from Alex’s appetite for food, he also has a hunger for knowledge, and lately he has been including me in his quest for information. Even though Alex is a whiz at using search engines to find information online, he has been asking me to “check out” topics he finds interesting, including such varied topics as bathroom scales, the NFL draft, grass, blue moons, and digital clocks. I think he enjoys doing this research with me as a shared activity. This also goes along with his recent daily request that Ed or I “visit in Alex’s room.” Instead of wanting to be alone, he likes hanging out with us. Moreover, he likes us to take care of him. Last night, he asked me to take his blood pressure. Although he and I both know his blood pressure is excellent, I think he liked the idea of having me act as his nurse. Similarly, he often asks Ed and me to “tuck you [me—he still reverses his pronouns] back in.” Alex is quite capable of pulling up his own covers in bed, but I think our doing this for him gives him a great sense of comfort, as it does a young child. When we make him feel physically secure by making certain he’s wrapped in his blankets, he seems to feel emotionally secure, as well. The night before last, he awakened me at 12:30 A.M. and 5:30 A.M. to tuck him back in bed. I really think he needed me to reassure him that everything was all right more than he actually needed me to replace the covers. Since he asked nicely, smiled sweetly when I tucked him in, and went right back to sleep, I didn’t mind the interruptions of my sleep. I wish that wrapping a blanket around him and kissing his forehead could solve all of Alex’s problems in life. I’m just thankful that simple actions can bring him comfort and that he knows Ed and I will do everything in our power to make him feel safe and secure.
“And since we know He hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us what we ask for.” I John 5:15