There are three things you’ll typically hear in my household on any given day or night:
“Caleb! Is it (his chin) dry? C’mon Caleb, swallow your saliva, please. Look, your bib’s
Night: “Caleb! Come and shh-shh (pee) now before bedtime. Then wear your diaper properly before you get into bed. Be sure it’s pulled up snugged and tight.”
Morning: “Get up Caleb, your diaper’s leaked onto the sheets!”
“Caleb, we need to see more white (bath gel lather) on your shoulders…rub harder before you wash it off…Caleb, listen and towel-rub harder; your legs are still dripping wet!”
These are our “daily companions”, thanks to our dear son Caleb.
One of the most frustrating things for me his dad is the fact that I just can’t figure out why…
1…he’s still refusing to swallow his saliva despite endless reminders from his grandparents, parents, sibling, and cousins, aunts, uncles; not to mention school teachers and classmates.
In short, everyone who knows him.
And in this season of Covid-19, it just makes it even more imperative that he exercises better control over his drooling. But true to form, our dear friend still ‘lets the good times flow’ with his never-ending drool that soaks any face mask thoroughly within half an hour of putting it on!
2…he still can’t “hold his own” until he reaches a toilet. It’s why our nightly routine is about getting him to go one more time before putting on a diaper and turning in.
And still, by the next morning, the diaper is heavy with you-know-what, and some days, when his flow is particularly strong, we’ll have to contend with soiled bedsheets and blankets!
Thankfully it’s been a lot better these last couple of years, and the leaks only happen once in a couple of months or more. But just as a precaution, we will usually transfer him to a rubber mattress laid out on the floor next to his bed just before the sun rises each morning.
Just in case.
I mean, it’s fine and dandy if he’s a baby. But he’s not. And how many “niners-going-on-ten” do you know who still dons a diaper?!
3…he continues to stand almost ‘helpless’ in the shower, as though waiting for us to bathe him like he was still a baby.
We have to always get into the shower room with him to watch and make sure he starts dirty but ends up clean. Otherwise, all he will do is either break into a song or re-enact some dialogue between the cartoon characters he recently watched on the telly or Youtube.
All the while standing and staring at the showerhead, instead of turning on the tap. As though the tap operates by voice command!
Other times, he’ll role-play the Google map voiceover, giving directions to the shampoo bottle (?) how to get from point A to point B: “In three kilometers, turn right…slight left, then your destination is on your right.”
At this point, I have an inkling of what you’re thinking, so please let me make one thing clear: We really have exhausted nearly all possible reasons, medical and otherwise, so this isn’t a post pleading for more magic potions or angel’s feathers.
Caleb has managed to defy definition with pretty much every appointment, therapy and medication we ‘threw’ at him in our increasingly futile attempts to find out why.
In our attempts to turn the tide.
About the only thing left is the threat of bodily harm, but no matter how angry a parent I can become, that’s one line I won’t cross. Though God knows I’ve often come close. Too close.
I think I’ve come to a point where I’m learning that these daily challenges with Caleb are part of my ongoing journey towards accepting him for all that he is.
Even the bibs, diapers, and supervised showers.
You see, as I watch each time with mounting exasperation at all these ‘wet signs and wonders’ of Caleb, I have to fight hard to stay cool and not lose my temper.
For I realize that if I can’t accept these challenges (which might still not go away for a long while), but continue to harp on them to a point that all day I’m just ‘managing’ behavior and having a tug-of-war with him, then what kind of genuine relationship am I building with him?
Where is there time left every day if, after all these reminders, I’m too spent to do anything else with him? Time to play with him, read with him, share life with him?
And when he grows up, will memories of his dad be filled with just those rants I shared at the start of this post?
If so, then I would have missed learning the important lesson of acceptance.
And we would both be the poorer for it.