To say that I am identified by my role as Rojo’s mother, is an understatement. I eat, sleep, breath Rojo – have for fifteen years now. I plan. I organize. I create. I build. I improvise. I catch. I readjust. I schedule. I therapize. I worry. I trust. I laugh. I cry. I bore. I entertain. I discourage. I inspire. All in the name of Rojo.
It’s also fair to say that if you’re a friend of Rojo’s, you’re a friend of mine, and vice-versa. The people that I’m close to in my life, are close to him. No exceptions. Some are close to him only by reading the blog. Some because he now texts them and calls. Some because he stops by to visit. Some because they met him while throwing a ball to their dog.
We have neighbors that live right behind us. They are a retired couple that have put two wicker chaise lounges on their front porch, hooked up a fan, and spend as much time out there as possible on nice days. He reads the paper and his business and news magazines. She reads O Magazine and paperbacks. I did not know all this until receiving a text from Rojo on Saturday morning that said, “COME TO THE V.’S FOR ICED TEA. COME RIGHT NOW. BRING FLICKA.”
So, naturally, I did. They wanted to meet me formally, since they’d been spending quite a bit of time with Rojo. He had told me he’d met them while riding his bike around the block (over and over and over again), and now and then he’d say, “I’m going to go say hi to the V.’s.”
While never having officially met the V.’s, I knew exactly who they were. I know their oldest daughter, who happens to be the mother of K., a young woman with Down Syndrome – the V.’s oldest grandchild. I also know their youngest (of six) “child.” Turns out they get quite a kick out of him and his visits are a highlight of their day.
On Monday two different friends living on two different blocks both told me they’d attended their block parties over the weekend, and Rojo was quite the subject of conversation. Person after person mentioned how much they enjoy their visits with him at the dog park. People I knew. People I didn’t know. One friend said an older man on her block got choked up talking about him, and how excited he was that he was able to go to high school with his sister, and how neat the new program was.
All these people know Rojo in a way I don't. They know him when I'm not around. They know him differently, and that's something I need to keep in mind.
Met with the preschool teacher that worked with him over the summer. She was so impressed with how much growth she saw in him in just two months, and wanted to really encourage me to keep pushing him, not to put limits on him, that nothing was impossible: driving a car, going to college, getting married.
While I can’t fathom him ever doing any of those things, I am trying to walk that fine line between realism and optimism. I certainly don’t want to hold him back, nor do I want to push for things that are simply never going to happen. Because I am so identified as his mother, it’s hard to remember that others may have a view of him that I am unable to see – doesn’t mean it’s accurate, doesn’t mean it isn’t, but it’s a view worth climbing up to and taking a look from every now and then.