Buddy and me and the boy

ImageI have a secret to tell you about Buddy the Wonder Dog, and it has nothing to do with poop or socks. But first let me tell about a cathartic moment I had yesterday.

I was going through the morning epic ritual of getting the younger kids ready for school, and we had 10 minutes remaining till departure time. The Pterodactyl likes me to write things down for him, so he was carrying around an index card reading SHOES TEETH HAIR FACE. But he and the Tyrant kept getting distracted by the costume accessories we had bought the previous evening at the Halloween store. The Pterodactyl has chosen to be an Evil Warlock this year. “Honey, that’s perfect for you,” I said, because he doesn’t understand irony yet.

The kids were playing with the glow-in-the-dark plastic scythe that’s part of his costume, the one I will schlep around Halloween night because he’ll want to bring it trick-or-treating but won’t want to carry it. I am the Family Schlepper.

The kids finally finished getting ready; I checked to make sure the Tyrant was wearing underwear, and the clock edged closer to the time to leave. The kids played. I watched the clock. My heart raced. The kids played. The scythe swiped near somebody’s eye. “STOP THAT,” I screeched. The kids laughed. My breathing quickened. The girl stood on a chair and danced. “GET DOWN FROM THERE,” I snapped. The kids played. I watched the clock. I breathed deeply to calm myself.

I realized with sudden clarity that I was waiting for something to happen, as though a violent altercation was imminent, or perhaps a fiery explosion, and I was the only one with the fire hose. My kids are playing, I thought. They are doing kid things. And I can’t fucking stand it because I’m so afraid it’s going to end badly.

And that’s when I understood that I do indeed have a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I’ve been so conditioned – by years of the boy’s tantrums and meltdowns – to expect every moment to end with flailing limbs and broken spirits that I can’t enjoy the fact that life is better now.

I walked the kids to the bus stop and watched them as they crossed the street to climb aboard. The boy always runs to his seat so he can lower the window and stick his little arm out to wave for as long as he can see me, and I waved back.

On the way home I thought about Buddy the Wonder Dog. He’s still in training, but he’s an actual service dog now. He goes with me everywhere – to the gym, the grocery, Target. Recently he and I met a friend out for drinks and he sat under the bar for two hours. He’s my brown furry shadow.

He gets a lot of attention, and people always ask me if I’m training him, and what he’s trained to do. I’ve tried out a plethora of answers: Yes, I’m training him but he’s mine. He’s an autism assistance dog for my son who’s not autistic. He’s a psychiatric service dog. When the Pterodactyl is with me, it’s more difficult to answer, so I’ve taken to saying, He’s in training to be my son’s best friend.

Eventually, Buddy is supposed to go everywhere with my son, and help him feel centered when his anxiety heightens. But we’re behind on our work with the official trainer, what with us selling our house and having no place to go.

So here’s the secret part. Buddy indeed will one day be my boy’s best friend. But in the meantime – SHHH – he’s mine.

1 response to Buddy and me and the boy

  1. Carol Harris says:

    Nevermind Tricia– Got it! You have a gift with language all right! Thank you,as always, for enhancing my appreciation of what it takes to raise children! Carol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.