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Friday, May 04, 2007

Rush to judgment

There are few compensations when a spouse works long hours. One of them, compensations that is to say, is that regardless of how late my spouse returns home, he religiously takes the children to school in the morning.

Many individuals are dedicated to their work. Many work long hours. [translation = especially the self employed] The American work ethic is "legendary" but in Silicon Valley there is a different order of magnitude that is nearly impossible to translate. This is a land where geekspeak is the first language. Within this land there is a sub division, those who work for start-ups. [translation – new baby companies] This "class" of people, do not know the difference between night and "day" and sleep "under" their desks, "if at all." They live and breathe their work. This is my spouse, [translation = one facet] which means that I need to curb my own "Luddite" tendencies.

That is, until today. Today he had a "dental" appointment at 7:30 a.m. He had to be at the dentist’s office at that time. [translation = commuter traffic] Ergo, not only did I have to get all three children ready for school alone during the allotted time span, but I also had to get myself ready and find the ability drive.

This would have been fine if I had had advance warning. [translation = the night before] When this information reaches me, at 6:40 a.m. “oh dear! Did you know that I have a dental appointment this morning?” I am less than happy. I may be "vertical" but I am sure that I lack all vital signs, both clinical and otherwise. I attempt to purse my lips. I give up and pout instead. I leave "him" in the middle of the kitchen raking his hair.

Upstairs, I resist the urge to clamber back into bed and "hide." or "hide" under it. I dress my dirty body in clean clothes. I glug disinfectant [translation = anti bacterial mouthwash] as I have mislaid the 47 minutes I need to dismantle my mouth, clean each crevice and then reassemble the whole teeth, braces, elastic bands nightmare in my mouth following jaw surgery. [translation = steam clean and crochet] I wouldn't say that I am "panicking" yet, but the pressure is on and the minutes tick. I pray that no-one talks to me at school.

Senior son is at his most verbal and coherent, first thing in the morning. As we drive to school in the rain I am attentive. [translation = Californians generally lose the ability to drive, when a raindrop hits the windscreen] There are new roadworks, [translation = construction] cones and orange coated men for me to avoid. My daughter fingers the holes on her recorder. Junior’s feet tap away on the back of my seat. His brother chats to me –
“Do you know……what?”
“What dear?” We pass droves of children as they walk to school with parents and siblings.
“At school…….yesterday………….there is….was…a boy…an he, he, he…..was at recess with me……an he said ‘poo poo head’ to me and he said dah other thing was……er……’dumb’ …..he said those two fings to me.”
“Really! Do you think he was playing? Was he joking, trying to be funny perhaps?”
“No…..he was saying it to be mean.” I pause. There is no doubt in my mind. This is no longer one of those occasions where he has mis-read, or mis-understood someone else’s motives or intentions.
“Is he a big boy?”
“Yup, he is a fird grader.”
“Do you know his name or whose class he is in?”
“No…….but he is in room 8.”
“Can you tell me what he looks like?” I keep myself calm and hope for ‘good describing words.’
“Er no,………but……..he is over dere in the yellow cap.” I narrowly avoid slamming on the brakes. I pull into the curb swiftly and discover that I have somehow managed to remember how to parallel pass this bus with ease. I herd everyone onto the path, load myself with three backpacks and hold on to two hands to speed up the proceedings. We attempt trotting, starting off gently, a jumble of arms, legs, bodies and bags. We advance to cantering and then gallop down the road in pursuit of ‘yellow cap.’ We turn the corner. Gone. We crumple into a messy tumbled heap. Spittle has formed at the corner of my mouth. My glasses hide my "slitty" eyes.
“We missed him. Oh well,” says the magnanimous one. We continue on our way, with more composure. [translation = falling about in slow motion rather than in a high speed chase] I am down hearted. I needed to catch that child so that I could dis-member him. Suddenly I find myself more closely associated with mother "bears." I deliver each child to their appropriate room, first, second. Children are lined up in front of their mainstream classes. I SEE YELLOW CAP. I lean down to my son’s shoulder at the door to his classroom, held open by one of his lovely aides, “is that the guy?” I whisper. He glances over his shoulder, “sure that’s the guy." I look across at the children and turmoil.

A mother stands nearby. She turns her body and I recognise her, the woman who no longer makes eye contact with me. We first met in the waiting room at speech therapy, an occasion where I was placed in the hot seat and interrogated for signs, symptoms, causes and speculation during the 50 minutes with their respective speech pathologists, hers and mine. I was surprised when much later I met her at school again. I dithered. I could choose to be friendly but feared another cross examination. I chose the former. She advised me, in no uncertain terms, that they no longer bothered with speech therapy, too busy a schedule. Her body language advised me that she feared infection, "contagion" by association.

