We’d had company over the weekend.  Jacob had been quite good while they were here but obviously happy for things to return to ‘normal’ once they left. 

He woke on his own that Monday morning, took his medicine, got dressed without a struggle, and was ready to go to his day program.

Heading in pretty quickly, he got to the entrance at the same time a few other people arrived. That caused him some angst.  It seemed he handled it fairly well and was going to be okay.  I backed out of the parking space and looked up to see Jacob hurrying out of the building.  Oops.  His daddy was with me so he jumped out to steer him back inside.  Only Jacob wasn’t interested.  They wrestled some and Mike backed off and gave Jacob some space.  It took a few minutes and Jacob did a little exploring but finally went in the building and we breathed a sigh of relief. 

Those mornings, I half-way expect a call that Jacob is having a rough day.  That almost never happens.  But I’ve rarely seen him try to leave as soon as he got there.

It was impossible to know what was going on in that sweet mind of his. He is unpredictable, if anything, and it reminded me of two afternoons about four years ago. These were the Facebook posts.

February 2017

Jacob ran from me this afternoon and ran toward the street going in front of the other building.  The manager and nurse happened to see it play out and joined me in trying to head him off. He sat on the ground between the parking lot and street and was very uncooperative.  It seemed like hours but we were able to finally get him loaded. 

Before I got out of parking lot, he unbuckled his seat belt so I stopped and put the safety clasp on. 

As we turned into our neighborhood, he shimmied under the seat belt and proceeded to attack me from behind.  Pulling my hair, clothes, and arms.  I was afraid we’d wreck before I could get to our home. 

Twelve days later

Upon picking Jacob up he didn’t want to get in the van, but instead went toward the business next door.  As I attempted to veer him to our van, he hurried toward the street.  While I tried to get a good solid hold of him, he put his arm down the front of my shirt.  I was able to free myself from him and move him in the correct direction.  He then put his arm down the back of my shirt and got a hold of  the hem.  I really thought he was going to pull my shirt off then and there for all the world to see. It was soooooo terribly frustrating. 

Thankfully two staff members, J & T came to my rescue and the three of us got him secure and ready to go.

If you’ve ever been around Jacob and gotten too close, you have probably experienced him put his hand down your shirt. It has nothing to do with wanting to touch you and everything to do with venting his frustration or wanting to frustrate you. And, speaking for myself here, he is successful every time.

Thankfully, we’ve seen less and less of that behavior. Last week, the manager saw me drop him off and walked out to speak. She proceeded to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed Jacob’s return to the program. How several staff members had commented that he has been more calm, cooperative, and social. It was such a blessing to hear those words.

They echoed in my mind last week when Jacob put his hand down his dad’s shirt on the morning he exited so quickly. I was so appreciative of the timely encouragement that came just a few days before.

His unpredictable behavior is always going to be part of Jacob. Even when we ‘feel’ it coming and brace ourselves. There are days, he seems to have the upper hand.

It sure is great to know that he has way more good days than rough mornings or crummy afternoons.

Thank you Lord, that you never change. We can trust your presence even in the midst of unpredictable moments.


Dad’s Day

Being the creature of habit that Jacob is (admittedly, I’m the same), he notices when something is different. 

Most days that he attends his day program, his dad and I take and pick him up together.  If it turns out that only one of us can, he will do a double-take as he exits the building.

Last week, Mike had an afternoon appointment so I was running solo.  Jacob came out of the building and looked in the driver’s window and I could tell he was wondering why I was picking him up alone.  He got in the van fine and was compliant on the way home.  When we went inside, he did a quick room-to-room survey.  Once he’d made it through the house, he did a U-turn and headed to the garage. 

I watched to see what he could possibly be doing.  Sweet buddy, opened the side door and got in.  I was following bewildered that we had just gotten home and he was getting back in the van.

He was waving wanting me to buckle him up when it dawned on me.  His daddy wasn’t part of the pick-up team.  He assumed he was home.  He wasn’t.  I do believe Jacob thought we needed to go get him.

When I explained that Mike would be home in a couple of hours, Jacob accepted my answer and went back inside. 

It was really special and funny at the same time. 

