Last week Tim had a birthday. It was a big one – 17 – that age where you’re still legally a kid even if your stature makes you appear to be a man. He’d been at my parents house for 10 days and with us all for the Independence Day holiday before that, so he doesn’t have any more overnight passes for the month. He had lunch with his caseworker and a round of “happy birthday” sung to him by his friends at school, and we drove up to see him the day after his birthday to take him to see Captain America and bring him his present.
When we got there, Saturday at noon, Tim came out with his face hanging down, cup of water in hand. My heart immediately sank. I’d seen that face before. But rather than be sullen and in a bad mood, Tim got in the car and proclaimed that his stomach hurt him, and the water was to try and settle it. Tom and I quizzed him about what he could have eaten – or not eaten – to give him stomach pains. And in the back of my head I registered slight panic, as this marked a solid month he’d been complaining about his stomach, and I feared if the Clozaril was the culprit, we might have to look at a med change.
We stopped at a Target before going to lunch, and I bought a thermometer to check his temperature, just to reassure myself that it wasn’t the stomach flu. It wasn’t. We bought some Pepcid AC and put that into him, and went to Applebee’s. When we got there he ordered Sprite. That’s it. He opened his present – and iPod Touch that he’d been saving for (as we told him he’d have to pay for part of it), all loaded with games, music and a movie. He smiled, but then turned to us and said, very maturely, that his stomach was still in pain and he felt that a movie wasn’t a good idea. He wouldn’t be able to enjoy it, and he thought that maybe he should rest and try a movie again some other time. We agreed, if he felt that way, that was best. We stopped once more on the way back to school for a 2-liter of Sprite and some Saltines, and dropped him back at his group home to recuperate. I was dissapointed we couldn’t do more to celebrate his 17th birthday, but had to respect his decision.
I called that evening to see how he was feeling and his house manager told me he was out. At the movies. Seeing Captain America. Apparently he’d had some Saltines, Sprite, and a nap, and was better by about 4 PM. And I immediately felt cheated. I get to spend so little time with Tim as it is, I wanted his birthday to be special – something fun we could do together. And he got to do it, and I wasn’t there. Part of me wondered if he didn’t want to go to the movies with us. I managed to make it all about me in my mind for about an hour. Then I managed to make myself feel guilty about making it all about myself. It was a completely self-absorbed pity party, contained to the space between my ears. I hope. I don’t think Tom noticed.
So, his birthday didn’t go as I’d planned. Hell, what in his life HAS gone as I’ve planned? Precious little. We’re planning a visit home for a few days in August, before school begins again, and a trip to Wisconsin for Labor Day weekend, so I’ll have time to do some fun stuff with him before school is back in swing. I’m sure not taking these boys growing up very well, am I?