Every so often I am gently reminded that I am the father of a special needs child. A few weeks ago Grandma, my mother, gave Ethan a balloon. You know, those rubbery balloons with the giant elastic band tied to the end that you hold and use to bounce the balloon off your knuckles.

Needless to say Ethan loved the balloon. He would bounce it on his hand, bounce it on his sister (Emma), bounce it everywhere. Well, one day he bounced it off the ceiling fan too many times.

The loud pop startled him, and those of us that heard it. After only a nanosecond of delay Evie and I knew what had happened. Just as quickly as we realized the balloon had given up the ghost, so too Ethan realized the balloon was a goner. Immediately we heard the famous cry, "Oh, No! My balloon." That was then followed up with the summons, "Dad, fix it!"

He brought me the various pieces and asked for my help in fixing the mortal remains of the balloon. I gently told him the balloon was not able to be repaired, and that it was "broken." Broken is the understood word in our house for all things final, empty, not refillable, finished, gone, kaput, syonara, adios, popped, etc. Suddenly he too realized the completeness of the death of the balloon, and broke into a deep sobbing cry. You know the ones, where when you finish you have that hiccup-like breathing that seems to take even longer to subside then the original crying.

I called for him to, "come here," and I put him on my lap. He immediately sank his face into my shoulder and cried. I held him there as I sat in my desk chair for several minutes. At thirteen, Ethan's feet nearly touched the floor even though he was on my lap and I was in a chair, and he had to bend forward in order to nestle his face into my shoulder.

Then these thoughts struck me:

1) He's only going to get bigger.
2) What do 16, 17 or 18-year-old special needs kids cry about?
3) Will he still be heartbroken over lost toys and balloons?
4) Is that easier to comfort then a lost first-love, -jilted date, -job, etc. ?
5) How many years will he need to be comforted like this?
6) As he gets bigger, would it be better if I just sit on his lap?
7) I'm going to need a bigger chair. . .

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