Not long after that, Mike was actually out of town for an overnight trip.  I got Jacob ready for bed following our usual nightly routine.  Right before we were doing lights out, Jacob jumped up, pulled his window blinds aside, and peered out.  You guessed it, looking for his daddy’s car! 

He might be getting tired of me!

In honor of Father’s Day, from Jacob to his dad:  I’m so happy you are mine and I’m your Cooter Bug. You are the very best daddy!  I’m lucky that I get to live with you.  Thank you for being my best friend!  I love you so much!!

Dear Josh

When your dad and I married, I wanted a house full of children. At the time, four seemed like a good number. We were young and I was definitely naïve. By Jacob’s first birthday, and it seemed something was wrong, that dream went on the back burner.

As we heard words like developmentally delayed, severely profoundly retarded, autistic, I became downright fearful of having another child.  We went to a genetic specialist with one question in mind, what are our chances of us having another child with a disability? 

In short, the answer was, the same as anyone else.  The physician encouraged us to have another one if that was our desire.  While I was positive I wanted another one, I was still terrified.  One part of me was confident God would provide whatever we needed for our family.  I guess the other part was afraid His provision would still be hard.  

By Jacob’s third birthday I was pregnant carrying you. 

That pregnancy was easy as far as the way I felt physically.  It was HARD as far as emotions.  Had I done something during the first pregnancy that ’caused’ Jacob’s disability?  I tried not to worry but it was always on my mind and I peppered Dr. L with questions at every visit. 

Because of that, by the time I went into labor, I had the attention of two doctors making sure the delivery went smooth which ultimately meant a c-section since your birth weight was 2 pounds more than Jacob’s.  

The pressure was on, although, I hope you never felt it.  I was always on the lookout for eye contact.  Would you imitate us?  Wave or play peek a boo?  Cry when we left you with grandparents.   Goodness, I looked for every indication that you were ‘normal’.   Seemed I was looking for what Jacob was not.

All the things, and more, were accomplished on time, with flying colors, which did make me breathe easy. 

And then you were growing up too fast. Remember the time I was at a parent/teacher conference and your elementary school teacher said there was only one thing that concerned her?  You didn’t play with your peers on the playground for watching Jacob to make sure he was okay.  While we never suggested you keep an eye on him, you naturally felt that was your job. 

Once I overheard your best friend (when y’all were probably 10 years old) say, “why doesn’t Jacob talk?”, to which you calmly and quickly replied, “because that’s the way God made him.”  I’m thankful that was your reaction and that your group of childhood friends seemed to adopt that as well. 

It wasn’t long you were placed in the ‘gifted program’.  Without realizing it, I suddenly felt like I had something in common with other parents.  That was a wonderful and new feeling.  Before we felt isolated and alone.  Like no one could possibly understand what our daily life looked like.  Finally, we were in a group of parents that could compare notes.  Notes on expectations, parenting, discipline, homework, all the normal things.

Thank you for being an easy child to parent.  I don’t believe I ever said something like, just wait until you’re a parent!  I can only remember one incident that you were so frustrated at us that you ‘showed out’.  I sure don’t recall the offense but can’t forget your empty threat, “fine, I just won’t go play at youth group tonight!” Like we were going to be devastated when you didn’t go do what we knew you looked forward to doing weekly. There was the ongoing conversation of me telling you that when you are paying for electricity, you can have your room the temperature of an iceberg!! I really can’t put that in ‘being a difficult child’ category though.

It seemed your behavior was in line with—my parents have enough on their plates.  I’ll not rock the boat.  I hope we never imposed that on you but you were smart and could read between the lines. 

Thank you for being YOU!  Willing to be our eyes to watch your brother.  Willing to hang out with him so we could do something with friends occasionally. Not afraid to be different from the crowd.  Kind and considerate.  Sensitive to the core. Overflowing with compassion.  You could probably identify with oldest, middle, youngest, and only children during different stages of your life. By our family dynamics you had to assume that role.  Maybe that is why you are so well balanced!  No matter what, where, or when, you took everything in stride. 

We are so incredibly proud to call you our son.  Completely in awe of the brother, man, husband, father, friend, and creative genius that you are.  I’ve wanted you to have it all. I think you already do.

Love you deep and wide,