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Life with Andrew.

As I was making out my order for Valentine's Day and Easter cards from a stationery catalog, I came across the page that offers Baby's First Year Calendar -- the kind of calendar with stickers for each of baby's first accomplishments and achievements. I paused for only a second, then moved on through the many colorful pages of gift wrap, bows and tags.

I went back to the page where the Baby's First Year Calendar was featured. This type of calendar wasn't available -- or at least I was unaware of its existence -- when I gave birth to my oldest son, Michael. I thought I had at least six of every conceivable baby gadget known to mankind for my firstborn son.

I had kept my own daily journal with Michael. I would write about Michael's achievements, trips, first smile, first every-firsts. Because Michael was my first child, every little movement was akin to a miracle for me. I marveled at every "goo" and "ahh" that he uttered. I could hardly wait for him to talk, then I prayed for him to stop or at least give me some quiet time. In my high-school yearbook, I was known affectionately as "Motormouth," and Michael was following in my footsteps as "Motormouth, Jr."

When Andrew was born, a close friend gave me a Baby's First Calendar as a gift. I loved the concept of the calendar. There were two pages of all kinds of bright, shiny, colorful stickers for every imaginable thing a baby could possibly do in his first year. When I brought Andrew home from the hospital, I promptly put a sticker of a shiny yellow car on that date in his baby calendar hanging by his changing table. My next sticker was for his first visit from a relative and then his first time seeing the pediatrician.

Then there seemed to be nothing happening with Andrew until his first hospital stay at five months of age. There were no stickers for "Baby's First Neuro Appointment" or "Baby's First EEG." Two entire years crept by before there was another chance to use one of those colorful stickers. "Baby Rolled Over Alone" was the next sticker. At this point, I was angry at this silly calendar for the ill reminder it had become. I put the calendar away and didn't think of it again until I saw the ad in the catalog.

For some reason, I wanted to see Andrew's calendar again so I searched his room for it. The calendar was packed away with Michael's baby journal. I had stopped writing in Michael's journal about the time I became disenchanted with Baby's First Calendar because every time I wrote in it, the entry would include Andrew's problems, and it was too painful to rehash each evening what a disastrous day it had been.

I sat in the rocking chair in Andrew's room holding the calendar. Why hadn't I thrown it away? Why did I still have it? As I sat rocking, I took a long look around Andrew's room: Cabbage Patch Dolls on his desk; a basket of toys that had never been touched (but were dusted regularly); a huge white bear from a carnival. On the walls were pennants from each circus, Ice Capades show and the only baseball game Andrew had attended. Also hanging on the walls were certificates he earned at school -- "Good Job In Art!," "Great Day Toileting!," "Best Lunch Room Behavior!"

Then I realized why I had not thrown away Andrew's calendar. Because this silly little calendar was the start of Andrew's story, his first year, good or bad.

Had I been more accepting or less frightened of Andrew's disabilities at the beginning, I could have made my own stickers or just used bright, shiny red hearts to signify how grateful and happy I was for each day Andrew was comfortable. I could have used little, dreamy blue stars for each night spent in the hospital to signify the hope of sweet dreams for my youngest child. Musical note stickers could have represented each time I danced around my house holding Andrew to my chest when he could not see but could hear the music and feel my touch. A sticker of any kind of food could have been put on any given day due to Andrew's incredible appetite.

So I've decided to go out today and purchase a calendar for each of my sons. I will also gather various stickers of animals, skateboards, food and stars -- whatever I feel will be appropriate for my sons' calendars of special events. Each time one of my sons does something to delight me -- does or says something amusing, scores a goal in hockey, does well in the clean plate club or gives me extra special smiles, a surprise kiss or just a hug -- I will place a sticker, a glittery bright star or a little bit of something whimsical, on his calendar.

That's what children are -- bright and shiny. All of our children are tomorrow's stars. I'm grateful to have such different, wonderful, shining stars living in my house. What a cold and drab place life would be without them. Enjoy!

Betsy Rosso-McCurdy, a domestic engineer and writer, lives in Hull, Mass., with her husband, Robert, and three sons, Michael, 11, Andrew, 9, and Kevin, 1. Rosso-McCurdy writes a weekly column for her local newspaper and would like to publish a book of her articles. She is also president of a residential and commercial cleaning company.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:parenting a disabled child
Author:Rosso-McCurdy, Betsy
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Date:Nov 1, 1992
Previous Article:Changing attitudes: we all need to learn.
Next Article:Estate planning for parents of children with disabilities.

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