Saturday, August 25, 2007

Flashbacks and earworms

Had all the lyrics memorized to this as soon as I bought her first album.

And this was my favorite from that album.

And then I have to include this. (Add some Echo and the Bunnymen and some Buddy Holly and you've just stepped into my Smith College dorm room, circa 1987.)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Neo, and her start to school

How many meetings can Suisan go to?
1, 2, 3, 4, ....

It's as if I'm living in a jump rope rhyme.

Anyhooo, before school started, I took Neo to a meeting with the VP of the Middle School to address her anxiety about starting back. He wanted to set up a meeting with all of her teachers to discuss her needs and develop a means of enriching her curriculum. But then he decided that she needed a schedule shift so that she could be in classes with her friends. So the meeting was put off.

This week he called to set up the meeting with all of her teachers. 7:40 in the morning before school. Gah. Extreme need for coffee expected.

I decided to bring along one of her sketch pads to show off her art, and show the teachers where her true interest lies. They were all suitably impressed. And I was impressed with them. Good questions, like, "How can we tell when she's tuning out in class? Is she one of those kids who masks really well, or is there an obvious way to tell when she's getting frustrated or bored?" (Answer: I'm not sure. I think she masks well, but you might want to talk to her two favorite teachers from last year and find out what she's like in class when she's engaged.)
(Cool moment: the VP says, "Oh, I've already talked to them and they have given me some excellent insights." OK, then. Wow. Not used to someone being proactive.)

Another good question: "What's her opinion on group work?" (Answer: She hates it. It makes her crazy.) (Cool moment: One teacher says, "I never assign group work if I can help it. The good students look around the room and start thinking of the rest of the class as 'those jokers who are going to bring down my A.'" In fact, all of the teachers expressed their displeasure with group work, to a person.)

I spoke to them about her letter on Monday night, and how she's really not getting the attention she needs at home, but that we're working on it. Also, that we'd like to do extra projects, but if they can be tied into the curriculum, so much the better. Every teacher, all of them, had ideas of extra projects which would appeal to her. (Wow. Prepared for a meeting. I'm not used to someone being proactive.)

At the end of the meeting her Math teacher says, "I'm concerned that she's been placed in the wrong period. She has Math last period in the day, which is hard enough, but in that group of kids she really sticks out like a sore thumb."

The VP asks, "Do you have a period where you think she'd be a better fit?"

"I think Third Period. They're a quiet, focused group of kids."

"OK, she has PE third period. Can we switch her?" Everyone nods. "Right. I'll go put it into the computer when we're done, assuming there's room."

Ye gods. I'm falling off my chair here.

When Neo came home, I asked if anyone had told her about the proposed schedule change, and did she know if it was going to go into effect on Friday? Maybe Monday?

"Oh, no Mom. VP L came to my second period class with a new schedule and told me to go to Math."

"Man, he doesn't miss a beat, does he?"


"Do you like this Math better?"

"Oh YEAH! Third Period Rocks! There's no chattering. It's great!"

Well, then.

For all that I've fought with the school district for my son's needs, I'm sorta blown out of the water with the response at the Middle School. (Although, I have to say here, that I think it's because Neo made friends with this one VP. He's amazing, and I have gotten the run around before from other staffers there. But hey. He's in a position of power and he wants to make school work for Neo. Excellent. Yay!)

She also told me that almost all of her teachers spoke to her privately during the day to say that they were so impressed with her art work, and that they were so happy she was in their class. I wish MY teachers at Middle School had done that for me. Jeez, memories of seventh grade can still pull me awake in the middle of the night. ::Shudder::

I'm not sure that everything's A-100%-OK, as our insistence that she clean her room last night sent her into a sulk, but overall, I'm feeling really good that SHE has someone she can go to on campus when she needs help, and I have someone I can call if things start spiralling. Good feeling, that.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

First week of School

Losing my mind.

Running around like a nut.

First week of school. Gah.


My son is staying in school. He likes his teacher. He likes his aide. They are letting him do his own work at his own pace and therefore he's not that anxious. Although, he did have one upset when the class went outdoors to do an exercises together. His IEP says no PE because large chaotic loud activities get him overstimulated, but I guess it didn't occur to anyone that it also applied to classroom stuff? I dunno. Bit of a head shaker there.