Do I see fear or loathing, now that her son is mainstreamed? Am I any good at "accurately" interpreting what I think I see? I remember that I have always been the worst judge of "character" on the planet, and that I am just as likely as the next body, to flare up given the right circumstances.

My son chooses full body contact departure and adds, "he’s the one that teased us last year too.” We kiss goodbye. Last year, when there were fewer words and more meltdowns. I love speech pathologists and therapists, all of them.

I wait until my son has disappeared from sight and the door is closed, before talking to the aid. As I leave I see the woman and her eight year old son kiss good-bye too. To each their "own." [translation = exclusive club membership is optional]
p.s. Please let me know, here in comments, or privately via e-mail [in my profile view] if
a] the linky dinkies 'work for you' or whether they are just a really annoying distraction?


b] Whether you also usually see 'through' optical illusions?


c] ignore the contradition between [a] and [b] above!
Maybe I am getting ideas above my "station" or over estimating my "capabilities"? I should probably stick with spouse's value system, those culled from "Mrs. Do" As You Would Be Done By, rather than let them "battle" it out.


Zaecus Celestis said...

a) I can't not follow them, and I find myself enjoying them. I don't know if deriving meaning from the pictures you selected is 'typical' or not.

b) "Through?" ... I don't know. I usually have a feeling that what I am looking at is somehow off, and some optical illusions have never worked for me (like those 3D cross-yer-eyes posters), but I think I only see through the former with practice and the latter... is it seeing 'through' it if it simply doesn't exist for you?

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I don't bother to open the links. Takes too long.

Hope your son had a better day at school. I simply keep telling my eldest to tell the teacher. Now, if I keep hearing the same child's name or I have constant excessive behaviour when he comes home... I will call the school and ask what's going on. But that doesn't happen very often.


Joeymom said...

I love the little links and pictures.

The optical illusions I prefer to see through are the ones where on the surface, children seem happy and everythingis peachy, but when you really get a good look, its all smoke and mirrors to hide real problems and challenges. My Dad was always about optical illusions. I don't have the time to create them.

The Jedi Family of Blogs said...

a) I hadn't actually noticed that the links were to pictures until I clicked one (I don't usually...). I thought they were to sites or previous posts :)

b) Turns out, I have some of the same visual/perceptual problems that Brendan has/had, so many optical illusions don't work for me (I feel lucky to be able to type at all, some days...). I tend to create my own, though. I adore being able to see what's going on at the front of my house by looking at the sliding glass door that faces the back & following various reflections...

Bullying... particularly by kids who more deserve pity than anger (thanks to their parents' cluelessness). We've run into this before. We've used role-playing very effectively, plus some simple rules like, go stand near a teacher or other adult if someone is saying inappropriate things to you. The role-playing is seen as an opportunity to help him find words to use in various situations. The more he practises, the better he can dredge them out when necessary. I wish the parents with the blindfolds on could understand the damage they are doing to their sweet children by denying them the acceptance they need (& deserve).

mysamiam said...

A) big mouth bullying sucks
B) as a former elementary school counselor, I can't tell you how hard it is to make a change here, no matter what kind of curriculum you use, as it is really a systemic problem, stemming from the bully's parents and upbringing. How can we change people. Dang, I wish I could just wave a wand. You are an awesome parent (and I can relate to that last minute spousal communication). CHEERS!!!!

Admin said...

Is there anything that pushes our parental buttons more than bullying? My daughter has ADHD, Anxiety and Attachment issues and bullies seem to find her by radar. Luckily, I'm able to homeschool her and my older son, but there are still situations when she has run-ins with bullies while playing with other kids or out in the community. I try not to react with anger, but it's hard. The "mother bear" thing, as you said. I like your linky-dinky things and pictures and I often see the side of the optical illusion that's supposed to be hard to see. You certainly have a way with words and make me chuckle. The braces sound like torture, but your description of your dentist saying you could take one off was hilarious.

kristina said...

Charlie spent two years with twin brothers---both younger than him, and bigger. (Their father was a cop in our town.) I sigh to admit this----but something was going on with those boys and him. I can never say what for sure --- we at first tried to be friendly with their parents which was, ahem, not so easy. (One tries.) Then it was polite d├ętente. Then it became clear they had a variety of things that no one else had (codeword for services from the school district that we did not know the likes of).

Charlie was puzzled by having two guys who looked pretty much alike (they are fraternal twins) and, even more, by having to always be second fiddle. He could not talk as well as either twin and, while not a small guy, was smaller than the other two. I think he felt threatened and not a priority.

The final straw was when an administrator said that Charlie could have his own aide who knew a lot about autistic children because she had worked with those twins----very different issues from Charlie---that was it!

But maybe I am rushing to judgment and pronouncements here but, from one mother bear to another, what else would we do but rise to defend our young charges?

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