I checked with Jasper and he says it’s OK to write about his growth hormone treatment on the blog, which is a pretty good thing, since I’m having trouble writing about much else.
It’s not like he’s deformed for life, not like he’s terminally ill. He isn’t even sick. He’s just missing this one key component which would make him grow like other boys. I’m relieved that they can say why he’s been like Peter Pan, stopped in childhood.
I don’t feel sorry for myself except maybe when we’re driving to Rochester for yet another appointment. Those times it doesn’t take long to remind myself to be grateful for the luxury to be able to make the trip and have insurance coverage. The testing and diagnosis has been involved and expensive. Insurance has paid the lion’s share of it. I don’t know what we would have done without coverage.
So I’m not feeling sorry for myself, but I’m occasionally startled by how jealous I am of other people’s kids. Chatting with other moms, the character of some of the stories they tell has left me out. We still chuckle at misunderstandings, nod and make “awww cute” noises at the sweet things our kids do and say. But there is a new class of story I can’t add anything to. These are the puberty and growth spurt stories.
The ones which get me the most worked up are the kids who are 4 years younger than Jasper. These are kids whose moms and dads carried them to the bus stop when Jasper was going to school. Kids who used to look up to Jasper literally and figuratively. He’s always hung out with a mix of kids, many of them younger than he was. It never bothered me that he chose to play with younger kids. He wasn’t terribly mature for his age. But when the ‘little kids’ started to catch up to and then tower over him, it made everything confusing and messy.When their voices changed Jasper and I both felt tricked, jilted in some way.
Lately when the parents get together- even the new with kids way younger than Jasper- when they get together and tell stories of boys outgrowing shoes and pants, and stories of younger siblings being awestruck at the new hair sprouting on their big brother or sister, I don’t feel that camaraderie. I don’t feel the gleeful “Isn’t this a miraculous journey we’re taking?” Nor do I feel the exasperation of “Isn’t it a pain in the ass to have to keep buying new clothes before the old ones wear out?”
Years ago when Zach’s friends went through the same thing, he was about a year behind, but he progressed steadily and it never entered into my mind that he wouldn’t catch up. I remember admiring and wondering at the new broad shoulders on the boys and the breasts on the girls. It’s what’s supposed to happen. I chuckled at how they all carried themselves self consciously at the 6 th grade graduation ceremony. It was like someone snuck into their houses in the night and gave them these new body parts. My kid was behind, but he was on the same trajectory. All the parents had a sort of camaraderie because our kids were all doing this miraculous metamorphosis.
When the subject of puberty and growth comes up I feel slightly angry. I hate those people and their lanky or curvaceous kids. I only hate them for a little while until I remind myself that they aren’t gloating, they’re marveling. They’re proud. I remember proud. It feels good. I still feel it when Jasper walks up and starts a conversation with a total stranger.
I remember some time around his 15th year, looking at Zach and seeing that he had man-hair on his legs and biceps which were sculpted and strong. He was awkward, but at the same time he was coming to grips with the fact that he was stronger than his mom. It made him proud, you could tell. And it made me proud for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it was along the lines of “all sorts of people make babies. That’s easy. Me? I made that manly person over there. That’s right. I made that. Isn’t he handsome?” Whether or not it was justified, I was proud. And proud feels good.
Jealous feels bad. This new feeling is the opposite of proud, which I used to think was ashamed. It’s jealous. Jealous makes me feel like a bad person, a mean person for not being able to celebrate with these other kids and their parents. It’s the same feeling I had and still have some times when I see older people going about their lives. By older I mean older than my mom when she died (so not very old at all). I’m jealous that they get to be walking to the store, raking leaves or buying a newspaper. I’m jealous of one kid’s hairy armpits and another’s cracking voice. Jealousy by proxy?
If I feel jealous, I imagine Jasper feels the same. He’s tired of being mistaken for his mom on the phone, and he’d rather we didn’t discuss the latest kid to have his voice change. Sometimes after he gets together with kids he hasn’t seen for a long time, he cries and storms around the house in frustration. The first thing out of the other kids’ mouths is always, “JAsper! You’re exactly the same! You’re still short!” They’re just dumb kids.
It’s weird to have a medical condition that is simply the absence of something you’ve never had to begin with. Something you didn’t even miss until everyone else got it. It’s hard to know where to direct your anger. I’ve imagined what it would be like to never grow up. What if you could live for a long long time, but you had to stay 12 forever?
It isn’t going to be that way here. We should be able to start growth hormone shots in about a week. Once they start, Jasper will probably grow very quickly, about twice as fast as a normal teenager. That works out to be 3 to 4 inches per year. We’re going to set up a camera in front of a measuring tape and try to take a picture every day once he starts his treatments. Watch for it here.