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Smiley Faces on Some Days, Fist-Pounding on Others


My 6-year-old son, Alex, is large for his age with big blue eyes and brown hair. He loves hugs, Thomas the Train and Mega Bloks. 

Everyone says that he is a joy to be around; his teachers love him and every day I receive a breakdown of his day in his backpack. Some days there are smiley faces on the sheet. On other days words like “stressed” and “fist pounding” are more common.

Alex has started to say three-word sentences this year, which is a big deal. He still has trouble letting us know what he wants and that leads to problems. He wants to be understood so badly, but also doesn’t like it when we talk too much. Too much conversation and he feels the need to scream. He cries if someone speaks harshly to him. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if denying him will lead to him breaking things or breaking his heart.

He is not what I was expecting, but he is my Alex. I never planned on getting woken up at 3 a.m. for night terrors, or driving two hours to see the specialists, or raising a child so terrified of having his mouth touched that he has to be swaddled in the dentist’s chair.

I ask if he is my buddy. “I buddy Menya” is his reply. I wish that I knew why he chose that name for me. I often think, “What exactly am I supposed to do? I can’t figure out which way to go!” But Alex is mine. I hope he knows that he is safe and loved no matter who he grows up to be.

By Erica Hoth, Mom of Alexander, 6, Christian, 4, and Brendon, 1