The call.

I’ve been expecting the call and dreading it since he was 2. Call it a mother’s intuition, call it a spectacular case of parent-induced dread. Call it what you will, but, I knew, I knew, I knew I was going to get the call.

So, when it came this afternoon, I should have been ready. I should have been able to recall the words that had been developed, practiced and played out in my head. I should have been able to tactfully participate. Instead, I mumbled and tripped and entered the conversation late with bloody knees and my writing arm in a sling. I was impaired by love and it conquered all of my well intentioned knowledge. It displaced my understanding. In its place, my mind imagined my body huddled over his body; my hands over his ears – humming his favorite song loudly. I had to protect him.

All the while, I knew I needed to be listening. After all, wasn’t this exactly what I anticipated?

As she spoke, my mind wandered to his 3 week premature ears. They had small folds at the top. The doctor told us it was common in the under-baked. They would self-correct over time. He still has barely visible folds at the top of his ears. I love that about him. It’s the only part of my baby that is left. The rest has been stretched to conform into a boy – lean legs and long arms.

As she spoke, my mind wandered to the woman who called him a, “little shit!” in my kitchen. And, he was acting like a humongous shit. Hitting and displaying the very worst of his interior. I wanted to kill her.

As she spoke, my mind wandered to the boy who could not be consoled when he didn’t find a living bug during a class lesson. He cried and yelled and refused to get back in line as every other child marched inside. I was helpless, chasing the baby. Another mother stayed with him in the garden and turned over the rocks until he found the perfect insect. I wanted to give her every piece of goodness I had.

This boy of mine, who has never been easy. He’s never been easy. He would cry and cry and cry. We would cry and cry and cry. He’s still not easy.

The papers will come home. We should look over them and there will be something to sign. It’s early intervention. They love him, but…

We all love him, but…

It’s just never going to be easy.

And, my heart breaks into all of the pieces that so tenderly love him.

I knew I was going to get the call, I just hoped I never would.


  1. Christy Cruz says:

    Nothing, no amount of preparation can really get you ready for the call. Nothing. But, here, you are loved, and we will hold your hand as you negotiate the path that is unfolding. And we will love the boy who has never been easy, because he is a gift. Just as much a gift as the boy who has always been easy.
    And there will be tears, and we will have soft tissues.
    And wine……..for now, here is a big ol’ hug from Central Texas, and the mother of a boy who has not always been easy. ((()))

  2. It’s OK to be sad! Why does anything ever have to be wrong with our babies? But from someone who’s been in the system since their wee one was about 15 months old, know that the services are wonderful, and it’s wonderful that someone is looking out for him enough to recognize what’s going on and help him. So much better now than later.

    We have had such excellent experiences and success with Early Intervention. Do your homework, ask tons of questions, and don’t ever, ever be ashamed. Get him all of the extra guidance and help that he needs. Mine is now 3, and we are now navigating the new (to us) world of IEPs and new assessments now that the school district is in charge versus early childhood. Sometimes it sucks, sure, but I’m all MAMA LION with her now, clawing my way around. Reach out if you need a sympathetic ear!

  3. carolyn sullivan says:

    I have his counterpart. My troublesome baby who went though more trials and challenges than any adult could have. He is 23 years old now. I have breast cancer. He is my caregiver. Not a problem free person, but a beautiful, caring one. We are so lucky.

  4. Let yourself cry. Let yourself mourn. But know. Know that he’s still the same little boy you had yesterday. No matter what labels they put on him, you still know him in a way that only you can (((hugs)))

  5. I have never commented on your block before but I thought today was the day. You deserve So much love and support for this horribly tough day. There’s no way you could have been prepared for the call. Just remember to breathe and that he’s still your same little boy.

  6. HUGS. This is exactly where I was at last year with my then 3-year-old. I cried myself to sleep repeatedly after hearing “developmental delay”–I wouldn’t let them utter that they suspected the “A” word. Early intervention. I will tell you a year later, we have seen so so so much progress. They love him–even the teachers who don’t have them in class know his name. It’s a scary, scary road, punctuated by so much unknown and fear for the future. You’ll find quickly though that you’re surrounded by other families who grieve with you and celebrate the progress. The educators and therapists too. The phone call sucks–but what comes next does get better. Feel free to email me if you want/need to talk.

  7. Oh, mama. This breaks my heart. I’m so sorry. I also wait for and expect that call some day. I’m so sorry. Protect your baby as best you can. You are his biggest advocate. Hugs to you and your baby and your whole family.

  8. I just got that call a couple months ago from the “specialty” school I put him in because I knew he was never going to be easy. they are apparently supposed to have more experience with children with disabilities and and difficulties and for the price I was paying them they had better. Instead, not even a month into him starting school there they called and said they were going to recommend behavioral therapy. So I said sure and signed the papers. 2 weeks later they said he couldn’t come anymore because he was just too disruptive. So believe me, I know how you feel. I have spent years crying at night just to vent some of the frustration. He is just going to be a spirited child and there is nothing I can do besides love and discipline him. If you need a hug, or a tissue, or a big glass of wine, I’m here with ya.

