Jeff and I saw a good movie called Mud on our date this weekend. Aside from the creepy couple sitting next to us (old man/young woman) and someone shouting out loud once in the theatre (post-Aurora, this really freaked me and pretty much everyone around me out), I really enjoyed this coming of age film.
It was about family relationships and second chances and having the courage to try again to make something of your messed up life. The Alabama adolescent characters Ellis and Neck Bone were terrific. It felt a little like a Mississippi River present-day variation of Stand By Me.
Early in the movie, Ellis and Neck Bone use walkie talkies to meet up for some early morning exploring. It’s funny how a ten-second shot of a boy on a hand-held radio could transport me instantly back five years to when Charlie was a newborn, Jack was a preschooler who felt like six preschoolers, and Henry was a big, brave, adventuresome six-year-old.
Henry wanted to explore and play outside with friends and not be tied down by his mom and two little brothers who couldn’t come along and play with him. But seriously, he was six. So Jeff fished around in his electronics menagerie and found a solution.
We handed H a radio. I tuned mine to the same frequency and we were set. While nursing the baby or giving Jack his afternoon sensory bath, I would periodically press the button on my radio and ask, “Henry, where are you? Over.”
“I’m on Thayne’s hill. Over,” came Henry’s prompt reply, letting me know he was two houses up the street, playing in our neighbors’ front yard with a pack of kids.
We wore out a couple of sets of radios in the following months when Charlie was tiny and Jack was adjusting badly to having a younger sibling.
It may have looked a little strange, but our radios were a low-tech solution to a difficult family situation.
On our date this weekend, Jeff reminded me over dinner that the current difficulties with a certain boy will surely improve. Like with the walkie talkies of yesteryear, times change and kids change, and different solutions will present themselves to help us muddle through.
In the movie, Ellis evolves from seeing situations and people in absolute black & white terms, to beginning to understand their nuances. I similarly find myself trying to remember that my strenuous life as a mother of four, including two who have special-needs, and one who is one-year-old (and thus a menace to his own well-being) is not a permanent state.
While various diagnoses are tripping us up pretty nicely in our daily living, they are not the finale. We are more than a little bit crazy in this household, but we just keep plugging away, people. We aren’t finished yet.
Syndromes, autism, anxiety, developmental delays, and social/emotional concerns? Yep, got it. Code Browns, sleep disturbances, and meltdowns over transitions? All part of the daily routine.
We’re our own brand of weird.
It is exhausting being this unique. But it’s temporary. Our buttoned-up lifestyle of school and therapy and doctors and poop and unreasonable fears won’t always be exactly like this.
It will change: like the walkie talkies which did their time and served their purpose, and like Mud, the man who made mistakes but doggedly moved on and made a new start.
It may move with glacial slowness, but times they are a changing. I can deal with it. Just don’t mess with my bedtime or my date night, and we will all emerge (relatively) unscathed.