Power and Responsibility

A long time ago, I (gently) crashed a car. My sister Tammy was driving me home from college, and she stopped at a gas station to get a drink. She left the car running, and I waited in the passenger seat. After several minutes, since the car was pretty low on gas, I decided that I should turn off the car. I carefully turned the key, and the car smoothly, gracefully, began to roll backwards—right out of the parking lot, across the street, and into a stop sign. As the car drove itself, drunken teens in the parking lot whooped and laughed as I looked frantically for a STOP button. No such luck!

The police came, heard my terrified explanation, pushed the stop sign back into place, and left. Tammy was pretty irritated with me, but the car was unhurt, so we just went home.

Nine days ago, I got my driver’s license.

It would be a bit of a stretch to say that I have mastered driving a stick shift, but I have been sent on errands and returned triumphant; when Mr. Book comes to visit in October, although he thinks my father will be picking him up from the airport, in fact the boys and I will surprise him there. I haven’t taken the boys on any real adventures yet (although Joey did come with me to buy a pie for his granddad), but that is so possible now. Like, right now, I could stop writing this blog post and go drive a car. I wonder if this is how gun owners feel (only, uh, just the empowerment, minus the violence).

Forward Momentum

 So: Nora did send the pictures, and late as they were, it was good to get them. She then kept our Skype date on Sunday morning—and halfway through it, Cricket said “I’m going to see you guys soon!”

Nora responded with “Yeah, in two months! Less than two months, now.” So I guess they’re seriously planning on coming. I mean, they wouldn’t tell Cricket about it if it wasn’t going to happen—right? When Cricket said that he’d see us, I got really upset—upset isn’t quite the right word. There is probably a German word that means worried and excited and prepared to be disappointed and sad about the past and glad at the same time.

Today, then, I sent Nora a message:

Hi Nora!

 So the last time Joey and Cricket were together, it was pretty rough; this time, I would like for Joey’s behavioral therapist to be there to help him when the boys first meet up. She’d just hang out for a couple of hours and assist Joey. It is obviously really early to have concrete plans yet, but I’d need to get her a time within the next couple of weeks: Are you guys able to make a plan with us as to when and where we’ll first meet up?

 I hope you and Cricket are doing well. It was great to see you guys on Sunday! The only real news here is that I got my driver’s license on Monday. =) Joey has discovered the joys of (toe)nail polish, and he calls Kit “bey bey”; Kit calls Joey “budda.”

 Best,

Susie

See, now I’m starting to plan. If they’re really coming, then I want to do a good job; I hope that message doesn’t come across as too pushy or blunt (too late now!), but after talking with Joey’s behavioral therapist, I am pretty convinced that having her with him would help. At last year’s visit, part of the problem was definitely Cricket: he bullied and hit Joey. But Joey didn’t have the skills to deal with Cricket appropriately, and still doesn’t, and while mostly it is my job to help him, since I will already be overwhelmed and didn’t do a stellar job last time. . . .

The idea occurred to me after this behavioral therapist, Miss Krista, talked about having taken one of her clients to the movies on a Saturday. This is something that they do, as I was told in my ABA orientation; they aren’t babysitters, and parents need to be present and involved, but they can help facilitate special events sometimes. And this is a pretty fraught, extremely stressful event. Of course, if this works out, I will have to tell Krista ahead of time exactly who our visitors are—I am more or less entirely closeted in my day-to-day life—as in my initial request, I just described them as friends with a small child whose visits are tense and difficult. But that would be totally worth it if it would help my Joey Bean. I keep remembering him at the last visit, crying whenever he could see Cricket, and finally searching the house to make sure that he was gone. I can’t let it be that bad again.

That Didn’t Take Long

Well, one of the things that Nora outlined as part of the new agreement is that instead of sending hard copies of pictures in May and December—their original choice—they will send them in June and December every year. June 29, she sent me a message saying that Okay, not so much with the June. But July! For sure! So they didn’t even make it a month without breaking the new terms that they chose. I am frustrated, but will wait to see whether they keep the Skype date this month and the visit dates they chose in September. And if they don’t make the visit—whether they want to reschedule or blow it off entirely—then I’ll tell them to pick new dates with Mr. Book and go to the mostly shut down adoption plan I outlined in June.

Things feel really hard right now. Some of that is that I have really been working at learning to drive; my parents gifted me with driving lessons! And that’s been very helpful, and they are over now, my driving test is scheduled for later this month, and I can basically drive. Of course, the driving school will only teach you to drive an automatic and my car is a manual, but on Sunday I (awkwardly, with a couple of stalls) drove my sister and her friend to the market and back. I am shockingly better in an automatic, and will be taking my test in one, thank goodness. But I find driving really stressful and mildly awful, and I keep having to do it.

What else is hard? This is shaping up into a whiny post, I see. I’ve gotten a little freelance work, which is awesome—Joey’s OT thinks that we should put him in gymnastics, and the city rec gymnastics classes might be possible if I can make a little money—but I can’t work while the kids are awake, and at least one of them is awake from 5:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. I’m tired all the time, which is just part of parenting little kids, but still lousy. And—I’m lonely. I’ve met some nice moms in town, although I don’t know really how to get past the perfectly nice playdates stage to the bosom companions part. Time. And I miss my husband.

But there are also good things happening. Joey is continuing to make real and noticeable progress; Kit has turned into a funny, sweet little toddler who is hell-bent on naughtiness. He talks, he claps, he waves, he points; after seeing me knit, he has tried it himself. Joey is pretty happy, too, I think. He is using his greater language skills to test the limits; almost every day, we have cereal for breakfast. But the other day, I had a bagel, and this apparently communicated to Joey that all bets were off, and he tried to get not-cereal for breakfast: “Juice! Crackers! Cookie!” Sorry, hombre. All of which is just to say that even when I’m overwhelmed, the boys are pretty great.