  9. Even knowing that call is coming doesn’t mean it’s any easier when it does come. xo

  10. I really wish I could give you a hug right now.

  11. Having gotten ‘that call’ myself, also knowing it was coming, I truly understand. Just know it can get better, it’s not always quite as hard. It’s rarely easy, but not always as hard. HUGS!

  12. I’m sorry doesn’t seem to fit here because your child is still a precious being that you love so much. But I’m sorry you’re hurting.

  13. I had one of those kids; K-12 just about killed me. He could not read! He could not sit still. He could not shut up!
    He is now 22, a college graduate, and employed as a police officer. DO NOT GIVE UP!

  14. You don’t need to be told this, but feel what you are feeling. That’s it. Plain and simple.
    Accept good people and guidance when you get it and piss on those who are going to deserve to be pissed on.
    Hugs……….and know that you are never alone in this journey. Sadly there are many of us.

  15. Its easier to hear it in your head than from someone else mouth. We are here for you.

  16. Bless your family! Grieve, mourn, cry, but remember he’s still the same little boy he always was. Now, you will be given the tools you need to help him and your family navigate these waters. You will learn what to do to help calm him down, teach him self calming techniques, etc. It will get better from here on out. You will have set backs, and there may be days where you seem to take two steps back for each step forward, but hang in there. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

  17. Sending you love. So much love, and a hand to hold if you want it. xoxo

  18. I wish I could reach across the country and give you a giant boob-squishing hug.

  19. Sending hugs, virtual wine, and a reminder that you and your family have a strong fortress built on love and laughs. You will all weather this together.

  20. /hug/ I went through this when my 3 year old [at the time] was diagnosed with a speech delay. I went through some of it last year, when my daughter’s 2nd grade teacher asked if we’d ever had her evaluated for ADD/ADHD. I”m in a gray area now. I don’t know. We don’t know. I have my thoughts. The teacher has hers. The pediatrician has his. We wait. We watch. And I dread the call. /hug/

    He is still the same little boy, only now you have extra details to help you help him. Be strong. Question everyone. Follow your gut. Follow your heart.

  21. Those people who say “but”? Ugh. Those people who say, “I love him AND” those are the ones you want to listen to. “I love him, and I want the best for him, and this will help ensure that he gets it”. THOSE are the right words. I’ve answered this call, or variations of it, so many times. I was lucky that the first time was with my daughter, and it was a teacher who I trusted to have her best interests at heart. We started occupational therapy at three, and we’ve been able to give her control of her Asperger’s because of that woman. But the people who had my son two years ago did NOT have his best interests at heart. We were already pursuing every course of action available to us. And yet, they kept calling saying, “but”. I was so glad for that preschool year to end. He’s at a school now for smart kids with unique learning differences. He’s brilliant. And sometimes very angry. And he sometimes hits, and he sometimes cries, and his teacher always loves him. I hope your son’s school really does love him, that they can help you navigate the best things for him. And I understand that dread, and I understand that knowing.

  22. I am sure this doesn’t help you right now, but I think about all the people you are going to help by opening up conversations about this with your blog. I think how helpful you, your amazingly strong and hilarious self, will be to so many going through the same thing with no one to talk to about it.

  23. You are all kidding, right? I’ve never read this woman’s post before, but I’m a mom all the same. And an Auntie and a great Auntie, and a cousin, and a Godmother, and my older sister (who’s the best human being I know) is mentally about at 3rd grade level on a good day. Not to mention my nephew who is dual/triple diagnosed in today’s system. These people are NOT something to mourn after….YOU have been chosen. YOU have been designated by God to be in this Angel’s life! NO, it’s not easy, NO, it’s not fun and you don’t feel priveledged to get the “call”. But, but, but, please thank the heavens above your child is strong enough for you to have to wait for someone to call you to tell you he/she is ‘screwed up’ in one way or the other. Don’t you remember when you were pregnant and praying you just had a healthy baby with 10 toes and 10 fingers? Life could be a lot worse. Heads up!

    • No, they’re not “kidding”. They are being supportive. They are supporting my pain that his road will be more difficult than other children. We are not apologizing because he is different. We are holding each other because the road will be harder for him. There is something you missed here. Generally, I ignore mean comments,but, not when it’s about my child. “It could be worse…” is an evil phrase meant to illegitimize and weaken the fears of others. It is cruel. Your troubles are yours. Mine are mine and we are asked to share each other’s burdens with love. So, no…they’re not kidding.

