After a day with lots of tears and emotional outbursts, I discovered what was bothering Jacob.
Poor kid has a painful loose tooth. I can only imagine how scary it is for him, not knowing that losing teeth is a normal thing, or remembering that this has happened to him before. And, unlike my other kids did, he doesn't even have the anticipation of a cash reward from the Tooth Fairy to get him through it. Its really sad to see him so stressed out and worried about what is going on in his mouth.
That is one of the things I find most troubling about life with my non-verbal little boy. He can't tell me what hurts, and if its not visibly obvious, it is east to attribute his behavior to medications or tiredness or changes in routine when all along his tummy/head/body in general is aching.
I can't count the times that he has seemed a little "off" all day, but not so much that I am worried, and all of the sudden he's puking everywhere. A little warning in times like that would be awesome.
This fear of his inability to communicate to me what is bothering him carries over to every part of his life. Like a few years back when I couldn't get him to go into the school for months and later realized (mommy intuition) that he was afraid of something/someone. What a difference it would have made if he had been able to tell me he was scared. I'll always feel terribly guilty for all the time I spent trying to force/bribe/trick him back to school before I was aware that my sweet little guy was literally shaking in fear.
I hate to know that this could continue for his whole life. Chances are that he will be taken advantage of in some way by caretakers, teachers, or peers. Its a horrible thought, but I have seen enough and heard enough stories to know its reality. People can be cruel. Here in my town a few years ago there was an aid in a local middle school arrested for molesting kids like Jacob, and I know he's not the only person to recognize an easy victim when he sees one.
How do I protect him? I trust his safety and education to so many people that, really, I know very little about no matter how innocent they seem. And with how difficult it is for me sometimes as his mother who loves and adores him to take care of his needs and deal with negative behavior, well, it frightens me to think of how someone who doesn't love him or care about his happiness like I do might treat him in a stressful situation.
I am learning more and more to trust my instincts to tell me when to welcome someone good or avoid someone with ill intentions. All I can do is pray for kindness and understanding from those who are involved in his life. Pray consistently for inspiration as to who I can trust to look after him and keep him safe.
Everyday when he returns to us, his family who will love him through everything, I look into his eyes and hope I still see that shining light that tells me he is doing OK, that all is still well in his world.
An no matter how big he gets I'll always have room for him on my lap and in my arms. Always.