Thursday, 28 May 2015

Speak Softly and Carry a Shih-Tzu

There is a little boy who lives around the block from us and plays with the boy next door on a regular basis.  For some reason this little boy doesn't seem to like Frack very much.

Over the last year I have overheard this kid call Frack names and try to instigate games where they get to target Frack and pick on him.  One day in the winter Frack came home from school to tell me that this kid, oh let's call him Dennis, got a couple of kids to make "snow rocks" (basically rocks rolled up in snow so that they look like snowballs but have a rock hard center) and chase Frack around throwing them at him.  One of the "snow rocks" got him in the face.

I mostly let the school handle the incident although I did talk to the parents of the boy next door.  That boy is Frack's best friend and I didn't think he really meant to hurt Frack, but got caught up in the whole peer pressure thing.  He's really a nice boy with nice parents who have been good neighbours to us for about 12 years now.

I'm not exactly sure what Dennis' problem is.  I've met his mother and she seems very nice.  Frack has never done anything to him but for some reason this kid likes picking on him.

About two weeks ago I came home from work to hear Frick tell me that this Dennis kid decided to punch Frack in the stomach.  I asked him why that happened and he said he didn't know he just put a stop to it.  I marched right next door in the hopes that my neighbours had Dennis' parents' phone number.

They did.

I got Dennis' father on the phone.

"Hi, I'm so sorry to bother but I'm Frack's mum?  He's the little boy who lives next door to (name redacted because I don't feel like dreaming up another fake name)?  Anyway, I just thought you would want to know that today your son punched my son in the stomach and that to be honest he's kind of been picking on my son for a while now.  I'm sure I'm only getting one side of the story but from one parent to another I know I would want to know if my kid had hit anybody, so I thought I'd just give you this call."

He didn't seem very impressed by the information I had just given him.  And by this I mean not that he was pissed at his kid's behaviour, but that he didn't seem to be bothered very much by the fact that his kid punched my son.

"Oh.  Okay.  Thanks for letting us know."

And that was it.  He didn't ask if Frack was okay.  He never apologized for his son's behaviour.  He didn't even throw in a standard "I'll be giving him a good talking to."  Nothing.  I was beginning to wonder if I hadn't over-reacted.  But then I remembered all the times I heard this kid cry out "Let's get Frack!" and "Frack's a little baby!" and I wondered why I hadn't said something sooner.

Anyway, who knows?  Maybe I caught the guy in a bad moment.  Maybe he's just socially awkward.  I had done my job and let him know what his kid was up to.  The rest was his business.  I just knew I'd be keeping a closer eye on the boys when Dennis was around.

 So yesterday when Dennis was next door playing with (name redacted) and Frack decided to join them I made a point of working in the garden so I could watch them.

Isn't he just the cutest little muppet-dog you ever did see?
When I'm out in the garden I like to have the dog with me off leash, especially if the boys are playing because the dog loves running around and playing with them.

Fry absolutely adores children.  He knows they are a source of attention and cuddles and food.  All the kids in the neighbourhood know and love Fry.

It's kind of a fun experience taking my dog for a walk and having complete strangers know my dog's name.  Or when I take Fry with us for the walk to school and groups of school children come running to give Fry a pet.  In fact the morning walk to school is Fry's favourite time of day!

So it kind of came as a shock to me when I heard Dennis suddenly scream:

"GET THAT DOG AWAY FROM MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I looked up to see what all the fuss was about and I saw Dennis running and screaming for his life while Fry, not realizing the kid was terrified, just chased after him thinking it was a great game.

Then all hell broke loose.

Dennis ran even faster and screamed even louder.  This seemed like awesome great fun to Fry who responded by barking and speeding up.  Me and the Dad of the neighbour kid were begging Dennis to just calm down and stop running ("You're only making him want to chase you!  He's a nice doggy!  It's okay!  He won't hurt you!"), all the while desperately trying to catch the dog who was clearly having the time of his life.

