Happy Labor Day to you all.
“It’s Dad’s day,” said my son, Vincent.
“What?” I said. “No. Father’s Day was two months ago.”
“I mean it’s Dad’s day because he is the one who works,” said my little guy.
“Oh, no,” I said. “It’s Labor Day. This is a day to celebrate all who work.”
“Isn’t Dad the only one who works?”
I went on to explain that no matter what work one does, it’s all work and it counts. In home, out of home, for money, or no money. It’s work.
“What if I worked at the dump?” asked Vincent.
“Well, there is nothing wrong with that,” I explained. “There is no shame in any job. As long as you are working and doing your best and earning your pay, there is no shame.”
Ah, Vincent. My only son and a little guy with enough questions to keep one busy a lifetime. This one is starting kindergarten this year. For those of you who know us or have followed this blog, you know that Vincent also attended kindergarten last year. You also probably know that Vincent was diagnosed with childhood hearing loss last year and had surgery to correct a variety of problems. He went on to attend private kindergarten and speech therapy throughout the last school year.
This year, Vincent is going to public school and will be at the same school as his sister, Eva.
This last couple of weeks has been a time of reflection for me. I remember a year ago when Vincent had surgery and the drive we took home from the hospital following. He heard his father and I talking in the car.
“Mommy?” Vincent asked meekly from the back seat. He looked confused and nervous. “Why are you talking so funny?”
“Oh, sweetheart,” I said, choking back tears. “I’m not talking funny. You are just hearing me correctly for the first time!”
He came home to recover and we set up camp for him on the fold-out couch for two weeks. He rested there and snuggled into his dad for comfort whenever new sounds became scary and unfamiliar. One night, Vincent asked me to put him in my bed with a pair of earplugs and the rain machine turned on. He wanted the safety and security of familiar sounds, not new noises he could neither decipher nor understand.
I spent five years being overprotective of Vincent. I raced to explain to all who wondered why when they spoke, Vincent may not have understood what they were saying. Conversely, I often rushed to explain what Vincent meant when he spoke. From the time he was born, I just knew Vincent needed me in a special way.
But he’s now had a year of hearing, kindergarten, and speech therapy. I dropped him off and picked him up at school last year with the best teacher he could have had: Mr. Ron, who before the operation, would bend down and rest his hand gently on Vincent’s shoulder to get his attention, and then speak clearly into his left ear, which was the better of Vincent’s two ears. To this day, Vincent pulls out the “Get Well” card Mr. Ron and friends made for him and asks me to read it with him.
Now, I have to let my boy move onto the next phase in his journey as he goes to his next school. I still want to reach out in warning and offense.
“Vincent might not understand!” “He’s just learning to communicate!” “Please call me if you don’t understand!” “Don’t hurt his feelings!”
I want to step in and hold Vincent’s hand and coddle for every step of his journey. My heart tells me that’s fine; my mind tells me it’s not. I know what’s right. I just think it’s going to take me some more time to get there.