Yesterday morning I stayed home from work and took my kindergartener to the doctor. He’d had a sore throat for two days and it turned out to be strep throat.
We spent two hours waiting to be seen in Pediatric Associates. The waiting room was full when we got there. It emptied out twice before a nurse took pity on us, swabbed his throat (never have seen that look on his face before) and off we went to the pharmacy for the penicillin.
The trouble was, we arrived at the pharmacy and they didn’t have the electronic order in yet. It’s a half hour drive from the doctor to the pharmacy, and of course electronic prescriptions are supposed to be instantaneous. Aren’t they?
So once again call me crazy but like when I tell the kids to learn how to handwrite instead of type because one day they may find themselves in the forest needing to carve something out on a tree when the apocalypse comes, I was really wishing I had a handwritten prescription in my pocket at that moment.
Ironically, I did. They gave me one for steroids “just in case” but they electronically transmitted the one I really needed.
You know me. I had words with the pharmacist and explained how IT WAS CRITICAL that I got the meds into the child immediately. She explained that she had multiple feeds coming in and had to go through 20 electronic orders “by hand” to find the one for Barrett. In the end, it didn’t take the warned additional hour, it took about 10 minutes, because she is nice (no matter what the Walgreens policy and procedures) and maybe she had sympathy for the little guy, who looked terrible.
Here’s how it had gone for him. He’d gotten a bad knee injury at school, which got stuck to the giant band-aid. His mother did not follow her first instinct to soak it off of him in the bathtub, and instead ripped it off…and took the scab right along with it. That had to be my worst parenting moment ever watching the blood run down his leg. He limped and screamed and cried for half an hour and I swear he lost trust, too.
This is my wild child. He complains about nothing. No injury bothers him. He once broke his arm falling down the staircase on the new bunk beds and barely cried. So I felt terrible about the knee and I felt worse when he developed strep two days later and as we were leaving for the doctor he was screaming,”I CAN’T BREATHE! I CAN’T BREATHE!” We walked around with hand towels so he could spit in them because his throat hurt so much he wouldn’t swallow.
Then the three-hour odyssey to get him seen and the right medicine in hand. So by the time I hit the pharmacy, I was pretty desperate.
Add to this the spell of despair I’d been walking around under over the weekend, all because of a birthday party.
I have another child who is brilliant and learning disabled. He attends a special needs classroom to get the disabilities under control and make him more functional. In that classroom there are all levels of children with Aspergers, which they say (I am not convinced) is a form of autism. There is no such thing here in this district where they address the gifted population and Aspergers/learning disabilities at the same time (but there SHOULD be).
So there were two birthday parties on Sunday. One got missed because of the strep. The other was like a comedy-tragedy.
The boy was turning 10 and he walked around with a constant smile on his face, thrilled beyond measure to be having a party. His mother is extremely nice but she does not speak much English and I do not speak much Spanish, so I ended up talking to his grandmother. She asked me how I was finding the school and the program. She said that her grandson had been falling behind academically before he got to this school, and now he was catching up. He was just starting to read Chapter Books. Naturally my son had come to the party with a book, because he self-taught reading at 4 and has read every book in the library (the entire library, not just the kids’ section) – he may have disabilities, but reading is his strength.
Kids with Aspergers have a hard time socially. They miss social cues and have to be taught how to read other people’s intentions, so they can respond appropriately. Anytime there is a birthday party, I take my kid. He’s gone to two parties this year for kids at his new school.
Both times, only two kids showed up – mine, and the other kid.
Why wouldn’t parents make certain that their kid goes to every social occasion when the thing they need most is opportunities to be social?
I don’t know what’s really going on at that school, and I don’t really know what the dynamics of the classroom are. Just as I was starting to get worried about the peer interaction my kid doesn’t have academically in the classroom, the birthday child walked up to me and asked,”Why doesn’t your son eat breakfast at the school?”
I explained that his brother goes to a different school, so he has to be dropped off first and then my other son gets dropped off at his school, so he is always going to be too late for breakfast at school.
He asked,”So when is he going to start coming to breakfast?”
I smiled ruefully at him and said,”Never. I’m sorry.”
He walked away with the same, unchanging smile on his face.
Then a boy walked in whose mother had to translate for him. She had to say,”Remember, this is how you have a conversation. If you tell her “Berenstain Bear” but she wasn’t at the store with us, how will she know what you mean? You have to explain.”
Actually, he didn’t. I already knew he had been to a store and fell in love with an “antique” pre-loved Berenstain stuffed animal but wasn’t allowed to take it home. But, I let her do her schtick because that is how he will (hopefully, maybe) learn to communicate.
She turned to me and said,”He has autism.” Like I did not know this.
This breaks my heart in ways that I cannot describe to you. As painful as it is sometimes to watch your child flounder, with a brilliant mind and amazing skills that few have, but also enormously challenged to handwrite and understand other people’s intentions, how different is it when your child will never get past a certain point? When he doesn’t have any gifts, just disabilities? When you know he will never be able to function on his own?
So after a day when I couldn’t go to work, when I had the privilege of spending half of the day getting the child straightened out at the doctor, and as I was picking up the other child at school, I was reminded that the next day was the big FCAT Writing day. This is Florida’s standardized test that they teach toward the entire year. It is the one FCAT that my son does not get a perfect score on like the Reading and the Math. On a scale of 1 to 6 my kid usually gets a 2 or a 3 and they have been pushing his behind to get him up to a 6. I don’t personally care what he gets on the FCAT, because that is what they use to grade the school, not my son, but it is very important to him, because of the way the schools rah-rah all year about it.
So I told him I hoped he wasn’t coming down with his brother’s strep. I thanked God that I have a job, and reminded myself that work would probably still be there in the morning, and if it wasn’t, we’d figure it out.
As the penicillin kicked in, the 6 year old started smiling and joking and acting much like his usual enthusiastic self. He’s been trying to learn the concept of the Knock Knock Joke, and what makes it funny. His jokes usually go like this:
Pizza Steve Who?
Pizza Steve Who?
Pizza Steve! (gales of laughter…who know why?)
Today it was Ketchup.
Except as I said it, I heard ” catch a poo” so I asked him,”Hey, why’d you tell me to catch a poo?”
Gales of laughter all the way home.
It is an amazing gift and privilege to be given children to raise. I’ll try not to forget it.