Earlier this morning:
Giddy and giggly, J is getting dressed for school.
Me- “Today is Monday.”
J- (still giggling and giddy) “MONDAY!”
Me- “Remember I told you about today? We’re going to do the thing where people ask you about us?”
J- (stops giggling. Giddy no more.) “Monday.”
Me- “Yes. Remember? We’re going to your guardianship hearing?”
J stands quietly, intently looking at me. Slow-spreading concern took over his handsome face. Wah-waaaah!
Me- “No, J. There’s no reason to worry. There is no doctor there. There is no dentist. There are no nurses. This is just the judge and the lawyer and us.”
J- (hits his head softly) Wah-waaah
Me- “I promise it will be fine.”
J- (looking at me with his head slightly tilted) “Fine?”
Off to school he went. We figured waiting at home would raise the anxiety level unnecessarily. At 10:30 we went to pick him up, and it seems no one had looked at the comm book because it took them a while to bring him out. When J climbed back into the car, we reminded him that this was a good thing, and that there were no doctors or needles involved.
When we got to the courthouse, J’s main concern was making sure there were no doctors, dentists, nurses or needles in the whole building. We did our best to reassure him, and he calmly sat with his iPad while we waited. When we got called in, J accepted our invitation to take his hats and his jacket off. I think the set up in the room made him realize there was no threat of medical intervention, and he relaxed.
It all turned out just fine. The hearing was brief, but thorough. They asked questions, we answered them, and J was calm (if a little vocal) during the whole thing. The high point, we agreed later on as we drove home -all the tribe piled into our van-, was when we swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and J high-fived all of us. Not even the commissioner could keep a straight face at this time, and the mood in the room became lively and much less tense.
I think we came across as a family. A family that wants to keep being a family and taking care of the center of our small universe. When we got home, J was relaxed, happy and very affectionate…I think he knows what was said in that room. I think he understands that we can be trusted to hold his heart in our hands, even if -from time to time- we have to decide things that are not particularly pleasant for a brief time.
We learned two things during the hearing: J’s attorney has a nephew who is autistic, and the commissioner has a friend whose child is autistic. Aside from the mounds of paperwork they had before them, and which they had reviewed closely, the evidence of J’s disability was easy to see. We came across as people who take this individual seriously, and I made sure (so the record will forever show it) that J is blessed to have Dada in his life. I explained how this wonderful man chose to take on the responsibility of a child who had already been diagnosed, and how he has loved our children from the very first moment and through all subsequent ones. J looked at us as we both spoke to the commissioner and answered the attorney’s questions. J smiled throughout, and he immediately came to both of us as the hearing ended and we headed to the clerk’s office for the last part of the process.
How did we become parents? It can be argued that, at the end of a 38 week period, I became J’s mother by virtue of giving him life. I don’t think that’s when it happened. I think, somehow, Dada and I became parents together. I was a “mom” before then, but it was with Dada that I faced the greater complexities of the parenting process. TGG spoke clearly and did a wonderful job of showing how we have influenced him over the years; we are both ridiculously proud of these “boys” that have aged us, made us gray, given us headaches and satisfactions. We were parents to them and now, thanks to this little legal dance we did today, we are parents on steroids. Our obligations haven’t changed, but there’s a weight to them that we will carry until we pass the torch because we’re too old, too feeble, too frail…
I think J knows that something “huge” happened today. I think he knows we mean well and will continue to do the best we can for him. I think he knows we tell the truth and roll up our sleeves. We told the truth about the tooth. He trusted us, and we pulled through. He knows he is loved.
One less thing on the “forever to do” list…and here we go to the next thing…