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Full Circle

When I was three, I was driving with my dad to go pick up pizza. I vividly remember this event. I looked out to the right side of the truck above the pines (where incidentally, I happen to be renting a house at right now.) It was dusk. I saw a huge swarm of little black things flying above the pines. I screamed, because I thought they were bats.

Promptly, my dad calmed me down. “Dawn, those are not bats. Those are the birds that come out at night.”


For a second I thought they were bats.

I was embarrassed when at twenty, I was sitting on the front porch with my old in-laws (I’m now divorced from my first husband) and I saw those birds. My old mother-in-law said, “OOOH, look at all those bats!”

I told her. “Oh Sue, those aren’t bats, those are the birds that come out at night.” All of my in-laws started laughing at me. That’s when it dawned on me that my dad had fibbed to me to get me to settle down. In my embarrassment, I told myself, I would never fib to my children.

My step son has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which is caused when a woman drinks while she is pregnant. He’s five. I’ve spoken about him on here before. He’s always a challenge.  My days with him consist of walking on eggshells quite regularly. He has many challenges due to his disability. He has impulse control problems, especially if he’s had any food coloring. He has temper tantrums that rival my two year olds. To try to subside these tantrums, I’ve sewn a heavy shirt for him to wear, instead of punching me and we give him Hyland’s Calms. He is not nighttime potty trained yet, and he might not be for quite some time.  For a brief time, we were buying pull-ups for him, until I managed to convince him that the large Perfect Size Fuzzi Bunz turned backwards were night-time underpants, not diapers. I am absolutely amazed that the large Perfect Size Fuzzi Bunz still fit him. Anyway, the point is, with him, I need to always be on my game.  Often, I need to get creative.

Tonight, he was taking his bath. Everything was calm. He had just started emptying the tub out, when he suddenly screamed at the top of his lungs. After the shock of the scream penetrating my body subsided, I tried to figure out what was wrong.

He had lost one of his little toys down the drain. It was gone; there was no getting it out. I tried to be intelligent about it. I tried explaining that I was sorry that he lost his toy and we could replace it. That was met with more screams and cries. I tried being worldly, “Sometimes we lose things we love, it’s hard, it’s OK to be sad, but the screams hurt my ears.” That was met with more screams and cries.

So, I got creative and I fibbed.

“Patrick,” I explained, “Your toy is on a mission.” He glanced up at me and the screaming stopped for a second. “Your toy dove down the drain to find the toys that had gone down the drain at our last house and bring them home.” It appeared to be working, though the look he gave me was skeptical. “Don’t you want your other lost toys to come home to us? They didn’t know we moved.”

“Yeah!” Patrick said, “I DO want those other toys to come home.”

“Alright,” I said, “Then will you please try to have a little faith in your toy. He’s going to save your old toys.”

He got skeptical for a second again, and then with total conviction, I firmly asked, “What?! You’ve never seen Toy Story?”

That was proof enough for him and he finally let the issue go.

Then, I remembered the birds that come out at night. Understanding fully why my father fibbed to me, after all these years of being annoyed about it, I finally let the issue go.

Then, I helped myself to some of Patrick’s Calms Forte.

-Dawn Papple


4 Responses

  1. It’s funny you mention taking Calms, if I can’t get my son to take Calms, I take them and then I can think more clearly to be able to deal with him and sort out the situation. BTW great fast thinking, I don’t know if I would have had thought of something that great.

  2. Great thinking mom!! I can’t believe you held off telling any fibs for 5 whole years – that’s amazing!!

  3. lol beautiful, full circle moment 🙂

    and brilliant technique, btw!

  4. Love this story, love your creativity!!!! You are an amazing Mom!

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