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Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Leith Police Dismisseth us*

I fold laundry and consider the pros and cons of the school’s policy towards treats. I am already a card carrying member of the food police. Healthy eating could be my second name. However, approved treats such as carrots, grapes, watermelon and their ilk, do not fit into my own son’s current repetoire. Until this year I have always ensured that my contribution was a plate of tiny bite sized chocolate buns, each topped off with a flourish of ganache. They are far too rich, decadent and sophisticated for the average 6 year old. He will be fobbed off with nothing less than Belgium, or if really pushed, Swiss chocolate.

Each class has what is known as a ‘room mom,’ a person who co-ordinates the volunteers and their offerings. The current room mom has ignored the food policy, rebel that she is. My contribution, as specified, is a tray of muffins, shop bought, sugary and vile. I shall have no choice but to smuggle in contraband in the form of baggyful of Goldfish crackers.


I move swiftly past him, weighed down with several tones of clean linen, because I am a woman on a mission and I will not be deflected from task completion by minor irrelevancies. I pause and look back at him, the trivial irrelevance. He is still. He is more than still! He is static and has no electronic device in his hands. His hands are limp. All of him is limp and listless, a pillow with half it’s stuffing adrift, chin dropped to chest, eyes hidden under of mop of mousy hair. His bottom is on the chair seat. He sits! Good grief! That is the finest ‘sit’ I have ever seen. He is also quiet. Nay! Silent.

I drop the laundry and jump over to him. My palm glues itself to his brow. I forget to warn him that I am about to touch him, touch him in the ‘off limits’ area, that is everything above his shoulders. It is the invisible bubble of the more extreme tactile defensiveness. He doesn’t even flinch. Not a squalk nor a squeak. My expert medical knowledge alerts me to the fact that death must be imminent. I scoop him up as I am excused from the ‘no carrying’ campaign due to exigent circumstances. With his head back I can see orange mucus all over his face. A clear case of Rabies if ever I saw one. What does one do for Rabies? My only knowledge of Rabies is limited to dogs, usually from a very safe distance, and mainly in my vivid imagination at 3 in the morning whilst I pretend to be asleep. He is enveloped in a sweet and sickly odour as his body erupts with an earthquake of a burp. This proves to be the relief that he needed and releases the words, “ooo I am dah bad.”
“No, no, no, you’ll soon be better now. Perhaps you just have a tummy ache?” which would be a great improvement on internment.
“No, it not be dah ache.”
“Not ache?”
“No? What then? Can you help me understand? Can you use your good describing words for me?”
“Er…..” he flicks his eyeballs at me briefly before continuing, “I fink dat maybe…….I am allergic to sugar.”
“What?” All those perfect words and I have absolutely no clue.
“Or maybe I am allergic to dah orange?”
“Orange? You don’t eat oranges or orange juice or….orange anything come to think of it? ” Are Goldfish crackers orange? My dear little neophobe currently eats the sum total of 17 foods, as we have had no success in moving him on to number 18.
“I be eat dah Halloween.”
“You do?” I glance across at the shop bought tray of Halloween neon frosted cup cakes for the school party. Somebody’s tactile defensive fingertips have fought with the seleotape that seals the tray. Somebody’s uncoordinated, sequenced challenged arms have removed the lid. At nearly seven, after four years of intensive therapy, it has finally paid off. We have a return on our investment. Now we have a thief. Hallelujah.

* a rhyme and a tongue twister

The Leith police dismisseth us,
They thought we sought to stay;
The Leith police dismisseth us,
They thought we'd stay all day.
The Leith police dismisseth us,
We both sighed sighs apiece;
And the sighs that we sighed as we said goodbye
Were the size of the Leith police.

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