My six year old son was born with multiple heart defects, one of which is very rare. It is called Cor Triatrium Dexter and has to do with the trabeculated anterior, sinoatrial orifice, crista terminalis, and the super-cali-fragil-istic-expi-ali-docious.
Basically, the right side of his heart is jacked up.
For the first year of his life, he was cyanotic a lot. For people who are fortunate enough not to understand that term…it means that he was blue. He often had discolored skin around his mouth, which was a constant reminder that his blood didn’t have enough oxygen in it.
When he was 13 months old, he had angioplasty and valvuloplasty. This wasn’t because he was eating too much butter and bacon, but rather because this one weird defect had created a blockage, and that’s why he looked like Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
The benefit of the surgery was that he suddenly had energy he never had before. The downside is, that in stretching out the valve the cardiologist created a leak. Not because he messed up, but because that is what happens when you expand a valve.
And that means in the near future my kid will need open heart surgery.
One good thing? Well, he’s always been too young to understand just how messed up his ticker really is. He knows there is something different about him…and how could he not? He may as well have a stethoscope permanently affixed to his chest. But, we never talk to him about having any limitations.
The other night, we saw that he has grasped what we’ve been telling him all along. Because when my daughter was upset and crying hard (Note to Dad: Let’s not tell the nine year old that someday her dog will die), my son walked over to his sister and said, “It’s okay. Don’t cry. I love you. I love you with all of my special heart.”
And if that doesn’t warm your cockles, I don’t know what will.
Two days ago, we attended our niece’s wedding in Virginia. The ceremony and reception were held at a beautiful and exclusive resort on the banks of the James River. I’m pretty sure they wanted to turn us away at the gate, because our Cadillac wasn’t fancy enough.
The bride and the guests were gorgeous, decked out in clothes so fabulous that the sunset paled in comparison. Following the ceremony, the wedding party had photographs taken while we were treated to scrumptious hors d’oeuvres in truly lovely surroundings.
After finding out I have a love for something called “mushroom cigars” and even more love for something called an “open bar”, it was time for the reception.
As we left the riverbank and stepped inside to the five-course, sit-down dinner, I grabbed my son’s hand and told my daughter to follow behind.
We entered on the far end of the hall and zig-zagged through the crowd, looking for the table number that matched our place card. I nodded politely and said, “Excuse me”, numerous times as the three of us wiggled around the room.
Little did I know that I should have been excusing my son’s behavior, not mine, because when we arrived at our table my daughter said, “Mom! Your son smacked the butt of every person we passed by!”
My daughter just returned home from a three-day trip to my Mom’s house. I figured it would be good for my kid to have some time alone with her Grandma.
Grandma reported that her youngest grand-daughter was polite, helpful, and easy to get along with, and that they had a wonderful time together. In fact, it was so wonderful that my Mom said, “I asked her if she wanted to move in with me.”
I laughed, knowing full well that my daughter would have none of that. My Mom doesn’t own a Wii…or even a computer. The horrors.
I asked, “What did she say?”
Proud Grandma replied, “Well, she said she’d love to! But, I told her she would miss you guys too much. And, do you know what she said to that?”
“No,” I answered hesitantly. What?”
“She said that as long as she had a picture of you and could occasionally see you on weekends, she’d be just fine.”
When I was my daughter’s age there were two things I wanted more than anything. A turtle and a paper route. What? A turtle seemed like a reasonable pet and a paper route seemed a decent way to earn enough money to play Pac-Man at the Pizza Pizza Restaurant up the street. You’ll never guess what kind of food they served.
My Mom wouldn’t let me have a turtle, but after many tears and tantrums, she caved into the paper route. It lasted about two months before I quit. But, I would have been so disappointed had I not had the experience.
My nine year old daughter has recently had her first run-in with real disappointment. A person we thought was very kind, has chosen to hurt someone we love dearly. I won’t get into the details, as juicy as they may be, because that is not the point. I will say there is hurt, there is back-stabbing, and there are attorneys.
But, the details don’t apply. My child was deceived, and that is all that matters.
This deception wasn’t by another child, but by an adult. Someone who made herself out to be sweet and caring. Someone who spoke to my daughter with affection and attentiveness. Someone who made herself out to be someone she obviously is not.
How do you explain that to a nine year old? How do you instill good morals when there are people in your life who have none? How do you teach your children to trust people, when those whom you’ve trusted are completely untrustworthy?
I really don’t know what to say to her. I don’t know how to explain that what she saw is not what she gets. That the person she thought she knew, was not that person at all.
My daughter doesn’t deserve that kind of disappointment. At an age when she’s still fascinated by rainbows, these are the true colors I’d rather she not see.