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April 2014

The Third Oldest Profession

First and very foremost: I read what I had written about Edward's kindergarten teacher and I think that the way I wrote, "I blame myself for not communicating better... " conveyed the opposite. It was like that time I said a bride-to-be looked so... sweet at the rehearsal dinner, while simultaneously rolling my eyes and nudging my head in the direction of her (entirely) see-through dress*.

So I feel the need to clarify my belief that Edward's teacher should be canonized. She has 20+ kindergartens/first graders in her mixed classroom to protect, educate, nurture, encourage, discipline, respect and inspire and yet all year she has been able to make me feel like my child is her only student - and I have TWO in there. I, of all people, know that Edward has been a huge time-suck and yet I also know that she strategized constantly about Caroline; moving her up in reading and having the creative notion that she should do her math in Spanish**. She did not speak Spanish but her teacher does so... ole.

She really did try to tell me how bad things were and without her persistence I would never have taken the steps to get Edward the help he needs. I am grateful to her beyond measure. Also? When I went for the second conference of the year (about a month after Edward had started therapy) she had tears in her eyes as she talked about the little improvements she was seeing in him. She was choked up when she told me, "He has the most beautiful eyes and I had never seen them before a week ago."

*There is a Simpsons line which reads:

"Her collar and cuffs don't match, if you know what I mean."

To which Marge replied, "I don't but I loved hearing it."

Steve repeats this quote to me a lot when I try to gossip with him and it is pretty much why I love him.

The bride by the way - whose husband later told Steve a week before our wedding that he wasn't going to be a groomsman; not that I think he is a total ass or anything - well! The dress looked like cling wrap

** Caroline continues to be good with languages. When we were in DC for a wedding last week*** I suggested she could join the foreign service when she grows up and help our country as part of its diplomatic corps.

She asked, "Will I get to go to all of the countries and climb into windows and punch bad guys in the neck?"

I told her no. 


Uh. Yeah.

I took a picture of her before school today: top and bottom are the thermal underlayer for skiing, pink leopard rainboots and the fuzzy white bolera that was supposed to keep her arms warm at the wedding.

I swear I will smack the first person who tells her about the CIA as a career choice.

*** We spent last week in DC for a family wedding. It was great to be home. And weird.

PS In the past seven years Patrick has had a couple of mediocre teachers, one who was destructive and a few who ignited him to the point of incandescence. Patrick will have many teachers as he pursues his passions but I have no doubt which ones he will remember. 

No. Really. Anxious.

Last night was a good example. I asked Steve to deal with dinner because I would be spending the evening locked in our bathroom. My stated intention was to remain there until I had gotten something... anything... written and Steve, always willing to help resuscitate my increasingly corpselike muse, agreed.

Having thus disposed of my parental responsibilities I adjusted the lighting, sharpened the keypad, wiggled my fingers and cleared my throat; all ready to be brilliant.

Damn it, though, I couldn't have been alphabetizing my lipsticks for more than ten minutes before Caroline came racing in to tell me that Edward had something sharp stuck in his throat. Sensation! Drama! Choking! I KNEW I should never have left the children to eat without me. 

I punched a hole through the door with my body and flew to where Edward sat, tears streaming down his face as he drank a glass of milk. He explained, quite clearly for someone who was allegedly choking, that he thought he had a fish bone in his throat. Or maybe some bread. Possibly a piece of asparagus. But he was better now.

"Oh," I said. "Good."

Steve looked at me like, don't blame me when you never get anything accomplished because you're so easily distracted, and I left them to their dinner; taking a bottle of wine and a glass with me. This time I locked the door behind me.

Back at my desk in the bathroom (I know what you are thinking. don't be vulgar. the people who built this place liked vanity tables) I poured myself a glass of wine and I was just about to tell you the most amusing story - after I trimmed all of my split ends with the pair of cuticle scissors that I found in a drawer - when Caroline appeared again.

"Hey!" I said, frowning. "I locked the door!"

"Whoopsy!" she said, holding up a bamboo skewer. "I unlocked it. And I am very sorry to interrupt but I needed to know if you have seen my geode."

What I should have done, of course, is told her to get out but instead I asked, "What geode?"

Stupid. I am stupid.

Thus encouraged, Caroline proceeded to tell me in great detail about some geode she acquired at a cave, the cave with bats, hey did I know that bats [insert everything there is to know about bats] but she had misplaced it a month ago and now needed to find it because... ten minutes later I finally threw her out.

I don't know what it going on with me but I have had the worst... I hesitate to call it writer's block; more like stifled stream of whatsits... I have had the hardest time writing here for months and months.

Maybe if I tell you about Edward?


Edward - as you might recall - cried every day at preschool drop-off. September through May. For three years. His preschool teachers assured me that he was fine after I left and I believed them and it might even have been true. True enough. 

Originally we had planned on putting the twins in separate kindergarten classrooms; partially because it seemed like the thing one does with twins and partially because Caroline all but threatened to set herself on fire if she had to spend another year in a class with Edward. That was what one might call A HINT but I was too thick to pick up on it. So as kindergarten approached and Edward became increasingly agitated I made the last minute decision to try to put them together in order to calm his fears. The school graciously scrambled to accommodate us.    