Even after I finally caught the dog, Dennis was inconsolable.  He would not calm down until I finally got Fry into the house.

Now, I never dreamed this kid was afraid of dogs.  He lives with one of the biggest standard poodles I have ever seen.  And he has played around our yard with Fry outside before.  I don't ever recall seeing him be uncomfortable around dogs before.  And I would never, ever want to terrorize a child to this level on purpose....

But....

Is it terrible that I kind of found the incident just a teensy, weensy bit amusing?  Am I a horrible person for hoping that Dennis might think twice before throwing snow rocks and punches at my kid knowing that my kid has Big Bad Fry to protect him?

I am probably going to hell, aren't I?

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

More Passive Aggressive Agenda War: Battle of the Reading Log

As some of you may know I have recently been doing a sort of passive aggressive agenda war with Frack's teacher.

Our last bout went rather well.  Better than I expected, actually.  In fact, she was suspiciously cool about it given the tone of the note I had sent her.  She basically said "No problem!  That's certainly understandable!  And also I want to meet with you to discuss Frack's progress."

What.  The.  Fuck.

Whyyyyyyyy??????????????

Because at that point I had already met with her three times and had also just received a report card whose purpose is to, you know, discuss his progress.  I had just informed her that I have a new job and work long hours which was why Frack's reading log wasn't being signed every day.  And her response is to suggest using up more of my free time having a carbon copy of every meeting we have ever had?

Because you know for damned sure she isn't going to bring up anything that's really bothering her.

And that is exactly what happened.  I'd hoped maybe she had something new to add.  I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt.  I thought, "Maybe she was gong to ask me to meet before I sent her that note.  Maybe she has real concerns to talk about.  Maybe this will be a productive and worthwhile parent teacher meeting."

NOPE!

We spent a half hour having the same conversation in person that we have always had.

Her:  I have concerns about Frack's participation in class.  Also he is falling behind in reading.  And he doesn't seem to understand how to follow instructions

Me: Yeah, Frack is incredibly shy, especially if he gets upset or is put on the spot.  Also he was very speech delayed and often has trouble processing language.  He really needs simple instructions given to him one step at a time.  And if he is upset or stressed out his understanding of any language completely shuts down.

Her:  I don't think he's shy.  He's always acting too silly.

Me:  Well he is a seven year old boy.

Her:  He needs to be at level 7 in reading by the end of the year.  He is in level 4 right now.

Me: We're working on it.

At this moment in time I have officially met with Frack's teacher four times.  FOUR TIMES!!!  Just how much of a problem is this kid?  Frack is one of the easiest to deal with children I have ever encountered.  My older son has ADHD which comes with a host of actual behavioural problems and I have never had to meet with his teachers this often in one year!

Well now this new, latest note takes the cake.

"Frack has just progressed to level 5 in reading!  But he is having difficulty with the words.  I would really like to meet with you to discuss his progress."

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???

My kid makes PROGRESS and you need to meet with me about it?  What kind of bullshit hand-holding do you need from me, lady?  What could you possible have to say to me that you didn't say when we met TWO WEEKS AGO?

And REALLY, I am somewhat amazed at her concerns for Frack's literacy.  Frack can read and write.  He reads and writes at home all day long because he thinks it's fun.  He likes to write his own story books.  Just what exactly are her standards????

Well, ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to show you a sample of level 5 reading for the first grade.

That is quite a collection of 50¢ words for Grade 1

If that is level 5 reading then what the hell are they reading for level 7?  This teacher would have me believe that Frack will grow up to be an illiterate hobo when back in my day the most challenging thing I had to read at the tender age of seven was "Look Dad!  A jet! A jet!  A jet!"  (Thank you, Mr. Mugs reading series!)

