All posts filed under: Essays Archive

Spinning

B Side We had hardly anything but proximity and seasons of birthing in common.  Only a couple of leaves still clung to the trees and the wind whipped against our cheeks, but my neighbor and I still ambled down our street because we had strollers and a lot of quiet. My daughter’s afro puffs and her son’s wisps of blond hair were barely visible over the top of the strollers.  She texted me to tell me about her son’s autism diagnosis; her son would start at our neighborhood school in the exceptional children’s program next month. My daughter began in the exceptional children’s program two months before, at a school that treated exceptional children as a euphemism for difficulty learning, where the fence stopped before it made its way around the playground. A playground that sat next to the city bus stop on the busy street the school was named for. Even though we pushed our strollers down our neighboring driveways to meet for our walks, she had her son placed in a school right …

Our Journey to an Autism Diagnosis

When my son Miyka-EL, affectionately known by his middle name Elijah, was born nearly 25 years ago, I did not know that he would be diagnosed with a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that would shape our lives in so many ways. Going into labor at only six months into my pregnancy, Elijah, my miracle baby, was born at 24 weeks and weighed only 1lb 6oz. Elijah was so small he could fit in the palm of your hand. Unbeknownst to me, there was another conversation happening among the doctors and nurses. One doctor who examined my baby eventually broke the huddle and talked to me. He discussed how babies my son’s size didn’t have a significant chance of surviving.  The doctor asked if I wanted to hold my son in my arms until he died or if the team of doctors should continue to work on him. At that moment, my tears dried, and I immediately felt a warm sensation over my body; I was beyond angry.  How dare he offer my son life or death.  …

The Noise of Living

Maceo stands bent over his knees, gliding his feet across the multi-colored carpet, lost in the patterns, lost in the repetition. He swings his swollen, blistered fingers like propeller blades between his teeth. He propels oohs and moos between spit-covered fingers, becoming louder and faster, gaining momentum. Attempting to fly. “Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye,” Maceo says, each word drawing him deeper into his world. Instead of soaring, Maceo flings himself back onto the couch, crashing into its center. He giggles and wiggles into position before picking up his iPad and launching into his favorite car racing game. He bursts out laughing as he attacks the on-screen controls for accelerating the race car and increasing the volume of the game’s music. He usually covers his ears with his thumbs when he hears loud noises. He stiffens his fingers in the air like moose antlers as a distress signal. As he plays, colors flash across his face like a kaleidoscope. In the quiet living room, onomatopoeic sounds collide. From the dining room table, his father, eldest brother, and …

When Nursing Wasn’t Enough: This is My Past

My milk was starting to come in, and I went to the salon. I had to have my hair done. People were coming to the house, coming to see the new babies, twins, and I wanted to at least look better than what I felt. My hair was a matted mess from days of being uncombed. I’d skipped more than a couple showers, more than a couple hours of sleep. So, couldn’t I get a few of those hours back and get my hair done? But the babies were hungry, and my milk was just starting to come in. I nursed them, but then went on to my appointment. My stylist turned the chair to face the mirror where I could see myself. Where I could see the flat iron smoothing the coils and the kinks to a mahogany flow. I felt a sense of relief—a moment for myself. “Look at you, already out the house. Who’s watching them babies?” “My mom.” I pulled out my phone, showed her the pics. The boy, the girl, …

Keep Up With Your Stuff

When my twelve-year-old daughter, Adelia, lost her wallet on the public city bus, I was actually pretty proud of her. For several weeks, she had been taking two trains in the morning (with a transfer at one of the busiest central transit stations in the country) to get to her new middle school and then two buses to get back home, and not a water bottle nor a notebook had been left behind. Her father and I marveled at her punctuality, and an attentiveness so attuned that she had recently found time to grab a donut while waiting for the second train. But Adelia was distraught when I picked her up that afternoon, her voice edged with tears as she recounted leaving the wallet on the seat next to her.  I listened to her wail and then gently hushed her, saying “Honey, it’s fine! It’s just a wallet.” It was a plain brown wallet that used to belong to her dad, and it only contained her school identification, her trans-pass, and $12, all items that …