Over the summer while spending a few hours a week with Maria and her brother Johnny while Mom worked I taught Maria how to do needlepoint. On my last day of helping out over the summer I arrive in the morning, Mom greets me with a cup of tea and tells me Maria has a request. My granddaughter Maria gave me a challenge. Make a sweater for her Beary, her sleep friend, with her since birth and she is now nine. Thank goodness for online patterns. There are teddy bear sweater knit patterns on line. I chose a simple ribbing, stockinette stitch pattern. My knitting skills are still in the beginner stage. From my stash I chose a white with silver thread and have no idea why I originally bought this light weight yarn. Poor Beary, I didn’t have him to test the size out and when we put the sweater on him the sleeves hung down to his non-existent hips. His arms are one and half inches long. On my next try I used the sleeve measurement for the body, joining under the arms and at the neck. A much better fit, for sure. End of sweater making, right. Nope. During a conversation and laughing about the too big sweater I mention the sweater to my other daughter not knowing that her son also has a Beary, and she asks her son, Do you want Mimi to make a sweater for your Beary?
Now my grandson, Dominick wants a sweater for his Beary. Back to the stash. Two weeks later on the three hour car ride to the ocean his sister reminds him often that he had to stop yelling at his mother or he would not get the sweater. When we arrived I felt his behavior had been and still was out of control, way beyond the terrible fours. I gave his mother the sweater and she gave him the sweater, hoping it would be a visual reminder of acceptable behavior. End of sweater making, right. Oh silly me.
Dom is four and a half years old. When my daughter was pregnant with him there were markers for mental problems. My daughter and her husband decided to continue with the pregnancy. The markers disappeared. While a full term baby but small in size Dom at six months stopped growing and gaining weight. His life has been a series of doctors, tests and more hospitals with no reason for the growth problem. A mother’s love for her child got bottle after bottle of formula into him. At eighteen months old he had surgery to remove his tonsils so he could swallow. When on solid foods he became hungry and we thought all would be fine. He was eating 1500 calories a day. No weight or height gain. Now four and a half years later he is the size of a two year old. Mentally in some areas he is on average for his age, in some areas above average and emotionally below average. Dom has been tested for autism, his cousins on his father’s side have autism. He does not feel pain whether he has the pain or inflicts the pain on others. He is in therapy for many problems. He is tiny but strong. He doesn’t feel pain himself; he doesn’t understand that he hurts people, usually his sister and his mother. He has bruised his six year sister, he has previously broken his mother’s finger.
Day three of vacation at the ocean, his father who drove separate from us, is, as usual, off doing whatever away from his family. My daughter has started to call herself a single parent. Three days and I had witnessed many nasty outburst from Dom directed to his mother. When I came into the condo I heard about what had happened. Dom didn’t want to put the ipod down to change into a swim suit. The family was going to the beach. He hurled a metal object at his mother and hit her eye. We left the kids with their father and went for a drive. How do you handle a child who doesn’t care that he hurt his mother?
Hours later my daughter asks me to make another sweater. She wants to use it as a bribe for good behavior. She whisks me to her car, we drive a good half hour to the nearest yarn store. I had planned to visit this store but not in this manner. A skein of J. C. Brett DK weight yarn and size 6 bamboo needles later I am out on the condo balcony listening to the surf and knitting a variegated blue sweater. By this time I had memorized the pattern. A few hours later the sweater was finished, I gave it to my daughter. I know Dom has problems but I could not forgive him for hurting my daughter, again.
Days after we got home from vacation she gave him the blue sweater. He loves it. Daily he changes Beary from a white to a blue sweater. End of sweater making, maybe. Dom has requested a purple sweater. Maybe as a holiday gift? If his behavior improves between now and then. Yeah, I’ll make the sweater, I don’t know what else to do to try to help my daughter.