Hi, Blog! Meet Cal. He’s my 6-yr old nephew: an incredibly sweet boy with a world of potential. You’ve probably seen him before in pictures, or mentioned in stories, or photographed on Instagram. We live in the same town and spend a lot of time with him.
But you probably guessed that.
What most people in my life don’t know is that he’s more than just my nephew. I’m his guardian – or co-guardian – along with my mom. I’ve been writing this post – in some form or fashion – for almost a year now. And I’m finally ready to “out” myself and start talking about it. So here we go.
His mom, my sister, left him on a Saturday night while we were getting pizza.
In October of last year, there was a lot happening in our family. We moved to a new town. We were doing major renovations to our home. And we shared a 3-bedroom apartment with my mom, my sister, my nephew, our two dogs, our active 1 yr old, and Chris and I for FOUR weeks. It was hot. It was crowded. It was difficult. But it forced us to see how Cal was being cared for. And we got worried.
One minute she was here, the next she was gone.
And just like that, he was in our lives. And that’s the way it’s been for almost a year.
Cal is a kindergartener. He is loving and kind. He loves the color orange, animals, the train, his friends at school. He wears glasses and is learning to read. He loves “craft time” and often insists on it. He counts past 20. He loves his cousin Max. He loves “helping” around the house. He hugs and kisses and loves and thanks EVERYONE who is kind to him. And that is why he wins over every teacher, every care giver, he has had.
Cal is also learning impaired. I hate that term, but it’s the best way I have to describe it. He’s not autistic. He doesn’t have a specific term for his diagnosis. He’s just .. Cal. And Cal doesn’t always feel like pottying on the potty. And he has trouble listening in school. And he can’t follow instructions unless you’re quiet, calm, and clear with him. And he drools. And he is difficult. And stubborn.
And we have had a lot of catch up work to do. When he first came under our care, he was barely speaking. He didn’t know letters or numbers or how to write. He was rough with other kids, with Max, and our dogs. He never listened. He played in the street no matter how many times we told him not to. He wet his pants regularly. He had a dozen cavities. He wouldn’t eat. And some of that still persists. And we’re working on it.
We have had so many moments in the last year where we have honestly asked ourselves if we could really do this. To be fair, it’s a huge undertaking to take care of anyone else’s kid. And when they have a host of baggage, it’s pretty easy to say no. But I think we honestly asked ourselves that question so many times because of the weight of its meaning.
And it’s not until we start listing alternatives that we realize – YES. Yes, we can do this. And we have to do this. Because we love him.
There are also a lot of awesome parts. Little stuff, like when he makes Max laugh while we’re waiting in a long line, and big stuff, like when he tells us how happy he is. And I can’t wait to share all that stuff. Because we all have battles. We all have challenges. And seeing others work through it inspired me when I needed it most.