I have a video of one of the boys. We were on a train, trundling down to London. Watching the world whizz by in a blur. Occasionally focusing on something, a shopping centre, a flock of sheep, a river flowing under a bridge. Those moments were crystal clear images, a snapshot, a clarity, that was gone in a second.
The video has one of my boys talking to himself, filming his reflection in the window. He was talking to himself. He was focusing on the clarity he could see on his screen. His image. Himself. Behind him, the world rushed past, but in the video, he saw himself clearly.
The talking, his commentary is not clear enough to hear or to understand. I often wonder what he was saying. I wonder what he would say to his reflection through the years.
At 8 he had had his first Christmas with his new family. We had opened some of the presents. We were having breakfast. I asked them both if they had got what they wanted for Christmas. He said, “Yes, a family Christmas.”
At 9, 10 and 11 we were struggling with school. They couldn’t or wouldn’t understand his needs. If he was in a wheelchair, they wouldn’t have said he should be walking, because all the other children are. That’s what they were wanting him to do. They were wanting to force a square peg into a round hole. His Grandma had to collect after yet another phone call from school. As she walked into the main hall she saw him lying face down on the floor, with two members of staff holding him down. His Grandma told them to let him go, he ran into his Grandma’s arms and sobbed. Years later when he recalled the incident he said he had been scared. That he was trying to escape from them. That they hurt him.
At secondary school it was different. The staff understood him. They “got” him. He still gave them the runaround. He challenged them. He was defiant. He sometimes was in their face, but he didn’t scare them. They didn’t scare him. He said the staff cared for him. They understood him. They looked out for him. He said they liked him.
In his teens, he is hunting for himself. Searching for who he is, who he should be, who he wants to be. He is fighting the demons of the past. The demons of now. The demons of the future. Can he be who he wants to be? Who he can be? Who he should be? Will his future be defined by his past? By others expectations? By “what usually happens”? He said he has plans. For a job. For home. For a family. For a future. He has said he will not be what they expect him to be. He said he wants to be happy.
He has said he can see the demons keep pulling him back. His past is trying to tie him down.
But he keeps taking a step forward. One at a time.
In his reflection, he can play back. He can see how far he has come. The challenges he has overcome. He is keeping his reflection in his brain, to start to rebuild those broken connections. He is keeping his reflection in his heart. To repair his broken self, and to be proud of who he is.