Parenthood made me cry last night. This is not a huge surprise as the most memorable moment of the 1989 movie was that moment when Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen are in school office and officials there are telling them that there is something wrong with their son, and maybe he should stay back.
The heartbreak on their faces went right through me.
I've been in that position now, many more times than I can count; not always in a school office, more often in a doctor's office. You move on, you move past it and deal with reality, but that moment that someone tells you that your child is going to have problems splits your heart in two.
Things are a little different now than they were in 1989 when the movie came out. Special needs children are handled differently now, and more common. Autism diagnoses are approaching 1 in 100 kids. This is the new normal.
Still. When it's your child, the world stops for a moment.
Last night too, the diagnostic forms we sent to Pumpkin's teacher a couple of weeks ago came home in his backpack. The sheer volume of things observed or listed as "often" was so disheartening. On the one hand, I'd been warned before the school year started that she might be challenged by Pumpkin, and I found myself wondering if that affected her view of him. Indeed the second teacher had more frequently chosen "sometimes." On the other hand, as with Tigger's ADHD evaluation, perhaps it's better that there is no room for doubt.
So on the show last night, when little Max's father admitted to his own father and to himself, that there was indeed something wrong with his son, I lost it. When the show was over I went upstairs to sit on Pumpkin's bed, stroke his hair and squeeze his hand. He slept on, oblivious.
Sometimes I just have to marvel at the forces that brought this child into my life, both of them really. Whatever it was that compelled me to adopt, drove me relentlessly into this role no one in my family thought I could handle. Some days, they're right.
Most days they are not.