Monday, November 21, 2016

MEET EZRA: DISPLAYS OF EMOTION



Yesterday's lab visit was one of the most traumatic yet. Three and a half is a tough age to restrain child and shove a needle in his arm...twice. Ezra was hysterical, and angry, and fought so hard I could barely keep him still enough. I held his legs between my legs, held down one arm with my hand, and held onto his head with my other hand. It's so difficult to hold down 25 tiny pounds...enough to keep them from wiggling but also to not hold on too dangerously tight.

When they finished, Ezra was still sobbing and angry. He immediately ripped the bandage off his arm before it had a chance to clot. I suggested that they have him pick out a sticker, hoping for some temporary distraction. So they opened a drawer with rolls and rolls of stickers. And Ezra walked over to the drawer, slammed it shut and yelled, "I.don't.want.a.sticker!" There is something to be said about a three and a half year old's display of emotions. They don't hold anything back. They don't slap a band-aid over it, or try to make it better with a pretty sticker. They feel what they feel and they don't apologize for it.

Their "displays of emotion" are usually about unfair cirumstances like being told they can't wear the same dirty superman shirt four days in a row with the green pants that don't match, or that they can't have five applesauce packets before noon... Their "displays of emotion" are not usually about being pinned down by the people they love while strangers stick sharp objects into their body...for the hundredth time in their short three and a half years.

So while for a split second I thought I should tell Ezra to be polite after he slammed the drawer shut, I quickly shut that instinct down. It's completely unfair that this is how his life goes sometimes...that he's experienced so much pain and trauma. And sometimes band-aids are worthless and all the stickers in the world would not be enough to mask the pain and to put on a happy face. And in that moment I was proud of him for telling us what he thought about that stupid band-aid and those stupid stickers! Bravo, Ezra.
There are so many parallels I could draw from this story right now...it's so eerily relevant. But I'll move on
to the next part.

By the time we got to the car after the lab Ezra had calmed down. He was exhausted from giving it his all...and shortly after, he fell asleep before we made it back home. So I kept driving. He really needed rest. He's been sick so frequently these last couple weeks I'm sure sleep is one of the things he needs the most. I kept driving and I made my way all the way out to Finley Wildlife Refuge. It was a beautiful time of day. The rain had stopped and so much blue filled the sky. And I drove by this barn...the barn where I thought we were taking our first and last family photos with Ezra only three short years ago. And I gave thanks. I gave thanks that he's still here. I gave thanks that he's feisty enough to keep enduring all of this. I gave thanks for the lessons he's taught me and everyone with a soft enough heart to hear them.