Monday, July 9, 2012

The Fork--#NaBloPoMo

It was a fork. Just a fork. I knew that. Yet, for me, it still meant so much more.

I stood in the bedroom of my childhood home many years ago, preparing to have dinner with my entire family, my husband and our older son, who was then just a young toddler. I was unsure of what next to do.

Looking down at the fork in my hands, I gently tossed it around, pondering its thick rubber handle and bent metal stem. Downstairs below me, the house was buzzing with the activity of a family gathering. I could hear my niece and nephews, all three ten years old and younger. Life sounded happy.

Upstairs in the room of my youth, I held this fork, told myself that it meant nothing, and then I began to cry.

Already receiving services from New York State's Early Intervention program for over a year, our older son showed signs of verbal and motor apraxia. At the age of three, he had uttered only a smattering of words in his life. And, while he could bolt away from us like nobody's business, I was shocked to learn that he actually lacked control over purposeful gross motor movement. He suffered from global apraxia--purposeful movement of his muscles. He knew what needed to be done but he didn't have the control to do it.

One such movement was getting a fork into his mouth. He could scoop food onto a fork and lift it, but he couldn't turn the fork to face his mouth so that the food could enter.

One day, one of our home therapists told me about a special fork, one created for such reasons. Its handle was thick rubber so that it could be easily held. The stem of the fork could be bent in a right angle to that handle, thus eliminating one of the motor steps to self-feeding.

It was what our son needed to learn to eat.

I was so thankful, and in our isolated world inside our home and within home therapy, I embraced that tool. However, thrown into the mainstream world of my childhood, where we were the only special needs within sight, I felt hurt and exposed.

That fork became a representation of who we were and what our lives had become. For me, it served as a statement, and while there was no doubt that our little family was struggling for our son's future, was I ready to wear it on my sleeve?

How was I going to discuss this with the children in the family? How was I to tell them that their cousin was...special?

In that moment, I was faced with the conflict of both processing my parental hurdle and also needing to educate those around me. Admittedly, to this day, that is still my weak point.

Understanding the task before me, I wiped away my tears as they continued to fall, and I dutifully walked downstairs.

Today, I am happy to say, our son is able to use a typical fork. It is a skill he learned because he first had the assistance of that one special fork.

I still have it, you know, packed away in a box that I keep in our basement. I saw it not too long ago and was transported back to that moment when I stood in my childhood bedroom on the cusp of becoming the person who I am today.

NaBloPoMo July Challenge. This post isn't funny, but it's about "Kids", so I'm counting it!


  1. Not all challenges are easy to share. Family and friends can't be expected to understand your life if you don't allow them to be part of it. I know that you are out there now fighting for what they need and helping them grow into the men they are meant to be. I can see how wanting the family's support is one thing and being upfront with everything one detail at a time, maybe a bit more difficult. You have really come a long way baby girl and I am so proud to know ya!

    This memory, though painful is a giant example of exactly how far.

    1. I guess so! Why that doesn't make clearing the exact same hurdles with our younger son any easier is beyond me. But, alas, it is true.

  2. It's hard to know that your family is different, and you want to protect your children from as much negativity as possible. Thanks for sharing this!