You Take The Good, You Take The Bad…

A few weeks ago, Dave and I met with a psychiatrist that works with Joe’s school. It was our first meeting. You know, kind of an informational session…these are our concerns…the pediatrician thinks it’s Asperger’s, the therapist thinks it’s social anxiety and there’s a two-year wait for the specialist that will eventually give us the real skinny.

Anywho… Joe has actually been doing much better. We recently switched his ADHD medication for a new one. No sleep issues and his appetite is better. Most importantly, there have been no psychotic and completely out of character mood swings. Just a little guy with a super busy brain who can now sit through six hours at school without major issues. It seems to me that his social anxiety has improved a bit too…which leads me to conclude that he might not actually have Asperger’s but hey, I’m no doctor.

So now that I’ve caught you up a bit on Joe’s state of affairs, let me tell you how the meeting with the school’s psychiatrist went.

It went well.

I think.

He asked if Joe had ever been subject to physical, emotional or sexual abuse.


Though, there was that time I spanked him for biting Gwen’s cheek four years ago. Or that time last year he kept saying “piss” at school and the teacher called me repeatedly so I finally brushed a tiny red pepper flake on his tongue and then felt immediately guilty and still wonder if I’ve scarred him for life. But, no…no emotional or physical or sexual abuse…beside that red pepper flake.

I vaguely recall Blair from The Facts of Life being on the Today Show and defending Tabasco Sauce as discipline for children. As I watched that show, I also recall thinking, Jesus…that
Blair’s a real hard ass! I would have pegged Jo for that kind of abuse…her and her black leather jacket and motorcycle. She had a real chip on her shoulder when she showed up at Eastland.
Fast forward a couple of years and the memory of Blair and her spices filled my mind after good old soap failed to do the trick. I know, I suck. No need to send hateful mail.

There I go again, getting off the subject entirely.

So, the psychiatrist writes a note in his folder and moves on.

“Is there any history of alcoholism in the family?” he wondered, peering over the top of his bifocals.

Here’s where Dave and I looked at each other, snorted, laughed and said, “Uh…yeah! It’s rampant, man!”

Here’s also where the doctor chuckled along with us then stopped to look at us as if we were crazy. So we back-peddled.

“Uh, well…I don’t drink anymore and she’s…,” Dave says, waving a hand in my general direction.

Did my husband just tell this child psychiatrist that I’m a lush with a vague hand gesture?

My mouth hung open in astonishment. “Yeah, well a glass of wine at night…but JESUS, my parents… whoooo wheeee!”  (Sorry, parents but Dave started it and I needed to deflect so I made it appear that you are the ones who are complete lushes. I assume that one day, my children will throw me under the bus in a similar manner. I hope you understand. Then end.)

That's my wine...served up by my husband.

Minutes later, we were asked to fill out a form, the last two pages of which were very important. I checked off two pages of questions like, does your child pick his nose? Dude, he’s seven. Until last year, there was a boogar wall behind the bunk bed.

Does your child use tobacco? Dude, again… he’s seven.

But seriously.

I was trying to be serious.

You see, Dave and I have a habit of being serious, on our A-game, but little snips of our humor can’t help but squeak out. It’s like needing to fart to relieve some pressure. We can’t stop ourselves. For instance, when asked if Joe had ever been subjected to physical violence we adamantly replied no then Dave added, “Nothing abnormal…you know, ‘go to your room’ and
maybe some yelling…”

“Yeah, we try to hold off on electric shock and cattle prods unless things get really crazy,” I laughed. We all laughed. Then the shrink abruptly stopped laughing again and made a note in his file.

Why do these idiotic statements flow from my mouth like verbal vomit? I mean, really. School psychiatrists don’t normally appreciate the dry and twisted humor of parents attempting to help their child through the social minefield that is first grade. Do they?

Now, by the end of the meeting, Gwen and Kate were losing it. Did I mention that our sitter wasn’t available?

