Liam gesticulates. That’s a big word for “talks with his hands” — and it’s something he got from me. He makes flourishes as he talks with his fingers, draws circles in the air, gestures to things unseen, and emphasizes just about everything he can. He’s knocked his knuckles on doorjambs, knocked over glasses, and even a few times managed to fall out of a chair telling a good story. When he’s excited, his whole body’s excited.
Over the last month, we’ve heard lots of stories from Liam. Of kickball adventures. Of geckos. Of forts in the trees. Of new friends and a nemesis or two. Of funny teachers. Of good times, and bad times. And lots of flourishes.
Understand, that throughout his entire school tenure, the most he’s given us are words like: awful, annoying, stupid, dumb, horrible, and useless.
Liam’s success over the last few weeks has been nothing short of miraculous, and I’m not just talking about at school. Yes, he’s had the best two weeks on record, having two days without any negative marks (dots) on his daysheets (the kids are rated every 15 minutes with a check or a dot; three dots mean no Harbor Time, which is a free period, and initially Liam was missing this almost every other day).
But at home. At home is where we’ve seen the biggest impact.
Some samples of never-before-heard-in-this-house conversation from Liam:
“Dad, how was your day?”
“I know I can’t handle going over to the candy area without having a tantrum, so let’s just avoid it.”
“No thanks, I’d rather not.”
On the phone: “Do you think you could bring the iPad, please? It would be a really nice favor for me.”
“Mom, I just love you. That’s all.”
Maybe your kid says this stuff all the time. But ours never has. Please and thank-you are far from automatic for him, and his default setting is usually ornery and inflexible.
About two weeks ago I got up early with him. As per usual, he was sitting in the beanbag chair and getting ready to watch his Minecraft videos. He got up suddenly and started coming toward me, and I admit I was prepared for something dramatic. Either something wasn’t working or he was hungry or just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
But he just came over and wrapped his arms around me and told me he loved me, and went back to his beanbag chair. He acknowledged me in that moment, considered that it was early and that I was getting up with him, and showed me a display of beautiful affection.
I blinked away tears, signed him into the Xbox, and went to make my coffee.
For the first time in many years, Michael and I are enjoying being with Liam. We’re slowly starting to be less afraid when it comes to taking him out and going shopping, or on unexpected outings.
It’s a welcome gift during a very difficult time for us. Michael is looking for jobs every day, but it’s a rough time of year to be job hunting and the pickings are slim. We’ll do everything we can to keep Liam in school as long as we can, but for now we’re taking it day by day and celebrating every little flourish.