I had that dream again, the one where my son is “typical,” “normal,” “developmentally on target,” whatever you want to call it. I don’t know any parent of a child with special needs who hasn’t had it at least once.
I’ve had it many times.
This one was strange though, because this time he was a teenager. He’s only five, but apparently, I’ve been watching too much Speechless on too little sleep and it launched us into the future.
In the dream, he is asleep in his bed, miraculously upgraded from twin to queen-sized, and I walk in to wake him up for school. At this moment, he is still the son I know, the one with cerebral palsy and limited speech who uses a wheelchair everywhere he goes. And so, I have carried his clothes into his room, jeans and a sweatshirt, to prepare to change him.
I nudge his shoulder and he rolls off and under the bed by some weird trickery of dream space where a teenage boy could actually fit in such a small space.
I squat down to look at him and he brushes his hair out of his eyes and sighs and says, “Mom, give me a minute!”
Dreams like these usually go one of two ways:
- He is typical and always has been and we have never known any different.
- He is newly recovered like a man waking from a coma. The unexplainable injury that caused the CP is miraculously healed and angels sing in the wings off stage.
This dream was the latter.
And so I run out of his room and yell for his dad and his brother and sister. No one is there except my mom. Apparently, in my psyche, my mom is always there.
She runs in and we watch together as he walks toward us, slouching like the kid from the “Zits” comic in a grungy plaid shirt and jeans, not the clothes I laid out, I notice. Typical teen.
But he is still my boy. He smiles, clearly aware that this is not the norm. He gives a half wave and I cry and run to him. My mom basically collapses theatrically with churchy sobs and fans herself.
“But how?” I say.
“No really?” I grab at his arm. He is so tall. I have to look up to see in his eyes.
“I don’t know. I just woke up this way.” And he smiles, his sweet two-dimpled smile from his five-year-old self and pats my arm like I am a little old lady.
The rest of the dream fades into a depressingly realistic conversation with his pediatrician who thinks this sudden change might be more alarming than good while he, my walking/talking son, lounges with his legs draped over an armchair and eats a bowl of cereal.
I didn’t want to wake up from this one.
It was so very real.
But I had to because it was a Monday and the snow they thought was coming did not come and he has preschool and speech therapy and he is five, not fifteen, and this is where we are.
But I did tell him about it, as I laced up his shoes over his leg braces while he munched Cheerios on his tray. I told him the dream and all he had said and described how tall he was and he listened and watched me where I kneeled at his feet…like he was taking notes for the future.
I know there will be more dreams. And I’m never going to stop hoping one day it will be true. One day he might stand taller than me. One day he just might tell me what’s on his mind in easy syllables.