I sat here for about ten minutes this morning, staring at my boys’ closed bedroom doors. My eldest was in his room getting dressed to go to the doctor. My youngest was still asleep, reaping the benefits of summer vacation. I kept staring at these doors, thinking about how in the very near future, Holden’s door will stay permanently closed while he’s at college. Then, two years later, a repeat with Harrison. I’ve been very nostalgic lately. I think it’s the fact that during this whole remodeling process, I’ve had to take into consideration that my guys are older and needs change. Holden got the smaller bedroom, because his full-time days at home are dwindling. Harrison wanted his bedroom in a certain place for more privacy.
Yesterday, at Holden’s college orientation, each speaker commented on how a new chapter is beginning in our students’ lives. The VP of Student Affairs even said, “Close the door on your students’ childhood and open the door to the next phase in their lives.” They spoke over and over about how they are now adults and we should treat them as such. That’s difficult for a parent, isn’t it? It’s such a fine line we walk between letting them fly, even though they may fall off that branch once or twice. And holding their hand so nothing bad happens to them and we are there to break the fall. I’ve tried to give my boys a firm runway for their take-off into adulthood. But, you never really know, do you? Will they remember the things I taught them? Will they succumb to peer pressure and make stupid decisions? I have eight short weeks to come to terms with sending my eldest off into the world. The boy who has been a dichotomy since birth. The one that INFURIATES me to no end, yet makes me so proud that I feel like I’m going to burst at the seams.
When I got pregnant with Holden, I was a scared college student with no desire for kids….at all. I had a horrible pregnancy and very serious health issues. When they finally decided to take him a few weeks early, because of my deadly high blood pressure, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with him. It was a scary time. But, from day one, I knew he was different. He never cried. He never wanted to sleep. He wasn’t a bad baby, just liked to sit and look around all the time. Since this was my first experience, I wasn’t sure if this was abnormal or not, but my mom and my pediatrician assured me that he was fine. As soon as he could sit up and then crawl around, he would explore. He would take things apart and just stare at them. He seemed so aware at such a young age. Then, the growth spurt happened. He got huge….fast! I also noticed slight oddities in his behavior from early on, he would tug at the feet of his footy pj’s constantly and at his long sleeves. so, I bought short sleeve shirts and threw out the pj’s with the feet in. He would sit with books at age 18 months and I would swear he understood them. Then, at age 2 1/2, while driving down the road, out of nowhere, he started reading the road signs. Now, when your two and a half year old son, in a car seat starts reading to you…..well, let’s just say, it’s amazing I didn’t crash my car.
When we got home, I gave him some of his books, just toddler books with short sentences, and he read them to me. I was gobsmacked. I started schooling him a few weeks later. We did math and reading, spelling, history and science. He was a virtual sponge, soaking it all up and retaining. Around the age of 4, he went to pre-school and could read to the students. They started picking on him, so he stopped. I bought a 5th grade workbook one day, just to test him. He got about 85% of the questions correct. His pre-school teacher was exasperated and, to be honest, not helpful at all, because Holden was so far out of the norm, that she had no idea what to do with him. I enrolled him in Kindergarten, but knew I was in trouble when on orientation night, he walked over to his new teacher and asked, “Could you please tell me where the laboratory is?” Needless to say, public school Kindergarten lasted 3 weeks. His school recommended he be put into third grade, but I refused and brought him home to be home-schooled.
I took him to a child psychiatrist and he was diagnosed as profoundly gifted with an off the charts IQ. The doctor told me that Holden would have as hard a time in the “real world” as someone with mental retardation would. He also thought Holden had Asperger’s and recommended further testing. We were short on funds at the time, so we never took the money to pursue that diagnosis. But, as the years have rolled on, I see more and more signs that there is, indeed, something just not right with that amazing brain of his.
And that is where I struggle most. I struggle, because when you look at him and his 6’9″ frame….yes, he really is that big!! You would think that he was far beyond his years, both physically and mentally. But, then, when you live with him, you see this childlike behavior that just never goes away, even now that he is 18. He can do the hardest math problem in the world, but can’t figure out how to open his new closet doors. He can explain string theory to me as a five year old, but couldn’t figure out how to ties his shoelaces until he was 12. He truly is a walking, living, breathing dichotomy. So, how do I as his mom close that door on his childhood, when I see the child in him still? My husband tells me that I need to let him become a man and if he falls, he falls. That we will be there to help him pick up the pieces, but he needs to do it on his own. I get that, but it feels like it will be impossible for me to do. How will I sit here three hours from him and not worry? Not wonder if his clothes match? If he’s not wearing his shorts and sandals in a blizzard? That the other students aren’t making fun or taking advantage of the oddities that make him Holden? I guess, in my own time, I will learn to cope. I will learn how to live behind these new closed doors and how to look into the new one that’s now opening, just a crack, and see the light pouring through.