The Guessing Game

One of THE most frustrating elements of having a child with no verbal language is the guessing game. When you cannot figure out what they want, what they need, how they feel, where they hurt, it can become terribly overwhelming. After this many years, I can often ‘read’ Jacob and then there are obvious signs that go along with a headache, bad sore throat, etc.

But, there are also those times when something will happen and I have absolutely no way to figure out how or what. He’ll get an awful scrape on his arm. Was he trying to reach for something behind his dresser? Did he fall? Or a nasty bruise will show up. We can all have a bruise appear and can’t figure out what caused it. My instinct just doesn’t want him to be hurt or have had awful pain. I feel like the answer to most of my questions is, ‘I don’t know and don’t even have a clue.’ Oh, how I wish I did. I can only guess.

This is how we all felt that day!

Recently Mike went in to check on Jacob early one morning as he does every morning between 5 and 6. He discovered Jacob had been sick during the night. My heart sank. I felt so sorry for him. Parents, you know that feeling of walking in to realize your child (often still in a crib) had been sick during the night. Talk about an awful feeling. I felt so very sorry for him. When your child is sick, so are you. That’s just the way it is.

The afternoon before when I arrived at his day program, a staff member walked out and said, “Jacob, was feisty today.” Interesting word and not often used to describe my boy. When we got home, he didn’t want a snack. Then he wouldn’t eat anything for supper. Both of those aren’t completely unheard of with Jacob. Unusual but doesn’t make me think, ‘oh no, he is sick.’

But, bless his heart, he was indeed sick. He apparently had a stomach virus that was really hard on him. Therefore, hard on us. I convinced Mike to go on to work. “We’ll be fine,” I said. And at the same time saying to Jacob, “it’s going to be okay.” Turns out, we weren’t at all okay and within a couple of hours, I called Mike to come home. That’s how rough it was. Without going into the messy details, suffice it to say, the washing machine ran non-stop that day (and the next). And, there was a lot of cleaning going on of everything and person in sight! Everything.

Feeling crummy meant it was hard to get him to drink much. I didn’t give up for fear of dehydration and thankfully, was able to get him to drink enough water and diluted juice (he will not drink soft drinks) to ease my mind at least a little. Was he going to be sick again? Oh, the guessing game. He was pretty quiet all day, watching some TV and listening to music. There is a saying – Give a sick man medicine. Give a sad man, music. Seemed the virus had to run its course but I think the music helped his feelings.

That day if I said “bless his heart” and “I feel so sorry for him” and “it’s going to be okay” once, I said it a dozen times. I just cannot stand for him to be sick. Fortunately as the day went on, I could see him perk up. He decided he would eat a little and moved around the house more. Good sign.

Knowing he had not slept good the night before and he hadn’t slept during the day, I wanted to get him to bed at a decent time. It was a pretty exhausting day and felt we all needed an early bedtime. Around nine, I started to his room and told him it was time to get ready for bed. What happened next, was fantastic and quite comical.

As I approached Jacob, he pushed me, using both hands, back into our den. He showed me the recliner and made me sit in it. He handed me a blanket (to get comfortable and cozy). He pulled the lever on the recliner to make sure I was nice and relaxed with my feet propped up. Once he was satisfied that he had thwarted the bedtime mission, he went back to his room, closing the hall door behind him. NO KIDDING! I laughed out loud. Little rascal was definitely feeling better. Thinking that was such a clear signal, I had to grant him an extended play time, so Mike and I sat in the den talking. A few minutes passed and Jacob eased the hall door open and ever so slowly peeked in to see what we were doing. Then he hurriedly closed it and went back to his room.

Bless his heart. Obviously, he was NOT ready to go to bed and wanted me to chill out while he played a while longer. I didn’t have to wonder and figure that one out. The day ended without another round of the guessing game. And Jacob had put a smile on my concerned face and sick heart.

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