Congratulations to Kristi West for, once again, clinching the victory! Her idea for Milton’s Quest secured her 3rd win for this challenge! Fear not, she only submitted 3 ideas…the rest of you have a chance still!
Today’s story idea comes from Holly Becker. Holly had the idea for Marry Christmas two weeks ago. Here’s her newest idea…
Problem- notices 3 year old son does not appear to be developing the same as his peers (speech patterns and social interactions)
Sarah hauled her backpack, cooler and diaper bag all slung over her shoulder as she pushed a stroller. She waved briefly to her girlfriends who were already sitting on benches near the playground.
“Aren’t you so excited for your first play-date, Wesley?” she asked her little boy.
He merely grunted from beneath the layers of coat and blanket and sweaters.
By the time she arrived at the bench, she was winded.
“Man, these strollers just aren’t made for pushing across the grass,” she said, taking a sip from her water bottle. “That kicked my butt. Maybe I need to start running or something.”
“Well, you don’t really have to push Wesley anymore,” Samantha said, sitting with her legs crossed. “He is three.”
“I know. It’s just so much easier with the stroller.”
Sarah pulled Wesley out of his stroller. He didn’t smile. Didn’t look into her eyes. Wasn’t excited. In fact, Wesley didn’t seem to even realize that he was anywhere out of the ordinary.
“You want to play, buddy?” Sarah asked. She looked up at her friends. “This is his first time at a playground.”
“Oh, how fun!” Leslie’s voice was almost to the point of condescension. “I can’t believe you’ve gone this long without bringing him out to one of these play-dates.”
“I know. It just never worked out. You know, it was hard when I was working. I feel like I missed out on so much.”
“Yeah, working mothers don’t get the time with their kids that they really need,” Leslie said. “I mean, really, the time the kids need. It’s a shame.”
“Well,” Sarah said, looking at Leslie out of the corner of her eye. “I’m home with him now.”
She walked Wesley over to the sandbox. He sat down and picked up a handful of sand, letting it run, slowly, through his fingers. Sarah noticed a little girl in the sandbox. She was about the same size as Wesley. She was using a shovel to fill a bucket with sand. She picked out the sticks and rocks and put them into a different bucket.
“Wes, Buddy, you wanna shovel sand into your bucket?” she asked.
Wesley shook his head, not looking at her.
“Okay.” She pulled his chin with her finger so that he would turn his face and look at her. “I’m going to be sitting at that bench over there. If you need me, let me know.”
“Mama,” he said and smiled. Not right at her. But he did smile.
“That’s a good boy.” She gave him a kiss on the forehead.
“So, how’s Wesley doing with potty training?” Samantha asked. “Is he making any progress?”
“Well, he’s regressing a bit. You know, with me being home more. I guess it’s just thrown him off a bit.”
“Oh, look, Sophia’s talking to Wesley,” Leslie said, pointing to the little girl in the sandbox. “She’s such a little social butterfly. I guess she gets it from me.”
Sarah watched the little girl. She chattered on and on about ponies and how she rode one at the zoo. Wesley simply continued letting the sand go through his fingers. He didn’t even acknowledge her.
“He doesn’t talk much, does he?” Leslie asked.
“He does enough. He’s just kind of shy,” Sarah said. “Boys just aren’t as verbal as girls, I guess.”
“I don’t know,” said Samantha. “Andrew is just two and is talking up a storm all the time. I can’t get the kid to shut up. I swear he’s about to drive me crazy.”
Why would she ever want him to shut up, Sarah wondered. I just with Wesley would start getting more words out.
“Well, I’m just so glad that he’s here to play with your kids.” Sarah sat on the bench.
“It is nice. That way we can compare notes.” Leslie pulled her hair back in a pony tail.
The three women were quiet for a moment. Sarah felt anxious. She feared that Samantha and Leslie were judging her. That they were scrutinizing her every mothering move. That they were keeping track of Wesley’s inadequacies.
She looked at her son. He no longer played with the sand. He was just sitting, rocking slightly, unblinking. His face held no expression. Sophia, Leslie’s perfect and smart and beautiful little girl, continued talking to him. Suddenly, the little girl stood and ran to the ladder of a slide. She climbed the steps.