Littlest daughter is, of course, loving First Grade. She has homework and she's so proud. She stays the whole day, and she's so proud. She brings Lunch (or even better -- BUYS LUNCH) and loves, just loves, eating lunch in the big cafeteria.

Not so great news:

Neo was really upset on her first day of school. Tired. Anxious. Felt as if I spent too much time with the other kids after school. Really upset. She wrote a "cry for help" on her own blog that evening, which was disturbing enough that I took it down and had to call Dear Butcher to come home early to be with her on the second day of school. Now she says she's fine and it was all an overreaction. OK, but, uh, I have to take you seriously when you say serious things. Right? Jeez, welcome to the teenage years.

Last night a parent called -- a friend of littlest daughter said that she had been punched on the playground. What?

"Phebe, were you punched today?"

"Uh. No. Not really."

"Were you scared today on the playground?"

"Um, yeah."

"Was Grant scared on the playground?"


"Did he get hurt?"

"Well, he didn't get punched. But this other kid came over to us and pulled his arm really hard."

"Did you tell anyone? An adult?"

"Well, we sorta talked about telling someone, and we were gong to, but then we forgot."

Got that all straightened out and had to go in early to talk to her teacher about the incident and maybe letting First Graders know that they had to talk to adults about stuff that happened so they wouldn't be scared on the playground. Her teacher was really upset. Poor Phebe -- she didn't want to get anyone else in trouble.

Last bit of odd news regards Saul. Why is this always so frustrating?

Last year we made it super clear that there was one staff member who was not to come near Saul ever again. This was the woman who assaulted him in the hallway. Now, he's worked with her after that incident in a small room with another adult nearby, and has never expressed fear of her nor has he ever been impolite to her. However, he still talks about her and this summer at camp he was screaming her name when he was being restrained by the counselors. Again at the beginning of the year, we said that we did not want him near her.

Problem is, she's an aide for another boy in Saul's grade. That's fine. Those two work well together, and I don't want to insert myself into that boy's education.

Except, that boy's mom is a teacher in the school and she requested that her son have the classroom teacher that Saul has. OK, that's fine. The principal told me in early August that she had already told the mother/teacher that she could have her choice of aide or her choice of teacher, but she couldn't have both. That aide was not to be in that teacher's class. She chose the teacher. OK, fine. So she understands that the aide will not be in the class. "Yes," says the principal. "Her son only gets the teacher, and we'll find another aide for her son." Ok, whatever. Don't really know why you told me then.

School starts. The other boy has NO aide. They never hired a replacement. The Spec Ed teacher comes to me and says that she's surprised to see the other boy in that class and could she place the aide with that boy?

"Look, I don't want to be putting myself in his IEP. But I've made it clear that Saul is not to interact with her at all."

"If she's in the class, she won't be working with Saul. She'll be working with her own boy. Saul only has to work with his teacher and his aide. That's it."

"I'm not going to tell you what to do for that boy. It's none of my business. But I've made my point of view really clear."

"But I've seen them together. He's fine with her."

"Yes, that may be true. He tries very hard to be polite, and I think he's probably OK with her in general. But you were in the room with them, and he feels safe with you. He's an unpredictable child. I can't predict how he'll treat or react to her. I know he's expressed fear of her over the summer, and I don't want him being with her at all. I will not set up an environment were he's more likely to blow." And from there the conversation veered off into other topics.

Monday, he brought home three math problems, 22 fewer than the rest of the class, since he had done so much work in school. Very proud of himself.

Yesterday he brings home his corrected Math. It's been torn in half, crumpled, and taped back together again. At the top of the paper the number of wrong answers (3) is written. Usually he gets the number of right answers written down. (Which would have been 22/25.) OK, I sigh to myself, someone hasn't been told what he's used to when correcting his work. So he got it back, saw the number of wrongs and tore it up in frustration. Damn. And he was so proud of it too. Oh, well. I'll talk to the teacher this afternoon about it, or ask the Spec Ed teacher to mention it to him. No big deal.