  24. I was given a story when my son was born
    about a woman who dreamed of Italy , she packed and planned and talked about all the beautiful things she would do in Italy. But when her plane landed she
    was in Holland. It was not Italy, not what she planed but she found if she looked around she would see the beauty of Holland with the windmills and tulips. So many beautiful tulips. It wasn’t Italy and she was sad but if she dwelled on it she would miss all the beauty of Holland.

  25. My oldest is 6.5,and we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. For now. He was evaluated (at our insistence) at age 3, we spent many afternoons in occupational therapy, speech therapy, and counseling. We were lucky these services were available, and that we were willing to do the hard work. The feelings are genuine, that you are feeling. We aim for perfect, and life is just not. I love him fiercely, and wouldn’t change a thing. Please reach out, ask us anything. Any of us who’ve been through anything will be here for you, and your baby.

  26. M. Parker says:

    speaking as one who went through it all, from your son’s point of view (my parents got the call, when I was in 1st grade) and one who has, over the years, learned how to manage my life, while embracing my learning disability + raging ADHD, I would like to offer you the best advice I can – don’t make a big deal of it in front of your son. Don’t discuss labels or diagnosis in front of him with care providers or healthcare professionals. A label is like giving him a limit – you only need to try this much or, you can only achieve this far.
    I can personally attest to the fact that, sometimes labels are bullshit and other times, they’re like weights around our necks. Sometimes we use them as a shield, other times, as a crutch. In our worst moments, they become our excuses.
    I’m still afflicted with LD and very severe ADHD (only now, I’m 38 and have to discuss my labels with the doctors and such) but I’m also incredibly self aware, I’ve learned my weaknesses, I know my strengths and I use this information to carve out a pretty damn fine life for myself. Sure, maybe I didn’t go to college or get my life in order right away after high school like most of my peers, maybe it took me a little longer than some to find my direction but, I eventually figured it all out and stopped drifting through life… and now, I kick life’s ass! Single mom, full time student (with a 3.8 GPA no less!), small business owner and (here’s the really cool one) I’m even a Guinness World Record holder. And I owe all this to the simple fact that my parents never acted like they or I should expect anything less from me than someone would expect from any typical child. They didn’t tell me I had a label. I had an IEP throughout elementary, middle and high school, but I never knew about it. In fact, I didn’t know until a few years ago, when I enrolled in college. I didn’t know I was wearing a sticker with limitations printed on it and so, I worked hard, I did my best, I put my heart and soul into everything I did, and I’m so much better for it now.

    • “Don’t discuss labels or diagnosis in front of him with care providers or healthcare professionals.”

      This is fantastic advice. My son was ADHD, OCD, and had a speech problem. We did not discuss it or dwell on it; just take the steps needed to overcome it! It fact we just called the OCD medicine his “night time sleep” medicine.

      I also believe that many times these kids are the absolute smartest!

  27. Hey mama. This is your journey but we are all here. We will be here to listen. To give you hugs when you need them most. To celebrate all the break-through moments to come. We are here with you.

  28. My heart hurts for you both, but it’s held together with love and hope, and with the desire to huddle over your heart, humming loudly. I love you, my friend.

  29. Susan Smith says:

    My son was in early intervention and I am sure my daughter will as well. Years ago they didn’t have programs like this and we should be counting our blessings, but that doesn’t make it easier to accept that your perfect little angel is not “normal”. Actually, I found myself realizing that the NORM is just an average of those that are over achievers, and those that are not quite as ambitious. It means nothing more. Your little boy is no worse off than he was yesterday or the day before. He is and always will be special. As mother’s we tend to view these things more critically than we should and with a healthy measure of guilt. We are the cheerleaders and advocates for our little people. We are the ones who will help them through any struggle. And through every struggle out hearts will break for them, but we will never let them down. No matter what.

  30. I have gotten “the call” at least once a year since my son started school. He has dyslexia and dysgraphia and just can’t sit still, be quiet, or leave anyone else alone, all rolled into one. He’s been called everything from impossible and difficult, to spirited and unique lol. Once you find your “groove” it gets a bit easier. We have found a lot of books helpful, activities to help learn to stay on task, and as he gets older we work on “exercises” he can do to help him to focus and not distract others during the school day. It just takes time, patience, and a lot of deep breaths and consistency. I promise it will get easier! Just keep loving him and trying your best and he will do the same!

  31. I have never commented on your posts before but I felt like this was a good opportunity. My son is 4 and has Aspergers, an autism spectrum disorder. We just found out this past summer though I had been researching for a long time and sort of knew this was coming. What others have said about not dwelling on his diagnosis is the best advice I can think of. Try your best to focus on the future for him. I now celebrate my son’s differences, there are definitely times when I think “what if” but for the most part I think he is a quirky little genius and I wouldn’t want him any other way! It is a grieving process, no matter what you are feeling it is exactly what you should be feeling at this time. Good luck with everything.

  32. Beautifully put. That’s all that needs to be said.

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