If you came over to my house right now, the first thing that would happen is that Ben would take you by the hand and show you his treehouse. He is exceedingly proud of it even though it is simply a tree, with good limbs for climbing, and he can stand in it and see the world from a wonderfully high vantage point. What does make it special though is that he has fashioned a world of shelves, zip lines, pulley systems and grappling hooks, all from cardboard boxes and red craft yarn. He has a lot of plans… and I don’t always know what to say yes to, if he has a grip on reality or not. Will he actually try to use the crocheted zip line? Will he hurt someone with the coat hanger grappling hook?
But really, I’m just worried about him falling out of the tree. There is a line of bricks underneath it and the cement walkway to our house is just beside that. I have flashbacks to his drop seizures, of the time he actually did fall out of the tree, slammed his head on the pavement and then had a seizure. Or did he have a seizure and then fall out of the tree? Or the time he fell off the slide and the same thing happened.
For a while there, it was almost easier. There were hard rules: No trees, no tall play structures, no hikes with big cliffy edges, no swimming pools or bonfires. It was clean. Now that he is medicated I am in the murkier waters of balance– how do I let him be a boy? climb trees, fall off his bike, all that delicious kid stuff and still keep him safe?
Yesterday, a neighbor who I shared my concern with, called up to him. “Hey Ben! Why don’t you expand your empire to the magnolia tree?” she pointed to the tree in front of our house with its elegant pink blossoms, placed more delicately in a patch of grass and soft dirt. His eyes got big. He liked the sound of that.
Then he ran to the other side of the house and creeped back behind the jade plants. He squealed with delight, “There’s a clubhouse back here! and tunnels!” He dragged his tiny purple desk chair back there, built a new shelf and attached a shoelace from one tree to the next.
My shoulders dropped. At least for now, he’s at ground level again.
Until he sets his sights on the next adventure of course. I’ll take it though. A moment of reprieve.