Come to find out that the teacher didn't correct the math homework. It was the aide whom I never wanted in the class who corrected the entire class's work. What? What's she doing there? And why isn't she Working With Her Own Assigned Kid?

Fuck Fuck Fuck. So she's the one who wrote the thing down wrong. And she's ONCE AGAIN stepped outside of her assigned work to do stuff that she's not supposed to do. This is why I didn't want her in the class. Dammit.

But, all sighing aside, all three of my kids are in school. It's shocking, really. Look at all the laundry I could get done. Umm, yeah.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Had one of these today:

Picture from Nebraska Wildlife Service webpage

Got home from getting haircuts for me and Neo. The whole house smelled of smoke and slowly thelight turned orange.

Soon I realized, standing out in the backyard, that I couldn't see the sky in any direction. It was all smoke, and ashes were falling in the backyard. (We live on top of a hill with grassy open spaces all around the house.) Neo came outside to ask, "Why are there fire trucks parked outside the house?" Sure enough, fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, and they were in the process of blocking off our street and the neighboring street to traffic.

OK then. I really don't feel like waiting around for an evacuation order. So I started packing the car with the animals. One dog, three frogs, one snake, four guinea pigs, two kids, my laptop, lockbox, camera, and my purse get piled into the car. I had to go get the third child from camp.

Driving away from the house, I realized that I am not a true Californian. Not deep down in the blood. The hill that burned was near my house, but jeez, it was in the backyards of the houses on the main road. And there are the neighbors, standing in their garages, sprinkling the front lawns. And I'm evacuating the animals. I'm not going to stick around and fight for the house. There's no way I'd be able to pay off repairs on it as it is. Getting the heck out of Dodge is my only concern.

Poor Neo. As soon as we hit a stoplight she burst into tears. How very scary.

But, after a side trip to the District Office, where I knew they had cold water and an ample supply of Advil, we came on home. The whole place smells like smoke and ashes, but the fire's out and we're all safe. (The guinea pigs aren't talking to me though.) Saul is very excited to think that we've gone through our first REAL fire drill. As he unpacked the car he said, "Sorry I took so much stuff, Mom. Next time we practice, I'll know better what to do."

I need a drink and a lie down.

Oreo songs and commercials

Did anyone play hand clap games as a kid?

I distinctly remember singing a song in camp with my hand slap/clap friends which was based off an Oreo commercial. (And it wasn't the jingle from the eighties -- Ice cold milk and an Oreo cookie/ They forever go together, a classic combination/When a dark delicious cookie meets an icy cold sensation., etc. That's a good lyric, but one we clapped too was about twisting them open.)

But now I can't find either the lyrics, a video clip, or a sequence of the claps. But it was distinctive, and you would think someone in their forties would have remembered this from childhood and posted in teh internets.

It had to do with twisting the chocolate wafers off, as I've said. The hand slap started with your own hands clapped together. Then you brushed the back of your hands against the back of your partners, first on the left then on the right. Then you held the backs of your hands together, separated your hands, and clapped against your partners hands above, clapped your own, and then below, keeping your back-to-back hands stationary the whole time. I don't remember the rest of the sequence.

Both my girls are now doing Miss Mary Mack; Miss Suzy Had a Steamboat; Slide, Slide, Baby; Rockin Robin; and Cinderella Dressed in Yella. It's been fun, but the Oreo memory is making me a touch crazy.

Does anyone remember this?

Maybe it was only a Quinebarge camp thing? No. I remember the commercial -- one girl had long braids, hair parted in the middle.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

And the plan is...

to keep planning.

I do hate these little mottos.

After meeting for another two hours regarding the educational plan for my son, the adults have come up with a plan for his next year. Until such time as we can a) get his meds under control, b) get his behavior under control, and/or c) find a private school which is set up to deal with a bright boy who has episodes, the district will take care of him as follows.

He will have a seat in a regular fourth grade classroom, and every attempt will be made (slowly and carefully) to introduce him back into a classroom setting. Realistically, that won't actually happen until well into February or March, but in the meantime, he will have a relationship with his teacher and will visit the classroom and participate in classroom activities whenever he feels up to it. He is not to be made to stay in a situation which upsets him ("for his own good") until he explodes, thereby embarrassing him and making his next visit harder.

