A friend told me the other day that she likes my blog but it’s so sad she can’t always read through. This took me back a bit, because while Caleb’s is a sad situation, he is one of the funniest people I know. His therapist tells me humor is a sign of deep intelligence, and that Caleb couldn’t be so funny if there wasn’t a lot going on in his head. Let me share a few of my favorite Caleb stories.
When Caleb was five years old, he was in a self-contained class with only three other boys. One of them, Emmanuel, was constantly testing limits and being sent to time-out. Caleb has a heart that hurts when his friends hurt—he was upset for his friend being in time-out and for his teacher being upset because he adored her. So on a December Sunday, when our pastor flung out her arms and proclaimed, “Rejoice! Emmanuel is coming!” Caleb grabbed the arm of my shirt, his face went almost white and he said in a normal voice, not a quiet church voice, “No Emmanuel coming! No!” Caleb was well-loved in that church, so chuckles abounded.
That spring, we were taking a walk in our suburban subdivision, along a path we often walked. There were no farms anywhere near us. Out of one of the bushes popped a rooster. Sophie screamed, I jumped back and Caleb calmly said, “Oh, hi chicken.”
Around this time, we introduced Caleb to miniature golf. Sophie went, I went, then I stood behind Caleb to teach him how to hold his club. He looked at me, looked at the hole, picked up his ball, walked over and dropped it right in. He looked back at me again, like “Why do you make things so hard?”
Caleb loves movies, television shows and music. He memorizes lines and even though it may seem to be above his functioning level, he knows exactly when to use each phrase. When he was in sixth grade, we had friends over for pizza one night. One of them chose a particularly large slice and said, “That’s so big!” Caleb smiled from across the table and said, clear as day, “That’s what she said.” Everyone laughed so hard that he put this phrase into regular rotation. He also picked up “Oh, you gotta be kidding me” from somewhere and that one pops up pretty often too.
We had a pool in the backyard of that house. One day, Caleb was floating around when he noticed the brown house next door was being painted green. His eyes lit up and he said, “Mom, make it red!” pointing to our house. It reminded me of the scene in Sleeping Beauty where the fairies are fighting over a pink or blue dress for Aurora. I would have loved to wave a wand for him and make the whole house red.
Around this time, Caleb broke his femur. He was in a series of body casts for three months and was taking pain medication for a while. Pain meds are notorious for constipation issues, so when his stomach was so swollen it was pushing against the cast, I had to give him an enema. I explained what I was doing, but can anyone really be prepared for those things? As soon as I finished, he looked up at me and said, with perfect diction: “What is wrong with you?” A few minutes passed, the enema did its job and Caleb looked at me and said. “Oh. All better. Thank you.”
Caleb was blessed by a Make-A-Wish trip last year and he chose his favorite place, Disney World. We were walking through Frontierland when Peter Pan came skipping by. Caleb thinks of Peter Pan as a dear friend so when he passed, Caleb just yelled out, “Hey, Peter Pan!” The young man portraying him that day saw the Make a Wish badge in a flash of a second. He stopped hopping and told Caleb where to go wait and he would come see him in a few minutes. Caleb was like, “Yeah, you will. We’re buds.”
My aunt convinced Caleb that he would like the ride Star Tours, which we had never ridden. She said that since all boys like Star Wars, Caleb would love this virtual reality ride. We sat down, buckled ourselves in and in the first millisecond of movement and sound I knew we had made a terrible mistake. Caleb looked at me, eyes afire and clapped his hands in front of my face. I kept telling him I was sorry and that if he closed his eyes it wouldn’t be so bad, but he kept clapping away. I knew he wasn’t in danger of any steep drops and that once the ride was over, he would be fine. His anger was actually a good sign—he focused so much on that that it took his attention off of his fear. As a special needs parent my choice is often either to cry or laugh my ass off and I chose laughter that day. He was totally fine when we got off the ride and to this day, when I mess up or burn his toast or whatever, he says, “Just like Star Tours!” He hasn’t let my aunt live it down either.
Sophie has been dating her boyfriend Al for almost four years. We all adore him. The first time he came to the house to meet Caleb, Sophie primed him with all she could to prepare him for anything Caleb might say or do. Sophie and Al sat in the family room and called for Caleb to come say hi. He did, wearing only a t-shirt. At 14 years old. To this day, Sophie and Al call Caleb Winnie the Pooh, due to the similarity in their wardrobe.
One of Caleb’s favorite movies is Monsters University. Since Caleb is a giant himself, he identifies with Sully. There’s a scene where all the monsters are at a fraternity party, with loud music, strobe lights and lots of dancing. Sully is standing off to the side when Squishy throws an imaginary rope to get Sully to dance. Sully laughs it off, then sort of side-shuffle-dances his way into the crowd. Caleb does the best imitation of this you could imagine. He also does a mean Captain Jack Sparrow.
The incident that led me to write this blog happened just the other night. I had made chicken and baked potatoes for dinner. I haven’t baked potatoes in a long time, so I dressed Caleb’s with sour cream and cheddar cheese, set it before him and then went to get my plate. By the time I sat down, Caleb had picked up his potato, folded it closed and was eating it like a sandwich, skin and all. I started to giggle and said, “Here, honey, eat it like this,” modeling the use of a fork. Caleb shook his head, said, “No. Like this,” and kept chomping away.
I always say that Caleb has had to conform in so many ways to live in our world. I think conforming some of my ways to his is a better idea, because his world is a much more fun place to be.