Wesley can’t do that, Sarah thought. None of it. He can’t do one single thing that she’s doing. No conversations. No eye contact. No coordination. Something is wrong. Something isn’t right with my little boy.
“I have to take Wesley to the bathroom,” Sarah said, standing quickly. She got dizzy, almost to the point of passing out. She regained her head and picked up her little boy. “You guys watch my stuff?”
“Oh course,” Leslie said, pointing to a small building behind them. “The bathroom’s that way.”
Sarah carried Wesley to the bathroom. He struggled, pushing her away, grunting and whining.
“I know, Buddy. I’ll put you down in just a second,” she said.
She pushed the heavy, green and brown door open. She put Wesley on the counter, letting his feet dangle off the edge. She ran the water over her hands, patting the cool onto her face.
I knew something wasn’t right, she thought. But I didn’t want to let it get to me. He’s not growing right. In his head. Is it autism? Oh, God, don’t let it be autism. Did I mess him up with a vaccine? Please, don’t let it be anything I did. I couldn’t live with that.
Sarah wiped her hands on her pants. She looked at Wesley. He was moving his fingers together, eyes fixed on their motion. He hummed so quietly. Not a tune she understood. Very little about him was understandable.
He’s always been slow. I just didn’t know how much. Lord, why me? Haven’t we had enough? I can’t do this, too. And with crappy friends like Leslie and Stephanie. They aren’t going to help me.
Sarah breathed deeply. Pulled the neck of her t-shirt up to wipe her eyes. Gathered Wesley and put him on the floor.
“You wanna try and walk a little?” she asked.
He grunted. She assumed he meant “yes”.
They walked back into the sunshine. A butterfly wisped past them. Sarah knew that Wesley wouldn’t have noticed.
As they walked to the benches, she heard her friends talking.
“She just baby’s him,” Stephanie said. “She needs to expect more from him.”
“What if he’s ‘special’?” Leslie said. “It would figure she wouldn’t know before. She didn’t stay home with him. She probably doesn’t even know him, really.”
“Should we say something to her?”
“She wouldn’t listen anyway. You know, when he was born, I told her she should try using cloth diapers. She didn’t listen. Then, I told her how dangerous formula is. She didn’t listen. She still gave him bottles all the time.” Leslie sighed. “Maybe that’s what’s wrong with him.”
“Well, at least we know we’re doing it right.”
“We’re leaving,” Sarah said.
“Oh, Sarah,” Stephanie said, standing and turning around. “Is everything okay? Did Wesley wet his pants?”
“No, he didn’t,” Sarah said. “In fact, he’s not really doing the potty training thing yet. He’s wearing a diaper. And it is disposable, Leslie.”
“Well, I was just trying to give you a little advice,” Leslie said.
“You know, I never wanted to come on one of these play-dates. I just kept making excuses not to come. Because you are both impossible.” Sarah walked Wesley over to the stroller and packed the bags into the seat. “And I always knew that you were looking down on me. I won’t let you do that to my son, too.”
“Listen, Sarah,” Leslie said, still sitting. “We didn’t know how to tell you this. But, it’s only right. Something is wrong with Wesley. He isn’t developing like he should.”
“You’re wrong,” Sarah said, pulling her car keys from the backpack. “Because my son is developing just right. He’s just different from your kids, is all. He’s going to be just fine. And I won’t let you say those kinds of things in front of him again.”
“We didn’t want to make you mad,” Stephanie said.
“I’m not mad. I just realized something.” Sarah looked at the other women. “My son is amazing.”
She and Wesley walked, hand in hand. She pushed the stroller with her other hand. On the way to the car, Wesley stopped and wouldn’t budge.
“Come on, honey. You want to go home for some lunch?”
He still wouldn’t move.
“What are you doing, Wesley?” she asked.
The little boy stooped and picked a yellow dandelion out of the grass.
“Mama, love,” he said, thrusting the flower to her. “Mama, love.”
She knelt down to him and kissed his face.
“You’re a fantastic boy,” she said.