Actually, allow me to give credit where credit is due. Those two little girls sat quietly and patiently for an hour. They colored and played a game on the laptop. They were angels.

Yet, as is typical, in the last five minutes of conference room jail Kate lost her mind.

While we wrapped things up and said things like thank you and we’ll be in touch and yadda yadda…I tried to quiet Kate’s incessant repetitive whiny babbling question with an ill-timed, “Yes, sure Katie.” I really had no idea what she’d asked me. I fell prey to the mother of mothering mistakes – the inattentive, “Yes, honey” response. The one that comes out of our mouths while  we’re trying to engage in a serious discussion with someone like the cops or school shrinks.

We were still wrapping it up with the good doctor and, while Dave chatted with him, I turned to Kate and cheerfully asked, “So what should we do now?”


Between cattle prods, nose picking and knuckleheads, I’m pretty sure the shrink was left wondering what in the hell goes on at our house.

The good news? The authorities have not shown up.


How To Compose Eye-Catching Notes

Joe loves words as much as I do. His spelling has really taken off and nearly matches his highly advanced vocabulary. Is there a parent in the world that isn’t thrilled when their 7 year old starts rattling off road signs and calling out the names of random road-side businesses? Why, just last Sunday we were driving through a town here in Maine where someone painted a house purple. I suppose it was painted with the intent of making it eye-catching or, the painter hoped to attract that segment of society that thoroughly enjoys the color purple. (Not the book, silly! The color.) That tiny purple house-turned-business certainly caught Joe’s eye!

“Hey! There’s a toy store for adults back there!”

“Huh…I guess we missed that, buddy.”

Other than swelling with pride upon discovering my son’s ability to locate sex-toy shops…“What’s linger-eee anyway?”  …I love finding his carefully composed notes tucked around the house. Phonetics clearly work for him.

I give him a big thumbs up for style. The bright orange PIS(S) juxtaposed with that faintly penciled ELMO on a torn scrap of paper is a terrific example of recycling, fine motor skills and spelling practice. It’s hard to squeeze PISS into a tiny triangular corner of scrap paper, y’all!

Maybe he gets his developing knack for composing eye-catching notes from me. I’ve found that notes are rarely ignored when written on things that one might not commonly associate with “list” material. For example, leftover quesadillas from Kate’s lunch at Chili’s make wonderful writing surfaces. Not only did I recycle, but that note was one hell of an attention grabber! Dave didn’t forget a single thing on the list!


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And….He Was Punched.

When Joe was just two months old, I sat in one of our living room chairs and cradled him on my chest. I relished the sensation of his warm, fuzzy wobbling head brushing against my cheek. His infant squeaks and gurgles softly touched my ears. His breath warmed my neck as he grew tired and succumbed to a nap in my arms. Babies sleep so deeply and that sunny afternoon, mine slept soundly enough that the short, quick rhythm of his breath lulled me into a state of bliss. I slowly pulled him from my shoulder to lay him on my lap. It was there that Dave entered to find me sobbing over the tiny, perfect body that was my newborn son.

David’s face registered a look of concern, “What’s wrong?” Struggling against my tears, I attempted to speak but my words were choked back by a spasm of fresh sobbing. He was across the room in three quick strides, his eyes zeroing in on the baby sleeping on my legs. He knelt at the side of my chair and put his big hand on Joe’s tiny middle, as if to make sure that he was still breathing. David looked into my eyes and took my hand, “What’s the matter?”

I wiped the fat, wet tears that were rolling down my checks and took a deep breath. I needed that air to speak without the interruption of hysterics. “Someday, someone is going to punch him”, I said as I exhaled. Immediately, I was overtaken with a fresh set of tears and squeaky crying. The thought of some boy hurting my perfect, tiny child was unbearable. To imagine that one day, someone might harm him was too much. David wanted to smile; I could see it glinting in his eyes, struggling to spread to his mouth. Instead, he hugged me and stroked our baby’s round, bald head. Together we watched him sleep.