Susan's Blog

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nat’s Brave New World

It seems like every time I talk to Nat on the phone lately, he’s kind of sad. I might be reading into what he’s doing, as I am prone to do, but I feel that when he talks to me, all of his longing for home comes up. He does very well apart from this; Ali tells me that when they are outside together and the wind blows in his face, he giggles. He is also doing a lot of purchasing with her at the grocery store — extremely well — and all kinds of chores and fun around the House. Walks with K, running with B, movies, dinners out.

When he’s here he is also very on. He is aware of everyone, and very interested in what we are doing. This past Monday we went down to my parents’ house for Rosh HaShanah and we had a traditional Jewish dinner (chicken soup, chicken, matzah balls, gefilte fish, tsimmis, challah). Nat was terrific. He said prayers along with his brothers. He waited patiently for us to finish the soup and all the foods he does not eat. He was sweet and a pleasure to be with. In Temple he was riveted to the Rabbi the entire time. He was following along the service with his prayer book, and he was smiling and exhibiting absolutely zero behaviors (I’m getting ready to write about that, definitely).

So it is strange how he has been with me on the phone. He starts out strong: “Who’s this? How are you, I’m fine.” And then he answers questions I ask him about his day, and he volunteers information about things he enjoyed that day. But suddenly, by the end of our conversation, his voice gets very small and shaky. He starts repeating himself: “Friday, home. Saturday, Halloween party. Friday, home.”

I always respond, “Yes, Nat, Friday you’ll be home. Saturday you are going back to the House for the Halloween party. You’re going to be Zorro, right?”

“Right, yes.” And then, “Friday, home.” His voice gets tinier and tinier, and shaky. I start to feel that pang, that ghost of doubt rising from my belly and clouding up my eyes. Is he okay? Is he lonely? Does he get it? Is it finally sinking in, that he’s living there now, for the most part? Is he sad?

I can’t bear that. But I have to.

But I know he’s not sad, for the most part. There is so much I know, and every day that knowledge covers me like a blanket. Nat is in good hands, and his ability to talk to us, and tell us real things about his day, as well as his good-natured willingness to do things with the House people proves that.

It’s just when there’s that little voice; then my heart connects with his, and that cord is still there in spirit, my firstborn, child of my soul. My brave young man.


Hearing a parent’s voice on the phone can bring out the melancholy in the child, no matter what age. Our son in the midwest (stayed there for a teaching job after college and we live in the northeast) at times sounds sad on the phone, but the content of the conversation is not sad, just wistful sounding that we are on the phone and not in person. Were we able to “beam” to where he is, that would quickly dissolve as it does in most phone conversations as he loves his new adult life.
A growing pain, nothing more but hard to bear.
Second point: most men in my life do not love talking on the phone. Hang in there, the picture of you and your youngest son in the previous post speaks volumes!

— added by Anonymous on Friday, October 3, 2008 at 9:00 am

I am so delighted to hear of all of Nat’s accomplishments, he’s taking in so many new things snd conquering them all. You guys must be bursting with pride.

Remember how you sometimes you weren’t sure if Nat would miss you guys, well with his tiny voice he lets you know that he does. He’s a remarkable boy/man, and he’s going to do great things. Lisa

— added by Anonymous on Friday, October 3, 2008 at 10:28 am

Thats just your mommy senses working in over drive. Sometimes I think that we try so hard to pick up on everything that is going on with them, and we all know our children better than anyone. Nat probaly do miss being at home sometimes because that is what he is used to and he has feelings so it only natural for him to miss you. Wouldn’t it be just too wierd if he didn’t miss you! Punkin has been at HKS for 12 years and I know that she still misses me sometimes because the staff say that she will ask for her mommy so they will call me and I’ll sing to her on the phone. We have a really special bond because its just the two of us together all of the time when she is at home, so its natural. We miss them so much! Your twin in Alabama

— added by Anonymous on Friday, October 3, 2008 at 1:06 pm