Personally, I believe that if you are assigning a child homework that they cannot do without help then you have no business assigning that homework.  Children should be able to do their homework on their own with maybe just a little guidance and advice from parents.  Furthermore, there just shouldn't be any homework for first graders, period.

This reading log business is effectively killing Frack's passion for words.  He struggled though this page with tears of frustration in his eyes.  At which point I told him he didn't have to read it anymore.  His relief was palpable.

Not the work of a child with reading problems.

I don't think I should be upset, or meeting with teachers, because my seven year old is having difficulty reading in another language at what appears to be a third grade level.

I informed Mme. That there just isn't any convenient time I could name to meet with her because of my job.  She said we could even talk over the phone if that helped and just to name a time.

I have decided to simply never name that time.

She has had enough of my free time as it is.  Five meetings?  No, thank you very much.  To continue to ask for my free time when there isn't any real problem and I have recently communicated that I have so little free time I can barely read with my child on a daily basis just seems like she is trying to punish me for thwarting her on this stupid agenda signing.

And so, I shall sit and do nothing.

Your move, Mme.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Passive Aggressive Agenda War Continues...


So a while ago I blogged about Frack's teacher wanting me to  sign his agenda every day (whether there was a note from her in there or not) and her passive aggressive way of going about communicating this desire to me.

I continued not signing blank spots and she became more persistent with her circles.  So much so, that Frack started to believe that she wanted him to be drawing circles in his agenda every day.

Those circles on the right are Frack's.  He turned out to be a more consistent circle drawer than Mme.

One day Frack came home from school and told me he was afraid to go to school the next day.  When Frack is upset he doesn't communicate very well so it was difficult to understand him.  But he did say that Mme was going to show the principal his agenda and for some reason he thought this meant he was getting kicked out of first grade.

I believe his childish brain dreamed up the part about getting kicked out of first grade but I also believe she mentioned showing the agenda to the principal and I was pretty pissed off that it was now affecting Frack.

I told Frack that I would go right into the school office with him the next day and sort it all out.  The secretaries at Frack's school are awesome.  They are sweet and friendly and genuinely love all the children there.  They will tell you how awesome they think your kid is every time you visit and I fucking love them.  So when I brought Frack in and they saw how upset he was they got right to fussing over him and reassuring him that everything was fine, which brought a big smile to his face.

I told the secretaries what Frack told me and they said they would "have a talk with Mme."  After that everything was fine for a while.  She continued to draw her circles and I continued to ignore them and Frack continued to be a happy first grader.

Then finally, she put it in writing.  On March 3 she wrote:  "Please sign every day."  On that particular day I was in the middle of my work week and pretty tired.  I had been waiting for her to specifically request this behaviour and my intention was to write her a letter explaining myself.  But at this time I was tired and not in the best of moods.  I felt it was prudent to just sign the note like I sign all of her notes and then continue to ignore the empty spots, rather than go through the mental effort of writing a well worded missive.

The funny thing is we have met in person twice since all of this began (the second time was about a week after she wrote this note) and she never mentioned it.  I was all prepared for her to say, "Oh by the way, I really want you to sign this agenda every single day no matter what, even if I can't be bothered to write something in it myself."  Then I could explain myself to her in person.  But I certainly wasn't going to bring it up if she wasn't.

Well I guess she finally snapped because when I got home from work yesterday there was a message on my phone.  Ostensibly she was calling because I haven't signed his reading log since last Friday for various reasons which I will soon mention.  But the real reason, which was the bulk of the message, was to stress how much she wanted me to sign the agenda every day no matter what.  "It's the only way I know you are looking at it every day"

Well if you don't write in it every day, how do I know you are looking at it?  Oh right.  Circles.

Anyhoo, I clearly could not put off explaining this to her any longer.  And so I wrote the following letter:

Dear Mme,

Re: Frack's reading

If Frack has the same book two days in a row I don't make him read it both days and therefore do not sign the reading log.  In the past this has meant that the teacher simply forgot to give him a new one.

