Well, it's time I talk about Antonio...I've thought about what I would write for so long now...and, I find, that he is the hardest to write about...I can't exactly explain why - maybe it is because, he is so sweet and I want to find the exact, right words...maybe it is because he is so interesting, that I want to portray him in the right light...
I do know this, Tonio and his Mama, had a special relationship. He was tattooed to her hip. He absolutely glowed in her presence. She was able to softly cajole him into doing anything she wanted him to do, whether it was shower and get ready for bed, or eat a lima bean casserole (you know I'm just tossing examples out there for effect - do you think Kimmy would have tortured us with a lima bean casserole?) And he'd always listen to her so well...'Yes, Mama'. 'Ok, Mama'.
Tonio would draw his Mama special pictures. Or pick her flowers in the back yard. Or offer to help her around the house.
When Kimmy was hired as a para pro in Mrs. Montes' class, Tonio was so excited to have his Mama working in his class! She would give him instruction when he was wiggly in the classroom, telling him to listen and sit still. Once, to the point of exasperation when Antonio just could not sit still, Mrs. Montes pulled Kimmy aside and told her 'Watch this. Antonio? What did I just ask the class to do?' And, to Kim's astonishment, Tonio repeated Mrs. Montes' instruction. 'See? He listens, and gets his work done. He just can't sit still!'.
He's still wiggly. And I feel that I am constantly prompting him...to get ready for school - brush your teeth, comb your hair, stop wrestling the dog, put your lunch in your back pack, stop playing legos, put on your sneakers, don't climb over the wall into the dining room...on and on, non-stop...but, he can be so sweet...the one thing that always brings a tear to my eye, is how he and Autumn hug, when we drop him off at Mrs. Schrantz' classroom. It is so genuine and they tell each other to have a nice day and that they love one another...
At home, Tonio can be the most helpful and hardest worker. He will always ask me if I need help and will unload the dish washer, help fold wash, help in the garden - or whatever. As soon as he is done with something, he will always come back and ask if there is anything else he can do for me, before he goes off to play.
I think, of the three bambini, it is Tonio who is struggling the most with the loss of his Mama. He just can't get his arms around it. He is my lost little sheep. There had not been too many days, where I have not had to explain things to him again and let him know his Mama is no longer in pain and no longer has cancer and is a beautiful angel watching over him...
He is always thinking of other...today, he found out that his little buddy, Bryson, had a bad asthma attack and had to go to the hospital. He wanted to go see him, and I explained Bryson was now at home and doing better. We were at the grocery store and he spotted a 'Get Well' balloon that he wanted to get for Bryson. I texted Janene, to let her know that Tonio was asking about Bryson. She texted back that Bryson said he was doing better. Tonio told me to text him back saying that was awesome and to tell Bryson he misses him.
And he is always so appreciative. Tonight, he got a splinter and after I removed it for him, he thanked me several times, telling me how nice it was that I got it out and assuring me that it no longer hurt him and that I was the nicest daddy for doing that for him.
Yet, there is that side of Tonio that worries me deeply...he is so scattered...today at swim lessons, he is peppering his instructor, Raven, with irrelevant questions. For example, she might ask them what 'big arms' (freestyle) look like. Autumn automatically throws her arms into motion. Tonio's hand shoots up. Ravne asks what? Tonio says 'Watch this!' and dives beneath the water, bobbing straight back up, very pleased with himself. Why? Who knows. When Raven asks who would like to go first on a swimming excercise, Autumn and Tonio fall back into the Heckle and Jeckle routing, squabbling. Raven solves it by asking them to choose a # and whoever picks closest, goes first. Autumn chose 5. Raven said 'Right! Autumn goes first!'. Tonio's hand shoots up. 'Yes Tonio?' 'Uh...can I go first?'. He cracks me up daily...a lot.
He has this very caring, helpful side, but also that crazy, unfocused, 7 year old boy side. Which can be pretty entertaining, at times, but can make you wish it were time for bed at other times. Kim was his buffer to the world. She could keep him fairly focuse, have patience with him, explain things to him so that he might understand and give him all of the hugs and loves that he needed...
I think Tonio has been my biggest source of anxiety as I try to reassimilate into the working world. I'm always wondering what kind of day he will have and if he is behaving if he is having a really good day. He had great support at Cottonwood in Mrs. Schrantz, Mrs. Hoover, Ms. Bryson - everyone is very kind to him there and nurturing. And I know he loves his time with Lupe and Andrea. He loves to give out hugs to everyone, too. I think, in some sense, he is trying to fill that void inside that was left by the loss of his Mama...and the encouragement and support, do help to fill him up. He really lights up when complimented or acknowledged - it makes his day.
So if you see little Tonio, wandering in a fog...please give him a hug, or tell him what a great job he is doing, or whatever other encouragement you can give him...
He is a fun boy. A loving, caring soul...and my biggest challenge right now - I need to get him through this, with that beautiful smile still intact and his heart warm with love.
Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them,
"Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me"