I’m only human. But I’ve been trying my absolute hardest to be better than only human. I think my exhaustion has caught up with me and patience is wearing thin.
Exhibit A – Text to my dad: I don’t know what the fuck to do with this kid. I’ve taken him out all day everyday and it’s never enough. He doesn’t want to be at home but any suggestion I made he says no.
Exhibit B – Death wish: We drove around for hours, including a trip to one bowling alley, which was deemed to crowded, and another bowling alley, which was allegedly even more crowded. This sucks, he said. There’s people everywhere. There were less than three cars in each bowling alley’s parking lots. I got back on the highway and it took all the strength I had not to drive us straight into the guard rail. Maybe that will take up some time, I thought, what with the ambulance coming, a trip to the hospital, etc. Or, maybe better yet, we’d both die and not have to deal with this situation anymore.
Exhibit C – Cry #3: We finally ended up at my friends’ house to visit their family for a little bit before his appointment with his caseworker. He was grumpy and I was trying to be bright and cheerful to get him out of his funk. We parked at their house and he got out of the car as I grabbed my phone and bag. “Well,” he snapped at me. “Are you coming?” I stood and looked at him–he on the sidewalk, me next to the car. I was frozen in place because I knew if I made even a micro-movement, I would lunge at him. Because he was rude. Because I had given up every second of every day for a week to him. Because he got everything he wanted all the time or else he’d throw a tantrum. But Takkin sensed something explosive in me, and softened a bit. “Are you ready to go inside sister?” I broke from my trance and we rang the doorbell together. As soon as I saw my friends, they hugged me, and I started crying because I never wanted to let go. It all of a sudden dawned on me how much I needed even a modicum of support, of which I’d had none this whole week. I wanted to collapse. Those hugs brought me back to life.
I chatted with my friends and played a little with their kids while Takkin talked and laughed and seemed to enjoy being there. Pretty soon it was time for us to leave for his appointment with his caseworker. “They’re so nice,” he said as we got into the car. His mood was completely different; a true Jekyll and Hyde situation if ever there was one.
“I haven’t seen him like this in a long time,” said his caseworker a few minutes into his session. It’s true: he was laughing and joking and in great spirits. It was a complete turnaround from the week before where he’d been sullen and agitated, waiting for my father to depart on his trip. “What is different?” his caseworker asked. I told her about the increase in medication, the consistent schedule we had been on, the help from the tutors, the mini trips we’d taken, and the activities I’d been doing with him.
“You’re not moving back from Chicago…right?” the caseworker asked.
The million dollar question.
If I moved back from Chicago, my life would no longer be my own. I would be sucked into the vortex that is Takkin’s life–organizing appointments and meetings, keeping a schedule for him, caring for him, coaxing him out into public. I’d be working two full-time jobs: managing editor and keeper of my brother.
I smiled weakly and shook my head no. The caseworker nodded; I’m sure she’d seen that sad smile many times before. But we both know what will happen come Friday when I get on a plane back to O’Hare and my mom comes to take over his care. All the good I’ve done, all the schedules and consistency I’ve provided, all the intake assessments and forms I’ve followed through on will swiftly disappear. As I was making dinner, Takkin called my mom and was rude and aggressive with her on the phone. He hung up and I recommended he text her and apologize for acting that way. He did. She asked him what we were planning on doing tonight, and he said maybe watch a movie. You should watch a funny movie, she texted back. You should watch “La Chevre.”
A sophisticated French movie.
And complex themes.
Is what she recommended.
For her developmentally delayed, ADHD son.
Has she ever even met her son????????
For all the times I complain and get annoyed with Takkin, say things like he always gets what he wants and we all have to serve him and he’s just spoiled, it’s little comments like “La Chevre” that make me realize, this poor kid has got so few competent people working on his behalf. Don’t get me wrong, he is loved, but unfortunately most of those people are completely inept and out of touch with reality and can’t seem to make the right choices that will serve his best interests in the long-run.
He doesn’t always get what he wants; he never gets what he wants when it means something real.
We aren’t all serving him; we’re just barely tending to his most basic human needs, if that.
He isn’t spoiled; he was never given the tools to grow into a reasonable person.
When we were visiting my friends and their two children this afternoon, I saw how the parents interacted with the kids. They were kind and loving, but firm with boundaries and rules. Their house was filled with warmth and color and sounds of laughter. I remember none of that from our childhoods.
Takkin was always going to be born with developmental delay; he was always going to have mental illness set in during his early 20s–these things are genetic, an inevitability, there was no changing that. But things didn’t have to turn out this way for him, he had a chance to live a happy, healthy, normal-ish life.
That window is closing, and I feel like I might be the only one keeping a sliver of it open. And when the weight of that window gets to be too much… will I find some deep well of strength I didn’t know I had, or will I let it slam shut and walk away?
I think I know the answer. But I’m too scared to say it aloud.