The footsteps awaken me from my sleep.
Suddenly, I feel a thud.
Ryley pushes me until I move across and he proceeds to get into the bed with me.
His Dad has left for work already.
First, he looks out the window.
Then, he pushes me some more.
He wiggles his body awkwardly and attempts to pull the covers over himself. And then I hear him grinding his teeth. He pulls his top and makes the sound that he repeats all the time when he wants something.
I turn over and tell him it isn't time to get up yet.
At those words he kicks all of the covers off the bed.
I am slightly annoyed now (and cold).
"Ryley, it is not time to get up yet"
I pull the covers back over us.
He grinds his teeth.
Repeats the sound.
Pulls at his top.
It is 6:30am.
I manage to keep him in bed until 6:45am.
Time to get up.
I move out of the bed and he starts to cry as though in a panic and grabs my top.
"Ryley, it's time to get up!" I tell him, in an attempt to seem happy about it.
He is not fooled.
He follows me out to the kitchen, where, with my eyes half closed I prepare his medication.
Ryley lets the dogs inside.
I close my eyes and breathe.
Most mornings, this is how my day starts. There are tiny variations, like when Ryley happens to sleep in until 6:45am. But basically, this is how it goes. Some days I just want to put my pillow over my head and pretend I have a 15 year old that will just go eat his breakfast, get dressed and pack his school bag. Maybe he could argue with me a bit, or I could nag him to hurry up. Maybe this 15 year old would be glued to social media or messaging his mates. He might even be ignoring me. Or not. Whatever.
I imagine this 15 year old not needing me every.single.second. In fact, he would only need me to drive him to his part-time job, or to hang out with his mates, or if he couldn't find a piece of clothing. This 15 year old wouldn't kick me in the head. He wouldn't grab me. He wouldn't be the 'behaviour' kid that scares people. He wouldn't fight me with every inch of his being. He wouldn't grind his teeth all day.
He wouldn't need me.
I have this 15 year old who still loves me fiercely, despite also hating me.
I have this 15 year old that shows me how to slow down, while expecting me to be on the move always and getting.stuff.done.
I have this 15 year old who is still frightened of rain and storms at night and curls up in a ball next to me and allows me to comfort him.
I have this 15 year old that despite having seizures every day, who is blind in one eye and worsening sight in the other, who cannot speak and who loses his balance constantly; continue to show me what courage is. He continues to show me what love is. He continues to show me how to be brave and face the day even if it feels hard.
I have a lot to learn.