And all was well. For four days. Then Edward punched a kid and shoved someone else and, god, I dunno, started building Panzer tanks out of Legos and he quickly found himself clutching a one-way ticket to the school's Friendship Rainbow Club for Hitters. When things only marginally improved after a few weeks I also took him to see a play therapist. She saw him three times and suggested we have him tested for Austim.

Huh. Well.

As it so happens I know a little bit about the spectrum and Edward... ummmm, not likely. Truly, I would not have placed Edward anywhere near it. Like, at all. Other member of the family, sure, maybe, why not, but... Edward? I googled Autism again and went over the symptoms and he had none of them. Not one. But, hey, sometimes the mother is the last to know so I dutifully took Edward to his pediatrician who made the Are You Fucking Kidding Me face, suggested we put the idea of testing him on the back burner and then did blood work for various and sundry things (thyroid, um, vitamin D? platelets? I don't remember) that might be affecting his behavior. All negative.

Months passed and although I no longer got notes that Edward had tried to defenestrate a classmate his teacher was increasingly frantic about him. She eventually asked for permission to ship him off to the school social worker for one-on-one time and I said ok but I admit that her reasons were not entirely clear to me. I blame myself for not communicating with her better. In retrospect it was like we were seeing two entirely different kids. At home Edward is funny, cuddly, admittedly short-fused, scholarly, immature, chatty, creative and very loving. At school he spent his days curled up in a ball on the floor.   

Good. Grief.

But I didn't know this. In fact, it wasn't until I got an excited email from his teacher reporting that he had participated in both math AND literacy one day that the full extent of the situation began to dawn on me. I finally talked with her about what she was seeing and what we were seeing and then I did what any suburban helicopterix does with a problem: I scheduled appointments.

We had him tested for spectrum and intelligence and fine motor skills and gross motor skills and working memory and quite possibly he is now licensed to operate a motorcycle in the state of Minnesota because he took a whole lot of tests. Which he loved, by the way, because every appointment got him out of school and he was so. very. miserable there. We also took him back to his pediatrician who suggested it was well past the time that Edward should go Talk to Someone.

Someone spent a month getting to know Edward and at the end of it all he said something along the lines of O my sweet glorious cruller of angst this child has a RAGING anxiety disorder; noting the whole completely shutting down thing which is apparently the next best thing to Flight when a person is terrified but forced to do something anyway. It was the kindergarten equivalent of Jerry from Accounting locking himself in the conference room and refusing to come out.

Having produced this diagnosis Someone then asked if there is a family history of anxiety. I looked at the ceiling and whistled. Eventually I admitted that, yeah, maybe, I, myself, might experience the occasional irrational fear but Steve smoked so much pot in college that I thought he was going to join a rasta band*.

So Edward is getting cognitive behavioral therapy by the bucketful and he is very receptive to it. Now that someone is asking him the right questions he is really good at articulating what is going on with him. At one point he explained that although sometimes his mind knows there is nothing to be scared of his body doesn't listen to his mind. And his body is the boss. So there it is.

It's a work in progress and Caroline has been extremely unhelpful; to be fair, I think she has been absolutely mortified that she - she who always knows exactly the right emotion to wear for any occasion - is the twin sister of the hedgehog on the floor. Next year we are separating them.

The commenter** who is convinced that I have Munchausen by proxy is going to have a freaking apoplexy when she sees this, which is probably why I have put off mentioning it. I wanted to give her some time to recover from Steve's broken vertebrae before I confessed that we drained all the blood from Edward's body and had him stuffed.

* This is a quote from the movie Parenthood. I am not saying that Steve actually smoked pot. He might not have inhaled and besides I didn't even know him in college since I was in junior high at the time.

** I give unpleasant (to me) comments a lot of consideration and I was particularly intrigued by the munchausen perception. I wondered what I have written to give this impression so strongly to someone that she - thinly disguised - has come back to the comment section over and over again to reiterate it. My knee-jerk reaction was that she is a loon - always a satisfying conclusion when someone disagrees with you; hence the increasing vitriol of party politics - but the more I thought about it the more I realized that I do tend to write more about the negative things that happen to us. I don't know if it is because I started this as a place to write about miscarriages and how much they sucked and now it is a habit; or if I just have a really hard time sitting down only to announce that everything is awesome. I feel guilty when things are going really well. What if you are reading this and have something terrible happening in your life and I am going on and on about how shiny my hair is? I would never do that to you in person.

Anyway, although I am quite certain that I am m by p free since 1971 I acknowledge that I might read like the question pages of webmd and I will try to diversify.

PS I have mentioned this before but, for the love of Christmas, if you change your name every time you comment anywhere please... just stop. WE CAN SEE YOU and it just looks weird when someone is Jillian then Sally then Carrie. Go ahead and call yourself something fun, like, Hieronymus Carl Friedrich and stick with it. Much better for everyone.

PPS I am hosting daytime book club tomorrow. The book I chose is The Calligrapher by Edward Docx which someone suggested here about eight years ago. I read it at the time and all I could remember about it was that I was desperate to talk to other women about it. Now I know why - I want to strangle the (male) narrator with my girdle.  Not that it is a bad book but... lordy. Is the author serious?

My question, though, is: it is 50 degrees here and raining. Can I still serve wasabi Bloody Marys? Please advise.