I have an 18-year-old son who's still watching Dinosaur Train, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
We don’t watch a lot of TV in our house. When my now 21-year old was a babe, he made that decision for us. As a worn-out new mom, I'd put on a 30-minute show to get a little break. When those deliciously quiet few minutes were over, I’d gently suggest that we were “all done” in my best sing-song voice. This child was having none of it. He’d throw a fit legendary for any two-year-old and it would last three times as long as the damn “Arthur” episode.
It was a lot to take. So, one day my husband and I decided it just wasn’t worth it and we cancelled the cable and hid the TV.
Now, 20 years and 5 kids later, we still don’t have cable and TV only comes out on Sunday mornings. This has worked really well for us. All the younger kids know that if they want to watch something, they’ll be able to indulge on Sunday. This way, they're not constantly asking to turn on the tube every time boredom strikes (because they know what the answers will be), and they spend most of their time reading, drawing, playing or going outside.
This has worked beautifully for years, but slowly and insidiously, their content has started to shift. My pre-teen twins are now starting to be drawn to some more mature shows and it’s a bit of a bummer. Gone are the sweet days of Busytown Mysteries or Kipper (oh, how I loved darling Kipper!) and Dinosaur Train.
But Kelly still watches. This morning he has the TV to himself because the twins are away on a sleepover. Most Sundays, he chooses not to watch with his brothers and I set up an iPad for him, but today he has the loft and the big TV to himself and I can hear him chuckling from down below. It’s such a delightful sound, I climb the stairs to investigate.
There he is, all cross-legged and cozy, enjoying the simple pleasures of Dinosaur Train.
My heart swells with love for this person. I am so thankful to have this 18-year-old sage in my life! I have been blessed with lots of boys, so I know the typical trajectory: Even with our Sunday rule, I’m going to lose my ten-year-olds in about two years (and I know we’re probably way outside the norm here, but that’s the gift of Sundays). All too soon I’m going to have to be screening for inappropriate and violent content. I’m going to be desperately hanging on the the last shreds of their innocence and it’s going to inevitably slip from my grasp.
This comparison is what makes me treasure my cross-legged boy. I know where “normal” leads and I’ve had plenty of it, thanks. I’m happy to take a break from the typical teenager. I’ve done it twice and am in the middle of my third go ‘round, and frankly, it’s exhausting. I’m down on my knees thanking the gods above that I was blessed with Kelly. Every day (and I mean EVERY day) when I pick Kelly up from school, I ask how his day is and the reply is an enthusiastic, “Really great!” And, ya know what? It actually was. There was no high school drama, no catty social media posts to cause upset, no anxiety over grades or social insecurity. With Kelly, we don't have to worry about drinking or drugs or depression (such intense stuff!), we just relax into the simple pleasures of life, and it’s absolutely delightful!
Last week we took him to New York City to watch his oldest brother graduate from college. This was kind of a default choice. We only had four tickets to the graduation, so we couldn’t take the whole family. Kelly’s schedule is also a bit more complicated than the other kids, so it was easier to just bring him along. I was a bit unsure as to how things were going to unfold, but as usual, Kelly’s presence was a gift to us.
He sat through the three hour-long, dry ceremony and did not make a peep--no sighs, no complaints. I sat next to a well-coiffed woman who’s daughter was born and raised in Manhattan. She glanced to my left and caught a glimpse of Kelly and quickly averted her eyes. This was my cue to engage her in conversation. (I can never let that shit go unprobed.)
I know from experience that she is probably terrified. To her, Kelly is a living example of her worst nightmare. She’s there to watch her daughter graduate from one of the top schools in the city and Kelly represents the appalling opposite of that. I chatter on about my boy that is graduating today too, and how the majority of his siblings did not make the cut to attend; only Kelly got the privilege. She’s forced to acknowledge him then. She glances over and says, “He’s sweet. God bless him.”
This ridiculous, condescending statement makes me laugh (I think the word “guffaw” might be what I’m looking for here, because that’s pretty much what I do...right in her face. I cannot help myself). I just reply, “He is the delight of my life. You have no idea.” I raise the hand that is intertwined with mine and give it a kiss. He leans into me and puts his head on my shoulder. I do not offer this woman any more of my time.
Kelly turns our to be our greatest teacher on this trip. I don’t know why I’m surprised, he teaches me something every day, but my brain resets to “typical” each morning and Kelly’s simple lessons always seem to take me by surprise.
I’d been dreading this trip to the city. Being a sensory sensitive individual, the sights and sounds and smells of Manhattan are completely overwhelming to me. I thought this would be true for Kelly as well, and I was worried about it. But he completely takes me by surprise and delights in the city. He tells me he wants to live there with his brother. As I am miserably tiptoeing past a man hosing down the sidewalk in front of a building, cringing as the urine infused water splashes onto the backs of my bare calves, Kelly is simply delighting in all the action around him. I look at his wonder and it makes me stop and consciously relax. I force myself to lighten the hell up. Country mouse has got to get the f*ck over herself and try to enjoy her surroundings! Right then and there, I shift my thoughts from my splattered calves and I look up. In front of me is a beautifully ornate building--carvings made by hand long before power tools were even a thing. It’s truly a wonder and I would have missed it if I didn’t have Kelly by my side.
The lessons continue. At a the rooftop graduation party on the Upper West Side, he was the first to notice the brilliant sunset reflected in a wall of glass.
The next day, as we walked through Central Park, he nudged us into the Central Park Zoo, where we were surprised to find a sweet oasis full of heart.
And when the day was done, and our exhausted selves pulled out the foam bed in our Airbnb only to discover it was 1/3 plywood and not suitable for sleep, Kelly happily climbed in and made do. No whining, no complaints. He just made it work. We fell into sleep grateful for our delightful travelling companion.
If you told me 18 years ago that my adult child would still be choosing to watch Dinosaur Train on his Sunday morning, I probably would have curled into a ball and wept. But that version of me also would have looked sideways at Kelly in Lincoln Center, feeling sorry for him and his mom, not understanding that there are all kinds of knowledge and all kinds of people and we all have value.
Kelly is my live-in sage. When I fall into my typical human patterns, he reminds me to check my judgement, to not diminish something that I don’t understand, even (or maybe especially) if it scares me. Go ahead, open up and take a closer look. There very well be some beauty that you missed.
When I first heard this song by The Killers, it immediately made me think of Kelly. It came on today and he let me take some footage of his moves. My god, I love this person.
The next time someone tries to “bless him”, I think I’m going to reply with,
“I got news for you baby, you’re looking at The Man!"
My doTERRA essential oils are the first tools I reach for when it comes to the health care of my kids, and they are especially helpful with Kelly. He won't swallow a pill, so the aromatic and topical use of these pure and potent plant compounds are incredible at supporting his respiratory and immune health (Breathe respiratory blend sits near his bed at all times!)
If you would like some more information on how to use doTERRA products for your family, or specifically for your special needs or sensitive child, please feel free to contact me below. I'd love to help! I understand the chemistry and the "how and why" of essential oils, so I can help you choose the right products for your family and your own unique needs. Let's talk!