One day many years ago, my 5 year old boy was bopping about the living room while my husband and I were talking. We'd been at a friend's all afternoon swimming in her pool with his little homeschool pals and all were impressed at his front flips into the water, how fearless he was. In our living room, at the end of our couch was a small sturdy table. He climbed up on it - we weren't much bothered, crazier things had happened and he was the restless type so we went about talking - and then he bounced into the air, flipping forward and landing on the floor in front of us, flat on his back.
The boy wasn't dumb. We thought. So we sat there agape as he peeled himself from the carpet, gave a sheepish grin, remembered how he wasn't at a pool, presumably, and carried on.
There would be other times. Like the one when I was talking to a neighbor in my garden and he stood nearby playing with a railroad tie spike. He was sort of jabbing it into a fir tree and the next thing I knew, he'd jabbed it right into his own eye. Strange, again. Why would a kid do that, a mom had to wonder.
Once, he told me later, he'd jumped off his friend's clubhouse in the hopes of grasping a tree limb on his way across the yard but once his feet left the high roof atop a swingset, he realized that he'd made a grave miscalculation. He kept quiet about the major knot on the back of his head and the pain in his little back.
The time that gives me shivers was years later when he was around 8. He was playing at a friend's house across the street and the neighbor girl ran over for me to tell him it was time to come home. I was in the kitchen when I heard the jaw-clenching sound of screeching tires and bolted to my window - not even dreaming it was my business. But a moment later I was staring at a red Jeep stopped dead in the road and a familiar boy hopping out from in front of it onto the sidewalk. He ran in my front door and said - to a pale, weak mother - "Whew! Lucky I'm fast!"
This was the same boy about whom others would whisper when they heard that he was homeschooled, "Well, Jennie, they'd probably classify him as ADHD if he were in school, so it's probably better off." That used to make me so mad. Inside I'd answer them: There is nothing wrong with my kid, he's just ... he's just ... extraordinary. Only problem was that though I knew he was extraordinary, I still had to help him not get hit by cars or flip off tables or poke his eyes out or strip off all his clothes and crawl around the yard just to see if he could do it without the neighbors seeing. They did. I didn't even go into the time when he came in asking for aspirin for a horrible, horrible headache and then added, "Guess how many cartwheels it takes to get to Joanie's house?" Because that was me...and I'm talking about him right now and the mystery that surrounds his nature.
Today his doctor told us that, yes, he does have depression and anxiety, but that these could be stemming from his "textbook" case of ADD.
We're embarking on a new journey, but what better way to journey than with those you love.
It's 12:01AM Tuesday and he just buzzed by me with the neck of his lefty guitar in one hand, music journal in the other and guitar pick in between his teeth, stopping only to spin around and wonder to me if we might have paper plates, for he needs to bring paper plates to school tomorrow for the Spanish party. We don't have paper plates. But we do now have an early morning adventure to the grocery store.
By the way, it was fortysome cartwheels and it was worth it.