Like Father, Like Son

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“All these adults around and they yell Sonny come get him/ Quiet as kept doctors think he may have autism”- Sonny

As you should know by now that I am a father of 3 young kids with my oldest being 7 and my youngest just turning 2 but today I’m focusing on my son Reid who is 3 and a half years old. My son Reid saved my life and family in many ways because before him, I was the last Grayson in my family and now the Grayson can live as long as the cops and other people allowed it to live on. By no means am I devaluing my 2 daughters, Morgan and Hannah but to have the opportunity to raise a boy into a man is one of the most rewarding yet challenging tasks of all time but I’ve been challenged in some way since the beginning so why not add another challenge to my belt. He is the lady killer whether it was the big brown eyes to the curly fro to the long eyelashes (only women say that part though) to his smile and laughter. At the end of all of this I can proudly say that Reid is my son. All my friends were happy that I was having a boy. I can remember Quianna telling me in Shoppers that she might be pregnant and how excited I was. Like I jumped and click my heels together. I think that was the same time an earthquake happened in Baltimore as well is that a coincidence maybe and if so my bad.

I will never forget how Reid was born in the first place. It was a regular appointment for Quianna and she had her whole day planned out. She was going to the doctor then grabs a McDonalds Steak, egg and cheese meal then takes a nap. After the nap go to Bowie to meet up with Shanice and turn in some books at the Bowie bookstore and then another nap then another meal. That’s one hell of a plan. But at the doctor’s appointment they said Reid wasn’t moving. Apparently, he was stuck because he couldn’t move anymore and they didn’t want to risk any problems so on December 17th instead of December 26th he was born into the world with a head full of hair and bronze skin.

Reid is a normal kid and did normal kid shit and he could do nothing wrong. It wasn’t until his first birthday when things began to change starting with his first seizure. I’ve never seen that before and I was shook. I mean it was fever induced but for it happen 2 more times within a year. I was on Google faithfully which is a huge mistake because I googled a headache and the next thing you know it says symptom could lead to brain exploding so fuck this won’t be doing that anymore.  Every now and then Quianna would ask me if I thought something was wrong with Reid and I would answer with ‘nah yo stop trippin’. But mothers be knowing for real and to hear that just rang the alarm but I kept hitting the snooze button because I wasn’t even trying to think about no shit like that. As he got older he was so fascinated with Vinko the Dancing Bear and it just kept growing and growing until one night he didn’t want to go to sleep and all he kept saying was Vinko and it brought me and Quianna to tears because we live in society where labels mean everything and no matter what there is always someone trying to create a label. See I’m his father and I didn’t want my son as a target of any kind and I damn sure didn’t want it to start at such an early age. I brought these concerns to my mom and dad and then the news they told me had me slumped like a cup full of lean. Apparently there was a point in time where doctors thought I would have a mental disability. I was about 2 years old failed some test doctors tried to label me and moms was like ‘fuck that my son isn’t mentally challenged we are going to work this shit out what resources are available”. I didn’t know that I went to 5 elementary schools before the 3rd grade and was almost kicked out of 2 of them for behavior issues. There was one incident where a kid was bothering and I hit him with a chair and knocked out a couple of teeth so of course that’s not going to fly in these streets. Doctors made the suggestion that I should be in smaller classrooms and I guessed that worked because from the age of 7 until college I was in the Gifted and Talented Program in the Baltimore school system and now I have 2 degrees from established college with the emphasis on Engineering.

Fast forward twenty some years later, is this deja-vu all over again and now the student becomes the teacher. Reid’s speech isn’t as good as I would like so we reached out to Infants and Toddlers and did an initial evaluation and they had their concerns but the prognosis was very promising. See he has some strengths but he has some weaknesses. For example when he was one and got his first hair cut he didn’t move it was like the barber was sculpting a statue; but now he has some moments where I’m looking at him and my eyes are telling him, ‘son we looking bad as a unit-Kevin hart voice’. He doesn’t like his face washed or hair brushed but that could be normal kid shit and when the father is heavy handed maybe just maybe he wouldn’t like that shit either. There were numerous appointments with various professionals and they all came up with the same conclusion; there isn’t enough to say yes to autism but it isn’t enough to say no either. It was getting frustrating because there was no definitive answer so this cloud of mystery was over my head and consistently eating at me. Why my son man why anybody’s kid for that matter but I reminded of the mighty God we serve and realize that I’m just another soldier in the field of battle and my Commander hasn’t failed me yet so why would he do that now. One of the recommendations they implemented was a teacher visiting him at daycare once a week. I was unemployed at the time so I was able to go to all these appointments which could have been a blessing in disguise because now I see firsthand what the teachers are doing while learning techniques I can use at home. He was only 18 months old at the time but it wasn’t until we were at church when all these feelings came back up again.

