Friday, September 21, 2012

Crimes and Misdemeanors

It has come to my attention that after I wander up to bed at night, Kiah the Wonder Dog jumps on the couch to sleep. I caught her the other night. She wasn’t even repentant. She looked at me smugly, stretched and curled up like a cat in the corner, yawned, and then I think she drooled on a pillow. This is a total breach of trust and our relationship is suffering.

My relationship with the kids’ school is also suffering. This has been a long yawn of a week. Ella came home with an inevitable cold and I’ve kept her home two days. This has totally messed up my home-alone routine, which does NOT consist of watching What Not to Wear on the tv because that would be a complete waste of time, no matter how valuable I think the information provided might be. (I am in serious danger of becoming a 30-something frump, according to the pretty people on the tv.)

Ella could have gone to school. I could’ve slathered Vaseline under her nose, armed her with lotion-infused tissues, and sent her on the big yellow bus. But I fear she annoys her teacher when she is well; a sick Ella might push the poor woman over the edge.

I cannot tell you how weary I am of receiving e-mails detailing Ella’s many crimes and misdemeanors. This is a completely new experience for me! My first two children were, of course, perfect in every way, and remain perennial favorites among the staff at the local elementary school. You can imagine what a shock it is to have spawned an imperfect daughter, one who colors on the desk and dances at inopportune moments during the day, say during computer time.

Apparently, the good people at the elementary school have never seen the likes of an Ella! They remain baffled and are constantly asking me why it is that she refuses to flush the toilet. My answer, “she’s terrified of flushing toilets,” does not go over well with them. Is it so inconceivable that a child with a sensory disorder might be unnerved by the sound of a flushing toilet? What sounds like a mere whoosh to me sounds like freaking Niagara Falls to her. If every time you flushed the toilet it felt like you were about to make a watery descent into the Niagara River, you might be reticent to push the lever too. Even if you’d just gone #2. (It is a felony, apparently, to go #2 at the local elementary school and not flush. A felony, I tell you!) As I imagined, the first fire drill of the year did not go over well, either.

There was a note home about that, let me tell you. That was the day after I received a terse e-mail informing me that “Ella refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance today.”

Holy crap! Refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance??? Stop the presses! This is truly newsworthy.

There are other concerns. Ella does not transition well. Ella always wants to be first. Ella cries a lot. Ella eats glue. Ella randomly takes off her shoes and flings them in the general direction of the door. (Because that’s where shoes go, by the door.)

Ella showed her belly button to the entire class and said, “I naked! Ha ha ha ha!”

I, a worrier by nature, am not sleeping at night. Not even after taking Benadryl! This is unprecedented.

So this afternoon, I told Ella she had to take a nap so I could take a nap, but the child would not sleep. Noises came from her bedroom. After twenty minutes, I wandered in and caught my chapped-lip daughter rolling around in her bed, eyes squeezed shut, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with panache.

I wandered downstairs to make some tea and caught a sheepish Kiah lying on the couch. After some consideration, I decided not to let it bother me.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Why I Cried in the Wegmans Check-Out Line

“I see you’re purchasing medium-bristled toothbrushes,” said the cashier.


“Actually, it’s best to purchase soft-bristled toothbrushes. Dentists recommend them because they’re a lot gentler on your gums.”  She ceased scanning the remainder of my items as she waited for me to have a come-to-Jesus moment about my toothbrush selection.

I stood my ground.

“So you want to stick with these, then?”

“I think so,” I said. She sighed.


The gum-destroying toothbrushes went into a bag, along with other assorted items she did not pass judgment on, including non-organic spinach and a bottle of Mountain Dew. Her disapproval was implied, however, in the way she handled my peanut butter.

“Do you want your milk in a bag?”

“No, that’s okay,” I sniveled. I tried to forcibly send the tears back into the ducts from whence they came, but, alas, it wasn't happening.

I mean, who was she to pass judgment on my toothbrush choices? I feel like my teeth are smoother and cleaner when I use the medium-bristled toothbrushes. It’s not like I’m forcing them on my kids. I’m not pushing a medium-bristled toothbrush agenda on my friends and family. I’m not making it a topic of debate in the upcoming presidential election.

Emotions are raw. The kindergarten teacher has already had the school psychologist come in and observe Ella. This happened on the first day! I’m concerned this is some kind of school record that will be discussed in the faculty lounge for years to come. Yesterday, the school counselor came in to assist with Ella because the teacher was unable to handle her on her own. Meetings are being scheduled, IEPs are being revised, and an emergency school-wide assembly about how to handle my daughter is being organized. They’re doing it on the same day as the first fire drill.

Dear God, I can’t imagine how Ella’s going to respond to the fire alarm. I hadn’t thought about that.

Every single fear I had about Ella and kindergarten has already come true. (Except the fire-drill concern, which just came upon me 20 seconds ago.) The first week, and all my fears were realized. As you can imagine, I am ridden with anxiety and have been rendered physically unable to do any housework. Also, I cry a lot.

Like on the phone with the secretary at the Kirch Center.

I told her I needed to get in as soon as possible, that Ella was having serious problems at school.

“I can get you in March 9th at 2:00,” she said. My heart dropped, like, into my feet. This was unacceptable!

“This is-“ (snivel) “unacceptable,” I said. Then I threw a minor tantrum. As I said, emotions were raw. But you’ll never guess what. The secretary found an opening on October 2nd! Isn’t that amazing?

There’s a method to Ella’s madness, at least in the tantrum department.

Caleb had a bone scan last week and his results came in on the first day of school. He has a rather severe bone growth delay. He is 9 ½, but his bones think he’s 6.

Stupid bones.

The tears came forth. Ramona was perplexed.

“It’s okay. I don’t mind putting the milk in bags,” she said.

“I have kids,” I blubbered. “and it’s the first week of school.” Ramona nodded. An unspoken understanding passed between us. She is a mom as well. Her kids are lucky, to have a mom so passionate about gum health.

My kids are lucky, too. Because when she’s done crying, their mom is going to move mountains to make sure they get the help they need.  Then, and only then, she might clean the house.


“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Elizabeth Stone