Also, I recently started a job with 10-12 hour workdays (plus commute).  On days that I work I may not have time to read with Frack and may not be signing the log either, although we will try.

Re: Signing the agenda

I have always promptly acknowledged any communication I have received from you.  I have not been, nor do I plan to be, in the habit of signing my name to blank spaces: something I have always been taught is a foolish thing to do.  I see no need to acknowledge a communication that did not happen.

I have been signing agendas for about nine years and this has never been a problem before.

                                                                                                Mrs.  Rotten

I just sent Frack to school with that letter and I'm not entirely sure what she will do about it.  But I'm definitely looking forward to finding out.  In the meantime there is one thing I do know for sure:

YOU SHALL NOT MAKE ME SIGN EMPTY SPACES IN THE AGENDA!!!

Monday, 5 January 2015

The Most Amazing Soup Recipe Ever! (So Good You Will Want to Eat Its Rotting Remains)

It is fucking cold out there so let's talk soup!

I'm a sucker for soup.  It is my ultimate comfort food and pretty much the only thing that makes Winter even remotely bearable.  Every once in a Winter I host a Soupfest where we all bring our favourite soup to sample and I make a ton of home made bread to go with it.  At the end we take home the leftovers.  It is not a competition and there is no prize for "Best Soup" but a winner is generally decided (usually unanimously) by which leftovers get fought over the most.  It is a highly prestigious honour.

And this year the prestige was mine!

I take this seriously because picking a favourite at the Soupfest is no simple task.  I only invite those whose culinary skills I deem worthy of my all-time favourite comfort food.  My people cook to impress.

Some of my guests were unable to make it so this year's menu had just three soups: my brother's Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup, Mummy Dearest's Tom Yum Gai, and my Roasted Garlic and Brie.

A first sign that my soup was becoming the favourite was the fact that everybody had a second helping.  Usually there is so much soup available you have to be smart and have only a small portion of each kind of soup.  After we were all too full to eat anymore the jokes started.  My family's favourite way to compliment your cooking is to pretend to steal it, fight over it or otherwise make threats of physical violence to anyone who dares get between them and your food creation.

My mother won the joke fight by insisting she help portion out the leftovers to the guests and then keeping all of my Garlic and Brie soup for herself.

A few weeks later at Christmas dinner my mother begged me to give her a copy of the recipe for her boss.  I thought this was going to turn into a typical story of my mother bragging about her kids (as Moms do) and her boss making a vague but polite remark like "That sounds lovely, I'll have to try it sometime."

I was wrong.

I will now tell the story to you as she told it to me:

"So I stole all the leftovers of your soup - 

(Me: I figured as much)

 - and it was wonderful!  Oh my God!  I heated some up and poured it over fried mushrooms.  Amazing!  I was saving the rest to pour over some pork chops but there was no room in my fridge - 

(My mother is a self-admitted food hoarder)

- so I put it out on my balcony.  Well last week I decided to clean out my balcony because there was so much stuff out there and I came across this pot.  I had forgotten I put it out there and I opened the lid to see what it was and it was nothing but fur.  There was hair growing in it all the way up to the lid.  And I knew what it was right away not because I remembered putting it out there, but because of the smell.

It smelled delicious.  Absolutely delicious.  Maybe even better than before!  I'm not kidding.  For one very short moment I even considered eating it.  What if this was some new kind of food?  People eat all kinds of mouldy, fermented stuff...

(At this point my mother goes off on a tangent, rhapsodizing about stinky cheese)

...anyway I was telling my boss about this and now she wants the recipe.  She figures it must be the world's best soup if I was tempted to eat it in that state."

With a story like that how could I not share this recipe?  So here it is, a soup so good my mother has a Homer Simpson-esque relationship with it.