He is in church school with the young kids his age and of course he has so much energy therefore he’s gonna run. But we have a lot of educators so they pick up on these things so after church she went and sat Quianna and expressed her concerns and when she told me in the car all I can do is break down man. I haven’t cried this much in my life but when it comes to my kids especially my son my emotions take over. It was like a punch in the gut because in my mind I’m like ‘damn yo didn’t we just do this shit 18 months ago now you wanna do it again’. I don’t want to keep subjecting him  to all these tests while they poked and prod at him like he’s an animal but then again I want to know what’s up with my boy so I can prepare him as best as humanly possible. I know there will be a time when I won’t be on this Earth to physically protect him and I know he will be on his own but until that day comes I want him to be as skilled as everyone put together. I don’t want any limitations put on my son. After lots of prayer and deep conversations with my wife we began the process of getting him tested again. I keep telling myself this is for the better so don’t let anything discourage you. Recently, we began this journey at Kennedy Krieger and it just brought me back to memory lane. I was so nervous sitting on pins and needles because one bad test and your kid is labeled forever (squintz voice from the Sandlot). In my opinion these assessments are entirely too long like we were in there for 3 hours and by hour 2 he was done. At first I was mad at him but then I began to think, shit I’m a grown man and after 3 hours of non-stop work I’m done too. After the evaluation she brings up back in the room and guess what….inconclusive results so back to square one but this time we have a meeting with the medical director and that’s when the diagnosis will be given

That day has arrived and I’m stressed. I’m nervous yet relieved at the same time because I just want my boy to be ok and if there is something wrong where are the resources because he will still have every chance every other kid has. She is a black woman which is refreshing and she does her question asking phase and it’s like a timer is set because around hour number 2 he starts bugging again and not answering any questions. In my mind I’m like ‘come on yo you buggin right now in front of the director though’, but what I didn’t realize is that my parental instincts were taking over because I would rather this happen to me instead of him. Anything bad that’s gonna happen I want it to happen to me instead of my son but Quianna held my hand and whispered it will be ok and from that moment I was ok. It was like God spoke to me through her and my whole aura went back to being even-keel. The evaluation is over and she says, “I don’t want to put a false label on this young man because he is the future and he has a chance to be great. There are some strengths but there are some weaknesses so I’m going to defer any diagnosis for one year but I strongly recommend speech and behavior therapy. As a matter of fact I will write the referral now.” See this diagnosis was different than the others. Sure they said the same thing but the conviction in her voice made it reassuring that if you do this he will be ok. In my heart I believe God was speaking to me again but this time using the medical director. It was like HE was giving us the blueprint and if we follow Him everything will be alright all we have to do is trust Him. There was a moment where I took Reid out and put him in the car but when the medical doctor and Quianna spoke it was another reassuring moment.

Medical director: “I’m a mother and I’m a doctor and with all the knowledge I have the one piece of advice I have for you is that there is only one true doctor and you know who He is so remain faithful”

Quianna: “I do know and I will do just that”

That exchange was something from a movie but when you get 2 mothers together powerful moments of candor and genuine expression begin to hit its zenith. We are on to the next step of this journey and I can’t help to think that I and Reid are both characters in the Inside Out movie (which is his favorite by the way go figure) but the emotions that we both go through are uncanny. I love you son and I pray for you and your well-being every day and hopefully I can see you flourish but son we are living in a wicked world and nothing is promised anymore. I will do the best I can but Trust in the Lord with your whole heart and never lean on your own understanding.

I hope this inspires someone because you are not alone. Who knows you may have resources that I’m not aware about. We are in this together and since it takes a village to raise a child let the village people unite. It’s imperative that we unite now because he as well as all of us are at risk to be hunted like an animal which is what most of the majority thinks of us anyway. You look at my son and you can’t tell nothing is wrong with him so if I can’t and I’m his father imagine what these other people are going to think. Son until my last breath you will be protected and even after that you will be protected even more because as an angel I would be more protective than I am now and that’s a scary sight. Save our kids save our lives.

Love you son…

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