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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.

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