I Forget How Big He Is

I hurt my back this week. I had no idea how and, thanks to my surprise quintuple bypass in 2012, I now assume that most unexplained ailments have the potential to kill me. I rarely get physical pains like that, especially when I hadn’t done anything strenuous that I can recall, so my head told me it had to be deeper.

Googling didn’t help. In fact, it made me even more worried that it could be an internal issue. Is it my appendix? Maybe the liver, maybe the kidneys, maybe even in the colon. I didn’t know. So I went to the doctor to get checked out. I just wanted someone to give me piece of mind.

As I waited to be called in, I stared out the window and tried to recall anything physical I had done that could have contributed to this. After all, he’s sure to ask and I can’t just shrug. All I knew for sure was that I hadn’t done anything out of the norm this week. It must just be “getting old”.

blStill, as I sat in that waiting room, I rewound my internal clock and went back to Friday in my mind. For the first time, I remembered that my son, Lucas, was sleeping when his bus pulled up that day. They walked him to the door and, with his eyes half closed, he attempted to slide down the steps. Just as he was about to topple over like a garage sale slinky, I reached out and scooped him up.

Tightly grasping him in my right arm, I carried my son from the bus, across the driveway, and up the first set of steps in our yard. Eventually, we made it to the front stairs and, while still holding Lucas, I took him up the flight and into the front door. His school bus hadn’t left the whole time. In fact, they were all sitting there watching as if I was a contestant on Ninja Warrior.

It was the same reaction that his teachers get when I come into his classroom for a visit and toss him up in the air. He laughs, I laugh, and we both spin around. It doesn’t feel like a big deal to me, but to others, it is. Once I even heard one his aids call out in a loud whisper to another, “Psst. Look! Look, he’s picking him up.”

For those unfamiliar with my family, this seems like a crazy story of over-cautious personnel watching a father interact with his tiny child. In actuality, it’s the shocked view of people as a father lifts his seven-year-old non-verbal son with Autism up off the ground out of nowhere long after that sort of thing should be commonplace.

Lucas is a big kid. He’s not just seven, but a beefy seven. He’s the type of kid you would expect to play football or enter one of those contests where mountain men throw kegs and refrigerators. He’s a stocky little guy who is way too big to be tossed around without, in the least, preparing yourself first.

In my head, though, he’s twenty pounds and two years old.

That’s not a comment about his abilities or development either. His sister, who does not have Autism and is constantly verbal, is the same way. I see her as my baby even though everything about her personality tells me otherwise. The only difference is that Olivia, at ten, will look me in the face and say, “Stop cradling me, Nub. I’m not a baby.” I wipe a tear and follow her wishes. Lucas – not so much.

One of the aspects to him being non-verbal is that he can’t insist that he’s too big for things. When you mix the toddler-tinted view I have of my children with his inability to remind me that he’s getting more enormous by the day, it makes for some ridiculous decisions that might send me to the doctor on a cold October morning with no knowledge of what got me there.

If that bus story had been all that happened, that would be understandable. After all, one unexpected physically taxing moment is easy to forget. It’s not like we had a UFC style wrestling match on Sunday as I tried to cut his hair.

Except that we did.

collYeah. Forgot about that one too. Cutting Lucas’s hair is a full contact sport and, while I would love to bring him to a hair salon, I don’t want to see him meltdown in public or with a stranger swinging scissors around his head. So, I do it at home. It’s pretty intense. I wrap myself around him like an octopus. He comes at me like a spider monkey. We go to war for 30 minutes until he emerges cuter and angrier than he was before. That was another memory that I had brushed aside in my head. It happened that weekend.

So I here I am, with two major moments of exertion within the last two days and I claim to not know why my back hurts. Neither one of these activities ever struck me as out of the ordinary until I was already sitting in a doctor’s office. Now it was crystal clear and I came off like an idiot. I explained these two stories to the doctor and he looked at me like I had three heads.

Uh…yup. Those’ll do it.

I wish I could tie all of this together with a bow at the end, but I can’t. There’s no moral to this story and no lesson that I’ll learn. In fact, I’m almost positive that this all will happen again, complete with my oblivious nature of why I have any pain. He’s my baby and, while I make him as self-sufficient as possible, I’m here to coddle him in those moments where he might be too old for his Daddy to treat him that way.

One day, maybe he’ll be able to tell me, “Yo. Put me down.” I’d love that because it means he’s made progress in his verbal skills. But, if he doesn’t, I’ll be picking him up and tossing him around for as long as he and my bones will let me. One day, my wife will come home to find him sitting on the floor with squashed arms and legs sticking out from underneath. She’ll hear my faintly muffled voice yell out.

We’re fine! He’s just sitting on my lap!