‘Round The Fire Stories For Boys

Aug 17, 2023 at 3:19 am
‘Round The Fire  Stories For Boys

I always find myself in some kind of void at the end of summer. This odd funk changes in veracity from time to time, but this one is huge for me. My son, we’ll call him V, is stepping into his full awareness of self.

V is halfway to thirteen and the changes in him have been amazing to witness. It seems he just woke up one morning and was a different person. I remember the moment vividly as he slept in one day and came into the living room looking like a praying mantis. His gangly body grew faster than his brain and it reeked of awkwardness.

“‘Sup?,” is the greeting I hear as he fumbles towards the chair and slumps down, legs wide open. I do not recognize this person as he stares me directly in the eye.

I could see a glimpse of my toddler but it was faint and fleeting. He spoke of his plans for the day in a tone that expressed a full adolescent boredom. He’d stayed up late sharing music with a few online friends. They have formed some type of band and he wanted to share some music they share with one another.

I listen with interest as he shows off his creation proudly. The music is instrumental and electronic with altered sounds that they manipulate. He is hooked and passionate about something. As his mother, it is beautiful to witness.  

V  has been a challenge to raise with diagnoses that have worried me. My mother, his “Nan,” has declared that he is the strangest child she has ever dealt with and the most independent. 

V  has lived on the outside of groups from the very beginning, preferring to be alone in his mind instead. He would gravitate to other kids with no fear and no filter but would always end up playing alone. The energy and dynamics that come with groups of kids could overwhelm him and he would retreat into himself time and again.  

He would complete tasks but with no consideration for the directions or requests of an early evaluation. This got him in Pre-K at three years old. He went to school with no fear and couldn’t wait to ride the bus. The social worker in me tried not to analyze but it was evident that my very bright son didn’t learn the same way as other kids.

 Soon he developed obsessions with machinery, ships and trains. He offered little interest in anything else and preferred books on the Titanic or trains instead of stories. By the time he was six, the obsession with tornado sirens began. He studied every style and found the Federal Signal Thunderbolt 1000T to be his favorite.

We put him in baseball, soccer and basketball to push his ability to focus with stimulation all around him to see if we could help him to adapt, to no avail. He got overstimulated at his first open house and screamed so loud in the full cafeteria that he quieted the room. 

He had the same reaction to certain types of fire alarms in public. I remember having to run him into the bathroom at the state fair with my jacket over his head so he could relieve himself with some calm. I ran into an old friend as we exited the stall and wanted to say, “hello,” but had to run past her and request she meet us outside so I could speak and explain the situation. 

The IEPs started and deeper evaluations followed quickly. I avoided pharmaceuticals as long as I could but the pressure was on to help my son find a way to learn. V was aware that he was different from other kids as he attempted to connect. There were moments of reciprocation, but some kids found his obsession with trains and tornado sirens boring and his jokes obnoxious.  

The screaming fits subsided but his inability to handle external energies and stimulation would build and find release in saying things that disturbed his classrooms as it brought the silence he required when overwhelmed. He would offer to throw himself out of windows or prepare to be put up for adoption should he disappoint a teacher or his parents.

 School has been a struggle every year with calls home concerned about his sporadic outbursts.  I grabbed every resource I could from our community to get him through elementary school and into his first year at middle school. 

V  is starting seventh grade with a different attitude. He has found connections via the internet and peers at school that speak his musical language and he has a confidence that looks good on him. I’m watching him engage with his tribe and I feel an odd mixture of happiness, exhaustion, and relief as it has been a long time coming. We had such a fun and peaceful summer, I don’t want it to end.

I can feel my anxiety rising as he crosses into puberty and self-direction in an environment where he has yet to thrive. I have no idea how the year will go and I face that familiar void again, this time full of uncertainty but excitement about who he will become. The little boy is leaving.