Roasted Garlic and Brie Soup

4-5 large heads of garlic
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 cup butter
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
1/2 pound brie
1/2 cup cream
bouquet garni of thyme
salt and pepper 
lemon wedges
olive oil

Bake 4 heads of garlic by cutting off the tops, drizzling with olive oil and wrapping in foil (about an hour at 350).  In the meantime caramelize the onions in butter.  Add about 6-8 large cloves of garlic, finely minced, near the end.  Once everything is golden brown deglaze your pan with the white wine and then add the stock, bouquet garni, salt and pepper, and let simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour.

While the soup is simmering squeeze the roasted garlic out of their paper and into a blender.  Add some of the soup stock (being careful with the hot liquid!) and puree.  Add the puree back into the soup and let simmer a little longer.  When done remove the bouquet garni and puree in batches.  Once all the soup is pureed return to the pot and add the brie in chunks, stirring until all is melted.  Then remove from heat and stir in your cream.

Now if you taste the soup right now you will think, "This is perfect just the way it is.  I am not going to mess with such perfection by adding what is clearly an unnecessary lemon."

Go ahead and add that lemon anyway.  Trust.  Just a squeeze on top is all you'll need.

This is a soup that I originally intended to make with parmesan but I found a wheel of brie on sale for cheaper than parmesan so I went with that.  I don't know if the brie is an integral component of the strange fermentation process that resulted in my mother's furry balcony cheese but I'm sure the non-rotting version will still be pretty tasty if substituting parmesan.

This is a very rich and filling soup and will make a good meal just by itself, but is also pretty versatile as a sauce for fried mushrooms or pork chops.  Personally I might just make this again to see if I can recreate that mouth-watering penicillin, send it in to a lab and patent my new insane delicacy.  It can't possibly be any worse than Casu marzu.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Parent Teacher Interview: I Hope You Stay Silly

From Frack's book: Then they are all done fighting. They eat then watch TV.
The following is an excerpt from my meeting with Frack's teacher and some of the things that were going through my mind at the time:

"Frack seems to be doing much better since we last spoke, Mrs. Rotten."  says Madame.

"Oh good, I'm glad to hear that."  I say.

"Yes, he is learning that he isn't getting anywhere with his silliness.  I refuse to give him any attention for that."

"I see."

When Frack was about three years old he started wearing super hero capes and bright yellow rubber boots everywhere.  He wouldn't go anywhere without them: bus rides, grocery store, bank.  We used to hide the rubber boots on him because they made his feet so stinky.  We had to draw the line and not let him wear the capes to school because his teacher said they were too distracting.

"He also seems to be letting go of his need to always have a smart answer."

"Smart answer?  As in 'sarcastic'?"

"Something like that.  It's like he's looking for attention by saying silly things."

"Like what?"

"Well when we had our Roots of Empathy volunteer, she asked the children 'What might be a nice thing to do with a baby?' And Frack answered, 'Put it on a leash and take it for a walk.' "

(Snert.) "Oh dear." (I purse my lips together to keep my face muscles from smiling.)

"It was rather shocking."

"I see."

Title: A Guy That's Farting on Another Guy's Face

"You should know, Mrs. Rotten, that I don't tolerate any silliness in my classroom."

"Of course."

"Yellow and Brown Man makes everything yellow and brown."
"I have had a very difficult time with this particular class.  They have no idea of respect.  I cannot tell you how upsetting it is to have the gym teacher come to me, for the first time ever, to say 'I can see how you're going to have your hands full with this lot.'" (She looks at me significantly)

"That must have been very difficult for you."

"It was."

Frack got a note home a few weeks ago, informing me that he had been "disrespectful" in class.  I was actually really proud of him because it was literally the first thing he said to me when he got home from school.  He told me before I had to find the note in his agenda when usually he would try to hide it from me.  After much questioning, it turns out all he did was "make a funny noise" while sitting down.  I can see how that is silly but disrespectful?

"Speaking of 'respect', you wrote me a note a little while ago about Frack being disrespectful in class.  What was that about?  I'm not sure I got all the information from him."

