Growing Pains

Wil went to the doctor for his well visit Friday afternoon. He’s now 5’4” and 136 pounds. Wil was a champion through all of the doctor’s tests and questions. In previous appointments, he would act silly if he didn’t understand a test, or glance at me when the doctor asked him a question. On this day he kept eye contact with the doctor, followed her cues with each test, and answered every one of her questions. 

Katherine recently secured a job as a server. She asked Wil to quiz her on the menu. It was a natural choice for her as one of Wil’s favorite subjects is food (he reads take-out menus for fun). Wil held the menu up, ordered a meal, and Katherine told him what sides or dressings it came with. Wil had so much fun with this task that he pointed out all of the items to me too!

Wil is no longer a “little guy.” Each forward step of independence is incredibly gratifying to see. But like any teenager, he also asserts his independence when he doesn’t want to do something. Wil has summer speech therapy twice a week, and occupational therapy (OT) once a week. He enjoys going so I was surprised when he resisted one morning. I tried but was unable to deduct the reasoning behind it. Thankfully Elizabeth was home and I needed to take Katherine to work first. So I told Wil I was leaving for speech and OT without him and was very sorry he made a decision to miss it. Katherine and I left. We hadn’t made it more than one minute down the road when my cell phone rang. 

“Hi Mom,” Elizabeth said, “Wil has something he wants to say to you.” Wil got on the phone and said, “Hi Mom. I want to go to speech and OT.”

Now knowing the consequences, Wil is unlikely to refuse again. But to reach that point, it can take such measures that require more than just me. I could write an entire book on how innately understanding Katherine and Elizabeth are when it comes to motivating and supporting Wil. 

There have been times when Katherine, Elizabeth and I have had to physically move Wil when he won’t leave a situation. It’s happened at the airport, when for a reason only known to him, he refused to board a connecting flight. It’s as emotionally trying as it is physically — for all of us. 

On one recent occasion, Wil didn’t want to leave my parents’ house. After much reasoning on all of our parts — even bribing with a Coke — he sat unmoving on the floor. I knew once he left my parents’ house he would unwind from whatever was keeping him stuck (once Wil is out of the physical location he’s stuck in, it’s like an emotional release too). 

When it was clear he wasn’t going to move, I came behind him, reached under his armpits and clasped my hands in front of his chest. Katherine and Elizabeth lifted him by the legs. He cried and fought us. It was awful. When we got too tired and set him down on the ground to catch our breath, I bent down to talk to him quietly and Katherine hugged him. When we managed to get him in the car, it was like a switch went off in his head. He was completely fine. However, the switch doesn’t flip that easily for Katherine, Elizabeth and myself. I sat in the car trying to hide the tears streaming down my face so as not to upset him again.  

On our drive home, Wil belted out the words to a Luke Bryan song, and Katherine and Elizabeth rolled their eyes as they usually do. I took in a deep breath and took in the equilibrium of the moment. 

Wil’s timeline is different from our timeline. Finding an equilibrium in that is one of my greatest challenges as his parent. I suppose that is why there is such a thing as growing pains. There is no growth without them; and yet the growth is always worth it. 

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