For the last 594 days, twice a day, every day, someone–often me, many times his father, occasionally his grandparents or other caretakers–has given my seven-year-old son Edgar his anti-seizure medicine. In the beginning it was five separate medications twice a day, then four, then three, and now just two. We have measured precisely, poured carefully, and administered like the pros we were all forced to become. We have an inviolable routine, foolproof as the potential consequences of forgetting are too frightening to contemplate.
And tonight started off in just the same fashion it always has for the last 594 nights: I went to the cupboard, retrieved my son’s medicine, and was grabbing the spoon when I heard, “Stop!”
I turned and looked at him, sitting in the chair, no longer merely waiting but with a fire in his eyes that bespoke a desire for something more.
“I’m going to do this tonight.”
I asked him what he meant . . . Did he merely want to crush the pill? Stir the mixture?
“All of it.”
My expression must have been one of fear because he said, “Don’t worry. I can do this.”
I paused and moved the supplies–his supplies–toward him and gave him step-by-step directions–and the steps-within-the-steps. I also explained about milligrams and slow-release and how the medicine works. I showed him the bottles, tried my best to pronounce the multi-syllabic names, the official names. I reiterated the important work this medicine does for him, that this is serious business.
And with all that and a soundless, heartfelt sigh I passed the baton–a baton that was never mine but that I cared for just the same.
This is his epilepsy, his medication, and tonight he claimed responsibility.
He said he can do this, and I am going to have to believe him.