"Oh, I don't know.  I wasn't there.  I was just letting you know what the librarian told me."

"Okay.  I tried telling him not to do whatever it was he was doing but it would have been better if I had more information."

"I'm sorry about that.  But as I said, Frack is making excellent progress.  He now understands that there is no place for his antics in my classroom.  He's much better at staying at his desk and isn't the whirling dervish he used to be.  He's doing very good work and he no longer says he can't understand me.

"Well that's good to hear."

Future Frack is forming a badass fighting team for Now Frack.  They correspond via snail mail.

Frack is very proud of his My Little Pony Collection and likes to show them off to visitors.

Frack adores his baby cousin, and all babies for that matter.  He touches her cheek and tells me, "Babies are for loving."

Frack has been "in love" with the same little girl for over a year.  He writes "Frack + Z" on just about every available surface

Frack is obsessed with writing books.  He is constantly begging for paper and asking how to spell things.

Is it bad that I don't want her to tame him?  Is it bad that I want him to stay silly?

I hope you never change, Baby Boy.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Passive Aggressive Agenda War

So Frack has this agenda thing that I'm supposed to look at every day.  I am no stranger to the agenda.  The agenda has been the bane of my existence since Frick was in 1st grade 7 years ago.  I know what is expected with the agenda.

I use it to communicate with the teacher and the teacher uses it to communicate with me.  I look at it every day.  Usually the deal with the agenda is that if the teacher sends me a note I initial it or if I send her a note she initials it and then we know that the other person has read and acknowledged the note.  Pretty simple, right?

This year is turning out to be a little different.

About a month ago I began to notice that every once in a while the teacher would put a circle on a calendar day that had already passed and had nothing written on it.  Beside the big circle was the word "sign" written in cursive.  I was like, WTF?  What does she want me to sign?  There's nothing there.  And then I'd sign it feeling kind of like an idiot.

Then last week I noticed that she had circled every single day that I had not signed the page (because there was nothing written there to acknowledge) each circle accompanied by the word "sign" and suddenly realized, "Oh, she wants me to sign this thing every day.  No matter what."

You see it was her complete lack of ever asking me to do this combined with her inconsistent yet passive aggressive circles that had confused me.

My first thought was, "Oh, I better get to signing this stupid thing every day then."

But my second, less mature, thought was, "But what if I don't?  She can't make me.  Why should I have to sign it every day if she doesn't have to write a note in it every day?"

I can be pretty immature sometimes.

Ordinarily I would do whatever little thing that would please the teacher just to please her.  Over the years I have signed all the forms in triplicate and then signed new ones just for the hell of it.  I have donated countless boxes of Kleenex.  I have gone out to the store to buy the specific food bank item I was asked for (after they turned down the many food items I already had in my pantry....why not take it all?  Sheesh.)  I have done just about every little weirdly unreasonable thing that has been asked of me but I WILL NOT DO THIS.

Mostly because I just don't want to and there's no good reason for it and there are no bad consequences if I don't and because I do not take well to bullshit passive aggression.

And so I have decided to take this petty little stand about the silliness of acknowledging a blank page with my signature after I've shown myself to be communicative and responsive .  It's a stupid thing to do, I know, but I also don't care.  Because if it really means that much to her a simple and direct communication about her expectations (like an adult) would have done so much more for her than this silly, passive aggressive circle making.

Because when it comes to passive aggression, I can passive aggressive circles around your passive aggressive circles.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

My Son Doesn't Understand Me!

I am having a bad Mom day.

I've been trying to keep my head up for a little too long and this morning I just crashed, so I need to vent a little.

My son doesn't understand me, or anyone else for that matter.  At least that's how it feels right now.

Last night I had a meeting with Frack's teacher.  He doesn't understand her.  Which isn't all that surprising since she only speaks French to him.

