I Am What I Am (#474)

“I am! I am! I ann!”

It would, I suppose, be nice to simply tell you that Charlie said those words out of the blue, in spontaneous affirmation of his personhood. As things go, he was repeating my saying “I am, I am” and I was not making any philosophical statements, any Descartian cogito ergo sum (“I think therefore I am”).
Charlie was telling me to hurry up and get out of the bathroom and I was telling him that “I am.”

(Ah, motherhood: No time to yourself, anywhere and at any moment and in the midst of any activity, including those that one had formerly thought “private.”)

Charlie was speaking so clearly, the same as he had when he first came into our room this morning: “Get up!” “Squeezer!” “Your be-e-e-est frienn.” “Pants.” “Get up!” “Shirt.” “Go up-stairs.” Every word was 100% clear and he was smiling.

An hour later, he was crying and then screeching in a somewhat blood-curdling manner. He had had breakfast; he was staring at something in the distance; he ran up and down the living room and froze, head tilted, eyes huge, on a chair. We asked him to go down to our room and he at first refused, then ran downstairs and threw himself on the bed. And then he did a puzzle, and sat for awhile, and it all passed.

The weekend blues, I think. I have been noticing, Charlie often wakes up very happy and stays that way and talks very well for a short while, only to begin frowning, as if his mind is fresh and clear from sleep on waking, and his having to struggle through all the stimuli and language and unexpectedless of the day sullies that freshness. Exercise always helps—skipping up and down the driveway and up and down the porch steps and in and out of the front door, and then a bike ride in a new direction.

Eating also helps, especially after a trip to what must be Charlie’s all-time favorite store, Trader Joe’s—-something about the staff in their Hawaiian shirts, the Simon and Garfunkel playing in the background, the large selection of things that Charlie on his special diet can eat. He chose his pack of sushi, said “yes, wah’ermehwahn” to a pack of pink slices, and carried the shopping basket—-which he set down in the exact middle of the frozen food aisle to select a bag of his favorite frozen vegetable mix. “Yes,” said Charlie gravely holding out the bag towards me.

He is what he is.

As as often been happening, Charlie started smiling and talking more once he had showered after dinner and all that was left to do on this day was the familiar pre-bedtime routine. And so it came to pass that I was in the bathroom and Charlie, repeating my words, said “I am. I am.”

Yes, Charlie was simply echoing my words. Repeating my speech; imitating.

But by speaking, by talking, by calling on me to pay attention to him, he was saying what we mean when we say those words. When we say “I am”: I’m here, I exist, see me here.

I am, you are, Charlie is.

7 Responses to “I Am What I Am (#474)”
  1. Ennis says:

    I wonder what will happen if you start to take him out for exercise quite soon after he wakes up, to get him off on the right foot. As you’ve said before, he responds quite well to exercise. [That reminds me, I should probably try to exercise an hour after I wake up too :)]

  2. Kari says:

    Oh, I love Trader Joe’s (and Whole Foods!) So much easier to find healthful special diet-friendly food there.

  3. Penny says:

    Ha! We live three blocks from a Trader Joe’s, so we’re there a lot, it’s a good “let’s go for a walk” destination. My son is treated like visiting royalty there–everyone who works there (and a lot of the other regular shoppers) knows him, his name, what makes him smile and laugh. He’s greeted at every turn, and if there’s a noticeable change in his well-being (like right now, when he’s got casts on both feet), cashiers will ask how he’s doing, etc. They’ve seen him within hours after surgeries, they’ve seen him freshly scrubbed and dressed for a party, and everywhere in between. Glad to hear another TJs on the other side of the US is also a happy place.

  4. Charlie had to wait to go for his bike ride—it did help to run up and down in the yard some. Two casts—what happened, Penny!??!!!! We’re a longer car ride from Trader Joe’s now but it’s just like enough for an “outing”—-we’re starting to recognize some of the cashiers too and they us, and they’ve been friendly.

  5. KC'sMommy says:

    I know what you mean about “privacy.” K.C. tends to bust in on me when I am in the bathroom and if I don’t let him in he goes into a complete panicked frenzy trying get through the door. Bless him, I just let him.
    It must be music to your ears to hear Charlie using his words so well:) What an awesome guy!

  6. Penny says:

    We tell inquiring children “skydiving accident,” but really it’s just serial casting–he’s got CP. About once a year his AFOs stop fitting because his calves get too tight and his feet get all twisty–“twisty” being a highly technical term, of course. So they use a series of casts to get him back to a workable position. It’s hard but it beats another surgery.

    You can see his 2005 red casts here:


    (This week’s casts are blue.)

  7. Julia says:

    Whole Foods is one of my favorite places to take Sam. Once I can manage carrying everything again, I’ll take him again. (I can’t use the cart when I take him, I have to be able to move too quickly to have that particular burden, but I can’t lift enough to use the basket yet.)

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