He will have a district teacher, Mr. Aitch, come to the house to lead him through a self-directed curriculum. Mr. Aitch will stay as long as Saul can tolerate it and will start with what Saul is interested in and branch out from there.

Other rules set forth in the IEP include:
  • Police will NOT be called for "acting out episodes."
  • No PE for Saul -- he escalates in loud situations and under competitive circumstances.
  • Saul MUST be allowed to leave the classroom or ANY area of school as soon as he says, "I need to go to the office." No one should try to talk him out of going to the office. This may trigger an episode.
  • Staff need to RESPECT the Saul's aides and teachers know what Saul needs and will support him. Only Saul's team should work with him or offer suggestions. (In other words, suggestions that "all he needs is a good spanking" or "Perhaps a round of anger management courses will help" are not appreciated and now violate his legal IEP document.)
  • All members of the team will attempt to use the "lingo list" for cues and supportive statements/redirections to keep his environment stable.
  • Saul may dictate answers and essays as writing frustrates him.

Mr. Aitch is pretty cool. He worked with an agoraphobic child last year and brought along that child's curriculum. Started out very focused on the one thing the child was interested in: microscopes. They spent a week looking at various things through the microscope, and then branched out very slowly to include math, writing, history, etc., but always looping back to the microscope. Poor guy. He's sitting in on this meeting, hearing about Saul's behavior, and you can just see him going white. Every once in a while, someone remembered to reassure him, but it wasn't often. By the end of the meeting though, he started popping in a with a suggestion or a question. As we were walking out of the school he said to Dear Butcher, "I think your son is a lucky child. He's going to come through this just fine with a great sense of how to educate himself. He's going to be a great college student."

Thank you, Mr. Aitch.

I told Neo that someone named Mr. Aitch was going to come to the house, and she almost swooned. "I love Mr. Aitch! He subbed in my Science class! He brought us charcoal drawings and talked with us. Saul's sooo lucky!" I looked at Mr. Aitch's card. Sure enough, it says, "Middle School Science and Math Teacher". Kewl.


On the political front, things still suck. I sent a written statement to the papers explaining that I was bowing out for personal reasons and asked the community to respect my very young children by not trying to scope out what those reasons might be. The balance of the Board is now pissed that I made my own statement to the papers. Since when have I sent anything on to you all for approval before I spoke? Jeez. (On the other hand, the article's not all great; I'm listed in the paper as being a native of New York, not of Beantown. Damn.)

Thanks for all the comments on the previous post -- they helped a lot.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Well, that's it, then.

Post number 401. Wow. That takes a second to absorb. Been blogging a while, I see.

The news of the day: I'm not going to be running for re-election. I'll still serve the rest of my term into December of 2007, but I'm not filing to be on the ballot.

I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with myself -- the thought of being home alone with my son, no matter how much I love him, is truly terrifying. Yeah, no one understands him the way I do. Yeah, it's the best thing for him. Yeah, he'll eventually get back into school. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever.

I spoke to the board president about a week ago about whether or not I should run. He's been avoiding my calls. His secretary will say he's in the office, but then after a long hold, she comes back on to say that he'll have to call me back. I know this pattern. Great.

I told him last Friday that I was pretty sure I wasn't going to run. Not a single word of "I'll miss you" or "You've contributed so much" or anything else that would have been, I dunno, pleasant to hear. All he said was, "I think that's for the best." He specifically pointed out that my son would be a political liability to me. Thanks, dude. You're the best.

Yesterday Dear Butcher really pressured me to stay on the Board, if just for my own sanity if nothing else. Not to run a campaign or anything, but just get the name on the ballot and see what happens. I had a Board meeting last night, so I pulled the president out into the hallway and told him that I was reconsidering. His response? "I've already lined up some people to run. I've been doing a lot of work, based on what you told me last week. You're killing me here."

Glad to know this is all about you.

I asked him if we could talk this morning. Today's the last day I can pull papers at the elections office. "No. I've got meetings all morning." I gave him a disgusted look and said, "Well then. You're making yourself pretty clear. No time at all to talk?" He shook his head.

