Ethan had his school conferences today. I can't believe he is almost done with first grade. I looked back recently in the livejournal I maintained, starting when I found out I was pregnant with him up until he was in preschool and it amazes me how much he has grown and changed.
The last post I made in this blog before Leslie got sick was in regards to Ethan's coping mechanisms. He has always been very sensitive to change and unpredictability. He struggled a lot in preschool with transitioning, and even had to have his own special chart to encourage him to try new things. Leslie getting sick was obviously extrememly traumatic for my family, but I was terrified of telling Ethan. Leslie (or Sessee as he has always called her) was his best buddy. He adored her and she equally adored him. He would often spend afternoons at her house, and they loved to go play mini-golf together on a hot summer day. Leslie never wanted kids, but my kids have always given her such a huge sense of fulfillment.
Initially, when Leslie got sick, we didn't say a word to him. We didn't know what the outcome was, and I just wasn't emotionally ready for his innocent questions. It was amazing how I could leave the hospital sobbing, then come home and maintain a perfectly normal mood. One particular Saturday, I had a REALLY rough day. The doctor implied we needed to be thankful she even survived, and reminded us that she could still die. It was a HARD slap in the face. I cried the whole way home, and I couldn't stop. I cried all evening, and all night long. Hiding my feelings from Ethan was impossible.
For a child who struggles with coping skills, it was after explaining what was going on with Leslie that made me realize he is FAR more mature than I ever gave him credit for. Ethan became my rock. When I would cry, he'd sit quietly beside me. When we took him to visit Leslie at the hospital, he'd hop up next to her and try to trigger memories out of her. When she'd say something unintentionally funny, he would giggle a little bit, then help her remember things the correct way. He would frequently remind us that "everyone gets sick sometimes" and that we need to be patient and wait for her to get better. He wasn't scared of her. He did ask a few times if she was going to die, but he never worried that the mind frame she was in now may be permanent. He accepted it. He accepted her.
The Sessee he knows now is nothing like the Sessee he knew before. He no longer spends afternoons with her, unless someone else is there with him, and the mini-golf sessions likely won't happen as much, but he is okay with that. Children are amazing. They are unconditionally loving and accepting. The things we adults struggle with, kids don't. I will never underestimate Ethan's ability to love. His heart is pure and golden and I am certain Leslie knows that.