After much debate and discussing it with Frack's teachers my husband and I decided to enroll Frack in French Immersion.  We are fully prepared to take him out at any time.  As you may already know Frack was speech delayed and had only graduated from his speech therapy about a year ago.  I have a certificate and everything: "Congratulations!  Frack is considered to be at his age level for language development."

But the thing is Frack has always had difficulty with abstract language concepts.  He can point to and name any object you like, count to any number, recite whatever you want him to recite.  But he will confuse "on" with "under" or "beside".  He gets confused trying to sort out the difference between "more than" and "less than".  He has a hard time following instructions and when he feels confused or frustrated he shuts right down and will only communicate the things he knows.  Or he will only agree with and repeat anything you say because he thinks that is the right answer and he doesn't know what else to do.

He is often afraid to admit that he doesn't understand you because he thinks it's "wrong".  He can't stand being wrong.  Trying to get information out of him is crazy-making.  You have a word limit.  After speaking about thirty or so words at him he just starts giving you answers he thinks you want because he no longer understands you, if he ever did in the first place.  On top of that he might change his answers several times during the conversation, trying to give you what he thinks you want.

The devil of all this is, like most small children, he is also capable of very shrewd understanding.  He often says things that let me know he understands far more than I give him credit for.  If he is relaxed and happy his comprehension seems to be very good, if limited from time to time.

I had to explain all of this to Frack's teacher last night.  And, yet again, I found myself in the position of having to apologize to a professional educator for having to have my son in their class.

Because Frack is not adjusting to grade 1 well at all.  It's hard to be at his desk all day.  The work is hard for him because he just does not understand what is expected of him.  So he gets frustrated, shuts down, and refuses to participate or put any effort forth.  And yesterday, he took things to a whole new level by angrily defacing his school work and being rude and disrespectful to his teacher.

At first I really tried to keep myself up.  Hey, at least I have a lot of practice dealing with frustrated teachers, right?  I guess we'll just have to come up with some strategies to help Frack.  Sure, we can do this!

But you know what?  I'm just so fucking tired right now.  I had a particularly bad weekend at work, but I stayed positive to help out my team.  My husband is out of town for work, so I'm missing my partner to hear me cry and rage and vent, and then help me come up with solutions.  I had to spend a lot of time on the phone with my mother in-law, who had been watching the kids for me while I was at work.  My older son, who I had hoped would know better, to whom I had promised very hefty bribes for good behaviour, was out of control for almost the whole time he was with her.  Consequently I spent a good part of my afternoon contacting his two social workers and pediatrician.

This meeting was the last straw.  I felt like I was being told, "Congratulations Mrs. Rotten, you've got another academic career full of parent-teacher meetings and disciplinary bullshit stretching out ahead of you!"

And even though I started off trying to be positive about it, my attitude deteriorated as I watched Frack spend his night moping and sullenly punishing himself.  He spent a good two hours sitting in the time-out spot even though I kept telling him I wasn't mad and he didn't have to sit there.  I tried to talk to him about it but I hit my thirty-word mark and watched him turn into an uncomprehending robot in front of me.  He got angry at me during cuddle time because he had asked me a question and could not understand that I was answering it, so he kept asking it over and over.

And all I could think was, "Why can't I talk to my son?  He's done with speech therapy, it's not supposed to be this way!"

And then this morning, he didn't seem to understand anything I was saying to him and I had a bad moment and I yelled at him.  And watching him stand there, heroically trying not to cry, I broke down.  I decided to keep him home from school for today, and I spent about ten minutes in our basement, selfishly sobbing my heart out.

Because I know I'm supposed to be stronger than this.  I know I'm supposed to be grateful for my son the way he is: healthy, strong and wonderful.  But right now I just need a little moment to wallow in self-pity.  Just five more minutes or so, please.  I think if I can have that I'll be able splash a little cold water on my face and get back to the business of figuring out what our next step is going to be.