After the meeting, two other board members, tipped off by him, danced around the subject of my running and all gave me separate reasons why it wouldn't be a good thing. Nod and Smile. Nod and Smile.

I went out for drinks with the Superintendent and one of the Board members, who said nothing else during the evening. Every once in a while, someone at the table would ask if I was OK, and I'd say, "No," and the conversation would continue on.

This morning I got a call from the prez while Dear Butcher was still home. Prez sez that he's promised endorsements to his two candidates, and that he's lines up more endorsements from sitting board members, including the one I shared drinks with last night. So if I put my name on the ballot, I won't be getting any support, but of course it's my decision. He also says that he'd hate to see me hung out to dry (even though he's just told me that he's done it). Then he has the nerve to say that he cares about me, is concerned about me, and how am I doing?

Jesus Fucking Christ. How is one supposed to answer such a thing? Every time he's been attacked, I had his back. His family has gone through attacks because he pulled his older kids out to attend Catholic school. I stood up for that decision. There have been two controversial votes, including the closing of a school, that he didn't show up for, and I am the only recorded vote on those issues. I've run meetings for him when he couldn't make it. But he's worried that my son is going to kill my reputation? Thanks, bud.

(True reason here for the switch in support is that I don't agree with some of the raises that the staff have been getting. We need to hold some money back for trainings and recruitment of newer staff, but he doesn't agree with me. So, buh-bye.)

Running, not running, I've gone back and forth on that one a lot, so his pressuring me isn't really what's bothering me. But, damn, are my feelings hurt. I'm a workhorse for that Board. And mostly, the rest of the Board doesn't even bother to read what they ask me to produce. Hundreds of pages of policy edits? No one reads it. They don't even want to *discuss* policy, which is supposed to be a separate item on every agenda. Every meeting I have to take them through the report and point out where it says in bold "Option 1" and "Option 2". Negotiations? No one listens to the reports we make. No one reads the contract. No one even reads the proposed settlement agreement before voting on it.

Politics, decision-making, finding a compromise, standing up for what you believe in, drafting a statement that encapsulates your priorities, I love that part, and I get annoyed when people say they hate politicians. Because the politicians are the ones who ARE deciding what is going on in your town or in your schools. They/we WANT to hear from people to find out what will work or won't work in any community.

But this part of politics, the gamesmanship, the campaigning, this part sucks.

I feel like I've been kicked hard right in the stomach. *Just* what I needed.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Quest for a Solution

Here we go again with my son.

I am so upset, frustrated, sad, and raw that it's gone past crying when I talk about him. Now the tears start when I start typing about him. This wonderful kid is killing me, body and soul.

We ended out last year's school year with another IEP meeting. (Those are the meetings which codify his Special Ed plan and implementation.) All year long we'd been saying that he had to get to know his fourth grade teacher before third grade ended. Well, long story short, at the end of the year there were vacancies in fourth grade, so no one knew who his fourth grade teacher would be, but there were promises made that he would meet his new teacher at least once before school started. (That' not QUITE the same thing as having him build a relationship with the new teacher during the school year, but what can you do if the people aren't hired yet?) At that IEP meeting it was also determined that he would, for three weeks, attend a camp for kids with behavior problems.

I'm so impressed with this camp. The director and his senior staff are all psychologists; the counselors are college seniors majoring in psych. Super positive, super consistent, high energy, respectful: a great place.

The first day my son threatened a counselor with a rock. I have TONS of respect for the staff, and I can tell by the way they told the story that they tried at every opportunity to give him the chance to calm down. He's stubborn, Saul is. Once he gets truly riled up, he's not stopping for anything. My son kept right on escalating, until the assistant director, Zach, had to physically restrain him. Well, then it's all over. Dear Butcher had to go get him early. (Zach asked Dear Butcher who Mrs. D was -- Saul had been screaming the name of the woman, an untrained aide, who assaulted him three times during school.) Shit, you know, as a mother, that's enough to send you right over the edge.

Zach and Dear Butcher spent another hour talking about Saul and with Saul. The kid kept coming back to, "Well, I never THREW the rock," and (something of my favorite) "You know, you can put up a whole wall of rules, and I'm going to find the loose brick there and get through it." (Zach turned to Dear Butcher at that point and said something close to, "Pretty advanced for his age, isn't he?" Yep. That's Saul. Too darned smart for his own good.)

