Thursday, June 9, 2011

Holding on

Today's best moments were those spent with Paul. I picked him up at 10am from school to bring him to his doctor's appointment where he'd have his physical required of him to attend summer camp this month. We chatted on the 20 minute trip and weighed our options for where we'd get lunch afterward.

At the doctor's office Paul was given a short questionnaire which reviewed his lifestyle at home. He answered that he ate between 5-7 servings of vegetables a day, drank nothing but skim milk and water (and a little apple juice), played actively and had a limit on his computer/screen time with no television in his bedroom and no computer either. He said he wanted to increase the amount of time he spends outside and the two of us smirked at one another as we answered the question about the number of times we sit and eat at the table together as a family, knowing that we had not been good about that lately due to conflicting schedules, but that we'd be back into the regular pattern of doing so in another week or so (with summer coming).

When he was weighed and measured by the nurse, I looked at my growing boy and smiled at the memory of how tiny he was those first few months when my girlfriend worried if he was getting enough to eat. I chuckled when Paul asked his doctor if being in the 50-70 percentile for his height and weight was "good" and I found his honesty of being "a little nervous" about heading to the middle school next year most refreshing. His giggling when his doctor tested his reflexes was sweet and his banter matching his doctor's sense of humor made me proud.

He's definitely growing up and maturing. However when it came time for him to have three shots, he again expressed his anxiety and yet he listened attentively to the explanation as to why these vaccines were important to have done. He anticipated the worst as the needles were used and then looked at me in surprise when he realized it wasn't as bad as he thought it'd be. Yet, he had a reaction to the shots. He grew pale and light headed and the nurse had him recline with a cool compress on his forehead for several minutes. As I watched him nearly fall asleep on the examination chaise, I flashed back to his toddler years when he'd nap on the couch. There was my boy now, just an inch and a half away from being 5 feet tall and just 8 pounds away from being 100 pounds, and yet in him I still see that little baby boy.

As we went out to lunch after his appointment, Paul was still a bit "woozy", telling me that his head seemed "cloudy". But we followed the nurse's instructions and got him some protein. Paul opted for Chinese food so we ordered our meal and went to sit down, waiting for it to be ready. That's when Paul began telling me that someday he wants to go to China. I asked him if he wanted to go as a teenager on exchange, but he was quick to tell me, "No, I want to be with my friends in high school. I'll go later". I suggested that he consider going when he's in college.

As we continued talking, Paul then told me that he wants to work for the organization Unicef someday or somewhere else like that because he wants "to help people". Usually joking around, Paul said this in the most sincere, serious manner. He was still feeling a little "cloudy" and as I watched his eyes, it was almost as though he was talking in his sleep. He was awake but he was not fully alert. He seemed to be under the effects of a truth serum. It was quite endearing. "I want to adopt an Asian baby too someday", he continued. "How come?" I asked. "Because they are so cute. And I want to help people. I just want to help people". My heart was melting there in that Chinese Food restaurant. Completely melting.

I stopped to buy him some ibuprofen on the way home and as we drove back to our hometown, truth-serum-induced Paul told me he'd like to give his son the middle name "Eric" someday, to name his son after his own father the way I had done in giving him as his own middle name, my own Dad's name. A few minutes later, Paul touched my shoulder. He said just two words before drifting off, falling into a short nap. "Thank you". I was not sure what he was thanking me for, for being with him at the doctors? For our talk? For his lunch? For getting him ibuprofen? Oh, it did not matter. I grabbed his hand and we rode home in the car like that, holding onto one another, holding onto everything we have in one another, holding on for dear life...and love.

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