This clip sums up Koan’s holiday experience better than anything I could write. The enhanced slow-motion on my iPhone is so much fun! While this is only a two-minute video, he went on like this for the better part of an hour. It was the perfect storm of joy. He had his entire family there, watching and giving him attention. There was wrapping paper to crinkle and plastic packing material to toss about. And, what’s not shown in the video is a small school bus toy that plays “Wheels on the Bus”. He would go from one thing (the paper), to another (the plastic), to another (the toy), then back again. The R2D2 stocking cap was also pretty cute, too.
So, as you can surmise, Koan had a pretty great holiday. But, unlike the rest of the family, he was ready for it to be over a few days sooner than everyone else. On New Years Day, which was a Monday, Jeri noticed something hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. As I’ve shared before, Koan’s room is by the front door to the house. This is the door that we use to send him off to school. In our entryway, we have a floor to ceiling window that is just to the right of the front door. We keep a wicker box for our shoes in front of this window. Across from Koan’s room and to the right of the entryway is our dining room. While we do have a dining room table, we don’t use it much as so it also works as ad-hoc storage — particularly for Koan’s stuff. We keep Koan’s Convaid (wheelchair) just inside the dining room by the front door. On a typical school day, we load Koan up into his Convaid right in the entryway and then send him out the front door to meet the wonderful transportation team from CCSD. On weekends or longer holidays, it’s not unusual for us to find Koan in the dining room playing with his Convaid: pulling the straps and trying to pull it out into the entryway. That’s his subtle way of telling us that he’s bored with us at home and would rather be at school. But, on New Years Day he was doing something a little different.
That morning I was upstairs in the office doing reading the Hawkeye message boards. Jeri called up to me asking me to come downstairs. It was 8:30 AM. Koan had scooted into the entryway — nothing unusual about that. But, he had pulled the wicker basket we use to hold shoes back from the window. He had positioned himself in that space directly in front of the window, his nose against the cold glass, turning his head from side to side. He was looking up and down our street for the school bus! Keep in mind that his last day of school before break was Thursday, December 21st. But, somehow he knew that it was Monday. Both Jeri and I had taken the same amount of time off as Koan. So, it was hard for us to keep track of days of the week. Here’s the other kicker — Koan also knew that he normally get’s picked up on school days at 8:30. So, there he is, face against the glass at 8:30 on Monday longingly looking for his school bus. As time passed, he became more and more agitated — not completely sad, not totally angry/frustrated, but some mix of all those emotions. Around 8:45, he finally gave up hope and scooted into his room to play. It was one of the funniest and saddest things I’ve ever seen.
On Tuesday, he gave a repeat performance. And, again, it made me mist up and laugh at the same time. Culinary science has proved what most of us already know — when you mix something salty with something sweet, it tastes really good. The saltiness accentuates the sweetness. That’s a pretty good analogy for life with Koan, too. This mixing of powerful and apparently incongruent emotions really heightens and enriches all of our lives that are intertwined with Koan. I can’t really put it any other way than this: it feels really good to experience profound and powerful emotions. It’s life-affirming. Again, it’s not all sunshine, flowers, and candy, however. There are really difficult things that come with Koan’s condition. There’s lots of extra work and worry. But, this is one more example of why having him around feels like such a huge net gain.
School was set to resume on Wednesday. Koan was thrilled when he saw we were following his school day routine: getting him up earlier, putting his socks on before breakfast (on a non-school day we don’t bother with socks because he takes them off so quickly). But, Koan, again, was the only one in the house who was unhappy with the two-hour start delay due to record cold. He got over it pretty quickly when he saw the school bus stop in front of the house.