He had to be restrained by another counselor the next day, but he calmed down, and the day after he had perfect behavior points and won "Camper of the Day". Yes, we're seeing improvements, he's getting it, he's listening to us and to himself, and he's coming back with some hysterical vocabulary. "I got a point for initiating contact today at lunch!" Gotta love psychologists.

(side bar) Another funny one:
"My primary behavior goal is to be more reliant. Resistant?"
"Surely it's not resistant, Saul. Maybe, ummmm, resilient?"
"Yeah! That's it. Resilient!"
"That's a good goal!"
"Yeah.... What does resilient mean anyway?"

First week went well overall. I had a conversation with his principal who's back at work about her new hires and how to set up Saul's environment at school. I had to warn her though that he Could Not come in contact with Mrs. D, and that Zach had reported that Saul was exhibiting new behavior. After he calmed himself down, once they were inside in opposite corners of the room waiting for Dad to arrive, Saul would talk to himself. He was able to whip himself back up into his previous anger and would start coming back across the room towards Zach, yelling and accusing him all over again. Saul has kicked out in frustration before, but this aggression is brand new.

Second week of camp (this week): things start off great. Mondays and Wednesdays the kids go by bus to a swimming pool. Wednesday, the buses never came. 134 kids with behavior problems standing in their swim trunks in 98 degree heat, waiting for the buses which don't show. Boom!

Saul tried to leave camp, but his counselor stood between him and the entrance to the parking lot. (New behavior--) He spit on her and started swearing. Then he took his shoe off (wha?) and threw it at her. An hour later I was called to come get him again. Zach met me at the car in a fresh shirt because his was again soaked. (Interestingly, he immediately stopped his aggression and calmed down when they brought out a video camera; they told him they had to document his behaviors. Saul said he didn't want his parents seeing it, so he stopped and asked them to take the camera away. Whoa.)

Thursday I talked with both the Director of Special Ed in the District and with Saul's psychiatrist. SpecEd Director is intrigued that he's targeting adults, not kids, and she feels as if this ties into her observations of his anxiety attacks he had in February where he was unable to come into the hallway and instead stayed out in the rain pacing for hours. She's as concerned as I am about what this means for his behavior during the first week of school. She's trying to assemble a team of people who know how to respectfully and carefully restrain students to be stationed at that school for the first week. We agree that all adults have to immediately meet. Also, she asks me to ask the camp director if he can help her in her search for an appropriate private placement for him if the public setting will not work. So far she has found schools which will take in violent or disturbed children, but which would terrify Saul, or ones which teach brilliant and sensitive kids, but will not take in kids with episodic behavior, as it terrifies the other students.

My conversation with the psychiatrist is un-fucking-believable. Saul's currently on Ritalin for impulse control - I want him switched to an anti-anxiety, which the psychiatrist had said he would do at the end of the summer when school anxiety was likely to start up again. Psychiatrist now says that there's no point in the anti-anxiety, because it won't build up fast enough to affect his behavior at camp (yes, I know that), and he can't prescribe it now to prepare for the start of school, because he can't predict what Saul's behavior will be in the future. Maybe he WON'T act up. He's older now. Maybe he'll tolerate it better.

Oh. My. GOD!

How many YEARS have I been saying to people that he is at his worst in the beginning of school? Please stop telling me that he'll grow out of it. Please. PLEASE! I'm trying to be proactive here, folks.

Then the psychiatrist say he has to get off the phone, but maybe I can set up an appointment with him to discuss meds some more. "He may not need any medication at this point. You're seeing that Asperger's come out now. But remember, nothing succeeds like success. Just keep him in a positive place, and he'll learn how to deal with his Apserger's on his own." Are you fucking KIDDING ME? Aren't you a DOCTOR? Do you even TREAT any Asperger's kids? Do you know that a lot of them are on, wait for it, anti-anxiety medications? Watch Suisan walk around the house muttering at walls and gesticulating at ghosts.

