Wildflowers for Jade: Just Jaden

Friday, October 8, 2010

Just Jaden

My son doesn’t like to be called a “big boy”. It’s not incentive for switching from diapers to underwear, or to try new foods in Feeding Therapy. It’s not praise for accomplishing something that was hard.
“I NOT a big boy!” he cries.
“What are you, then?”  I ask. “Are you a baby?”
“No! I’m Jaden. Just Jaden.”

Jaden likes to put his towel over his head and pretend that he’s a ghost, and I pretend that I’m scared. Then he pulls the towel off and says calmly “It’s just Jaden, Mommy.”

It took a lot of work just to get Jaden to answer the question “What’s your name?”  Now he says it proudly. Repeatedly. Hit himself in the chest with enough force to make me wince and leans forward. “I’m Jaden!”

He’s confident that that’s enough. If I’ve done one thing right out of the multitudes of screw-ups and wrong choices, it’s that I have managed to instill in him self-confidence. He’s bursting at the seams with it.

Tonight he painted a little wooden leaf I bought from Hobby Lobby. All I did was open 3 colors and handed him the paint brushes. I watched how much he’s progressed as he remembers – this time without my prompting – that he can dip the brush in for more paint when the brush runs dry. He turns the leaf over and paints the backside, too, little tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth in his classic look of concentration. My praise and joy are genuine as I exalt “You’re such a little artist!”
“I’m Jaden,” he replied.
“You can be Jaden and an artist at the same time. ‘Artist’ means someone who likes to paint.”
His brows furrowed as he repeated my last sentence several times. I could almost feel the protest still rolling in his head. I don’t know how much he understood.

It’s been 14 months since I’ve moved into my own little spot of “my child has special needs” hell. 1 ½ months since diagnosis. We have our regular therapies and are working on integrating more therapies. There’s 2 different medical appointments scheduled with a promise of more. I constantly deal with all the nagging, clawing questions of the future. How will he function? Will he be able to take care of himself? Will he be happy?

Maybe on some level he understands the tension in me, it’s almost as if he knows I need the reminder.

“I’m just Jaden, Mommy.”

Yes you are, baby. I wouldn’t change that for the world.

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