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Monster Island

The island where we stayed for Schuyler’s spring band trip over the weekend provided just about everything you could want from a vacation spot. The resort was very nice, the pool was epic (I’m going to go on record as saying that a bar with swim-up barstools in the pool itself is an idea I can support, for probably all the wrong reasons), the beach was lovely and the weather was absolutely perfect. The band kids were a lot of fun and much more well-behaved than I ever was at their age, and the directors were patient and accommodating.

The island was a great place for a spring vacation.

But Schuyler’s monster followed us. He kept busy during our stay. The devil ain’t no lazy bones, as the song reminds us. He works twenty-four hours a day.

I’m not going to go into details, but I can share some general points. There are certain circumstances that create conditions favorable for Schuyler to have a seizure, including hormones and stress, and they all came together like a perfect storm. Her first seizure hit on the afternoon of our first full day at the resort, and it left wreckage in its wake. We’d tried to give Schuyler as much room to behave independently and make her own choices, and this turned out to be, if not a huge mistake, at least a woeful miscalculation. I feel genuinely bad for that, like I failed her.

(I’m at least hopeful that the “listen to your parents when they warn you to wear sunscreen” lesson might take hold for next time; she’s still walking like a cowboy at the end of a long cattle drive. A very, very red cowboy.)

By the end of the day, we’d moved Schuyler out of the room she was sharing with four other girls, none of whom probably should have been asked to take on the special responsibilities for watching out for her. She joined us in our room, which had an extra bedroom. It occurred to me later that this wasn’t a happy coincidence.

The entire trip wasn’t a wash by any stretch, and honestly, if you asked Schuyler if she had a good time, I imagine she would give a qualified “yes” in response. It was a roller coaster ride for sure, and I like to think it was mostly highs. But the lows were subterranean, and by the time we returned to Plano two days (and at least one seizure) later, we were all spent, physically and emotionally. These seizures were notable for the depth and longevity of their post-ictal periods. Julie kept Schuyler home from school the following day. We’ll see how she does when she returns to class today.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this post, because I’m not sure what the takeaway is. Schuyler had a good time, except when she very much didn’t. Her social anxiety only hit after her seizure, but boy did it land hard after that. She laughed hard most of the time, including once so enthusiastically that we literally heard her from the other side of the resort. But she also cried harder than I can really remember her crying for many years. She was probably happy 80% of the trip, but that other 20% had real teeth and claws. Schuyler adored the beach and looked hard for sea creatures on the sand. But in the end, it was a very familiar monster that found her.

So we’re home now, and the challenging parts fade in the memory, as they do in most happy families where a big sad lurks from time to time. We have a lot to consider for the future, mostly about exactly how much true independence Schuyler can handle. This was a challenging enough experience that if we hadn’t accompanied her on the trip, I suspect at least one of us would have ended up hopping a flight to Corpus Christi that first day. Next year’s trip is to Disney World, and honestly, if you asked Schuyler today if she wants to go, I can’t imagine what she’d say.

For myself, I’ve come to a conclusion, one that I actually arrived at several days ago. For the near future, I’m going to stop trying to steer Schuyler toward that independent light she’s been so keen to grasp. I’m going to turn off, as best as I can, that ticking clock that whispers dire warnings about everything waiting down the road. I’m going to give up trying to guide a young adult towards the Capital-F Future for a little while. I’m just going to let my kid be a kid.

God, she tries so hard.

When we were leaving Corpus Christi for the long drive home, the buses stopped at one of those big, ridiculous souvenir shops for one last chance to blow some money. Schuyler picked out a t-shirt and some decent shells, and then we both gravitated to the shark tooth jewelry. Without even discussing whether or not it was a thing we should do, we both picked out necklaces with a decent sized tooth and bought them.

As the bus ate up the miles between the coast and Dallas, we talked about sharks. Schuyler decided that sharks, with their mystery and their ancient lineage and their terrible teeth, definitely qualified as sea monsters, and so our new monster tooth necklaces gave us the power to detect when monsters are near. Oh, if only that were true.

I haven’t taken mine off since then, except to shower. I even wear it to work under my business casual work clothes. I like how it reminds me of things I shouldn’t forget, like my wonderful daughter, and a stalking monster. When I press it against my chest, it bites ever so slightly.

Just enough to warn. Monsters are near.

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5 Comments
  1. Jamie
    April 6, 2017 |
  2. DC
    April 6, 2017 |
    • Jamie
      April 6, 2017 |
      • Jamie
        April 6, 2017 |
      • DC
        April 6, 2017 |