Thursday night Dear Butcher and I go to a parent's meeting at the camp, and ask the Director about private school referrals. He's been running the camp for 15 years, has a staff of 25, and knows of no school which would meet Saul's needs, nor do any of his staff work at a school like that. But he'll ask around. Great. Perfect. If he can't control himself in a public school, then we're looking either at homeschooling, where I am responsible for keeping things interesting, social, and positive 24/7, or a placement in a facility for violent children. Fuck me.

Friday I head off to the Psychiatrist's office full of vim and vinegar. You'll be happy to know that Saul's behavior is all my fault. According to the psychiatrist, Saul acted up on the first day because he knew that I was nervous. Saul should be so grateful that he has a father like Dear Butcher who can come and get him at camp. I need to keep things positive and light.

I swallowed every single, "Fuck you, you ignorant asshole. I AM the one who keeps things light! Dad is not perfect, you ass! I'm trying to HELP my kid by getting him meds! Isn't that why you're fucking on this case, you arrogant fuckity fuck!" I nodded respectfully at every platitude he spouted. He gave me titles of books to read. Oh, thank you. He talked about success and self- esteem. Oh, thank you. He talked about the beauty of a complex child. Mmm, hadn't considered that. At the very last minute of the hour, I told him that I needed that prescription now, and that of course I wouldn't DREAM of starting the meds until I had talked to Dear Butcher and he had imparted his wisdom unto me, and that yes, we would together, as good parents, curl up in front of a fire and read passages of these books together to each other. Mmm. Togetherness. Now Give Me The Damned Prescription! Thank you.

When I got in my car, the empty gas tank light went on. Fuck me. While I was filling up the tank, I got a call from camp to please come get Saul. He kicked and struck the camp director, Dr. Bob. This was his third strike on a three strikes aggression policy, but we could talk about it when I go there. Fine. It will take me at least forty minutes to get there, as I have to go track down my eldest daughter who's at a sleepover. OK.

I start heading home, calling the friend's house, who won't answer, when a cop pulls me over for speeding. Jesus Christ. Incoherent sobbing has a way of turning a speeding ticket into a "Calm down and slow down, OK?"

On the road to camp, I called the SpecEd Director again. More sobbing. We're still going to meet, and she wants to observe the camp program and ask them to help with Saul's behavior plans, she's even going to ask if they have any counselors who are interested in taking a job at the district as aides, but she's now talking about having him at home. Fuck me.

At camp, I started crying again. Zach pulled me into a doorway behind some hedges and was very, very kind. He wants to keep working with Saul. He wants Saul in their after school program. He wants to come to Saul's IEPs and he wants to work with the District. He wants Saul to come back next year to camp. Saul has made progress and will succeed at camp. He's bright. He's caring. We respect him very much. We just don't have the staff to monitor him if he takes himself out of an activity for hours on end. He's going to get through this. We're not ending out relationship with Saul.

We went to get Saul. The day before, Zach had given Saul a half-dollar coin he had found on the ground.

"Hey Saul. Do you have that coin? OK," says Zach, holding it in his hands. "I'm giving this back to you. I want you to know that this coin means that I respect you and like you. You look at this coin, and I want you to know that it means that I am going to see you again. I want you to keep this and look at it when you need to to remind yourself that I care about you. Zach cares about you, and Zach knows that you are a great kid with great ideas. You need to head out with your Mom and get some lunch. That pizza didn't look so good with the footprint on it, you know?"

The grin on Saul's face would have lit up a city. "OK, Zach." He turned to me and said, "Dr. Bob said I was paranoid. Twice he said I was paranoid."

"Well? I dunno. I think we have to talk together with Dr. Bob, don't you?"


Zach said, "No one's out to get you, Saul. We really like you and respect you. You're very, very smart. We're going to help you through this."

"Saul," I said. "Camp is ending, but not Quest. OK? We're going to keep up with Quest and you're coming back next year for more swimming and more games, OK?"

"OK. Love you, Mom."

"Love you too, man."


So we've got two weeks at home before school starts on the 20th.

I'm right back, albeit with more resources and more information, where I was at the start of the year last year.

I'm dying. How in the hell is this going to get better, and when will it get better? He doesn't act up at home in the same way he does at school, because we run our lives around him. But, seriously, I don't know how I'm going to make it through.