CJ was eleven months old when I flew him home to the Philippines following my divorce. He was adjusting well under Grandma’s care. We communicate by video and phone chat, and I go visit him for three to four weeks each time every year. At three I decided to take him back to Thailand, a move which I would later regret. While child custody tension between the Ex and me abated, CJ began showing symptoms of developmental issues.
Like the usual scenario among children of divorce, CJ spends weekdays with Mom and weekends with Dad. When the nanny left we had difficulty finding a replacement. CJ’s living arrangement was then reversed. The Ex worked long hours and left CJ with a housemaid who fed him milk and junk and seriously nothing else. Every time I came to pick CJ up during weekends, the kitchen I saw was alarmingly devoid of signs that it catered to a child’s diet. When CJ was not attending kindergarten, he was glued to either the computer or the TV in his room. Legally stuck at employment, I could only watch drastic changes in CJ’s behavior and wait to snatch the right moment to act.
From being a happy, interactive child who at three could read the alphabet, count simple numbers, sing, and recite verses, CJ transformed into a sickly, irritable six-year old who threw tantrums at the slightest provocation, hitting anyone in his path. He stopped talking. Social settings were often venues of meltdowns. If I wasn’t mortified, I was horrified. Most times I was both.
At some point the Ex verbally admitted that something indeed was wrong with CJ. He gave me numbers of his older brother whose colleague was qualified to look into CJ’s case, but under the circumstances I deemed going home was the best option.
We have gone on a strange picnic characterized by loads of studying and learning, specialists I never knew existed, treatment and intervention. My favorite part is spotting improvements and successes no matter how little, and celebrating them.