Of all the things you learn early on when you have a child with special needs, the amount of paper that will come your way, will require review, and will stick to you like gum on your shoe is the one thing that never ceases to impress…
After the sudden appearance of, and in spite of the absolute inaccessibility to, some of the child support J’s biological father owes, we are now under a deluge of paper and phone calls with Social Security. It doesn’t matter if J can’t access that money (short of flying out to an ATM that accepts the card, and withdrawing it,) this money represents income for March (which J has to slowly re-pay to Social Security, and a resource while it remains in that account. No amount of explaining or trying to reason with a government agency (either where the money comes from, or here) has led anywhere…so we’re at an impasse.
Heaven forbid we should ever GET that money because if the “idea” of it is wreaking havoc, the “reality” would make the world implode, I guess. You may ask WHY we can’t get the money, and my only answer is that I have no one I can trust to receive the card, extract the money and actually convey it to J.
One of the ways we have of making this money disappear, as it were, is by finally proceeding with Dada’s adoption of J. This is easier said than done: because J cannot “consent,” we have several hoops to jump through. At least, or so he says NOW, J’s biological father is willing to do whatever is required of him to make this happen. The cost of the whole thing, of course, is yet another thing we have to juggle.
I spent the morning wading through binders full of receipts so I can complete yet another report of J’s expenses over the course of the past year. My head is swimming in numbers, and I think I got a brain cramp a while ago. I’ve revisited J’s whole financial year, and I can see that his food habits have changed significantly, and that he now buys more books for entertainment than movies.
Yesterday was a no-school day (isn’t it funny how J’s vocabulary, or -rather- his way of understanding things seeps into our lingo?) so we enjoyed the lovely weather outside on the patio. A second- (or third-) hand table someone gave us a few months ago was refurbished over the weekend, and J now has a nice solid surface to place his iPad on while he sits out there. TGG had chosen a rather bright turquoise shade, and it happens to fit in perfectly with the decor J has chosen; it contrasts with the teak of the rocking chair, picks up a stripe from the cushion, and pops nicely against the white privacy wall. J loves it!
Yesterday was also haircut-day. In honor of the occasion, J happily parked himself in front of the mirror, held the trash can and grabbed chunks of cut hair to throw away. Moving his head from side to side, he would check how well I was doing. He was, thankfully, happy with the result, and asked for less of a sideburn than he’d been requesting a few months ago. Let’s face it, he had the Brian Setzer vibe going for a while, and I guess he realized that it was starting to encroach on the goatee. So we shortened the sideburns, and we trimmed the mustache and goatee to a manageable length…it left us with more of J’s face visible, and we took a picture to send Dada (who was at work because not everyone gets as many days off as J does.)
At that moment it struck me…I pulled out a picture from early in November, and I e-mailed them to Dada…side by side. The change in J’s face is noticeable when looked at in this fashion. We simply had not truly noticed how much his face has slimmed down because we see him every single day, and we are used to his looks. Trust me: J is considerably slimmer.
Now, I am the type of person who needs empirical proof of these things, so I weighed him, measured how tall he is, and then looked at the pictures again. J has definitely lost thirty pounds, not grown enough in height to make him appear more slender than he is, and his face has definitely lost that “full moon” thing it had going on before we started this new approach to food.
Slow and steady wins the race. Little by little we make progress. Drop by drop the bucket gets filled. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And all this paper will be processed, filled out, submitted, accepted, reviewed, regenerated in yet another guise. And another legal process will begin, go up and down and round and round, and we’ll figure it out.
That’s what we do…we commit to a child and it’s not the clear-cut process that some envision when their heads are full of the romanticism of parenthood. We commit to a child and they are more than just the being we love; they are a patient, a student, a consumer, a legal entity, a sibling, a passenger, a liability, an asset… But we commit to a child because we love that child, and we will do what we do every day, and we will figure out whatever entanglements arise along the way…
It’s what we do…and to all the trees that are felled year after year in the name of this paper trail we call J, our beloved son, I apologize on this Earth Day. Rest assured I no more enjoy the bulky envelopes, the paper cuts, the pointless ring-around-the-rosie than I would taking an axe to a mighty tree trunk.
The bees are back; the spinach has sprouted, as has the lettuce. We see more sunshine and leaves than we did a few weeks ago, and we’ll soon be done with one round of paperwork to leave the opening for the next round. This is the tedium of parenting…the rest (even at its worst) is a lot less boring and frustrating. Well…maybe…