Sunday, October 12, 2008

Of memories and manatees: meandering miscellany

Well, we're two thirds of the way through a three day weekend, and I have lots of odds and ends rattling about in my brain, none of which in and of themselves feel worthy of an entire post. I shall, therefore, collect them all here in what is guaranteed to be a long-n-rambly entry. Without further ado, let the rambling commence!

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Kiddo fell the other morning, on our way to the bus stop. She was, as per usual, ignoring my repeated suggestions that she walk, not run, down the sidewalk and BAM, down she went, tearing a hole in her pants and skinning knees and palms. She was more upset by missing the bus and having to have Mommy drive her to school than she was upset about her injuries. (I was more upset about the ruining of an almost-new pair of khakis, myself.) To cheer her up, I told her the following story, something I'd forgotten about for years but that popped into my mind as I was comforting her and getting her cleaned up:

When I was in kindergarten through second grade, I walked to school along with a group of other children in the neighborhood. One day in mid-October when I was in first grade, my grandmother (who was staying with us as my parents were unavoidably out of town) decided she would drive us instead of having us walk. It was cold and rainy and we had school pictures, so we were all dressed up and looking spiffy. This was a treat regardless of the situation, so the six or seven of us kids gleefully crowded into her old, boat-like sedan. (I'm not sure what the car was - I'd have to ask my dad or my uncle. I just recall it was dark green, large, four door and had those fins on the tail lights that have always struck me as really cool. Remember, this was the mid-70s.) Two girls sat up front, leaving the other four or five of us plus my younger sister to jam into the back seat. This being back in the era before seat belt laws were mandatory and also due to the large number of grade schoolers wedged into the back, none of us were secured by any means other than by being squished in place by our companions. I was on the far right, up against the door. Nana pulled out of our driveway and headed through town to school. As she steered around curves or turned corners, the row of us in the back would sway against each other, and we exaggerated the amount of "tipping" as kids are wont to do in such cases. Well, a little more than halfway to school, we turned and everyone shoved over into me, and the next thing I knew, the door I was pressed up against opened up and I went tumbling out of the car! I landed face down in a drainage ditch full of sodden, muddy leaves at the side of the road. I scrambled up in time to see the door swing shut as Nana completed the turn and then kept on driving. Convinced that she would stop at any second and back up to retrieve me, I stayed put. I was unhurt, but my dress and tights were filthy and I was covered in bits of leaves from my hair on down to my shoes. I was amazed when Nana didn't stop or turn around to come back for me and instead drove on out of sight. I later learned that even though all the girls were screaming for Nana to stop, that I'd fallen out of the car, when she glanced in the rearview mirror, all she saw was that the door was closed and that there were a bunch of heads in her view. She was convinced that we were playing a trick on her and that I was just hiding. It wasn't until she pulled up at the school, several blocks later, that she realized I was not, in fact, still in the car. She dropped off the rest of the girls and circled back to find me, pissed off and shocked beyond tears to have been deserted as I was, standing on the side of the road. She collected me and brought me home to change, and then proceeded to add insult to injury by making me wear an outfit that was not the one my mother had carefully selected before her trip for class picture day, and one that I didn't even much like. Inexorable as my grandmother was, she didn't even have the good grace to either apologize or allow herself to be guilted into a trip to the 5 & 10 for consolation candy, either.

Kiddo was shocked by this story, mostly by the fact that none of us had seatbelts or were in booster seats like the first graders she knows use today. It was one of the first times that she ever truly seemed to get the concept of "back in the day" - to her the seventies are the equivalent of Little House on the Prairie to me, I guess!

We've been enjoying some serious Indian summer weather this weekend, so how did Kiddo and I take advantage of it today? By going to the movies, of course! (In my defense, we were outside for a good portion of the day yesterday and plan to be outside all day tomorrow as well, and she played in the back yard for a decent amount of time today too.) Hubby had some work to do (being in the financial services industry, needless to say, there is never an end to the work in these ridiculous and scary economic times), so I took Kiddo over to the local IMAX theater where the movie Dolphins and Whales 3D: Tribes of the Ocean is playing to give him some peace and quiet in which to concentrate on his work. I'd seen an ad for it in the paper earlier in the week, and Kiddo is all into 3D movies after our trip to Disney World, where we saw "the Donald Duck movie" and the Muppets 3D movie more than once, so I thought this would be a cool, albeit expensive, thing to check out. Turns out it was indeed cool - at times it seemed like the gigantic whales were coming right at us and we really got the feeling of being underwater with the various animals - and educational as well. The fact that stuck with Kiddo the most? Manatees, due to their diet consisting mainly of vegetation, are very flatulent creatures. Yes, we were treated to the sight of manatees farting (oh sorry, "tooting" in Kiddo parlance) underwater, in glorious, 3D technicolor. The gas bubbles - they're coming right at us! (And yes, Kiddo tried to pop the bubbles, as she also reached out to pet various dolphins and whales and she even squeaked back in "dolphin talk" to the pods on the screen a few times.)

Kiddo broke her glasses on Friday. I'm not sure when the actual breaking occurred, but while she was washing up before dinner, she looked down at her hands and - clink! - a lens popped out. The frame itself was broken, right at the temple, which is a first. I chose these specific frames for their super-bendy properties, and as we've been in to the optician's office about once a week since August when she got her glasses for adjustments, I think it was a good investment since this was the first actual break. Luckily for us, the frames are under warranty so replacing them will only cost us $5, and even luckier, the optician put Kiddo's lenses into one of the "demo" frames so she has glasses to wear in the interim. The loaner pair were the runner-up choice when Kiddo was picking out her frames; they're the same frames except in purple (hers are pink) and seeing them on her as we have since yesterday morning, I'm very happy we did choose the pink, as the purple are much more "HELLO! WE'RE HERE! ON KIDDO'S FACE! YOO-HOO!" than her regular frames. Once we find out if she will need glasses for the long term (we go back to the eye doc next month), I think I'll get a spare pair for a back-up just in case they can't do a loaner pair the next time her frames break. I remember all too well from my own childhood how often glasses break, so I'm sure there will be a next time!

I'm presently in reality TV heaven, with my three favorite reality shows all on right now. I am addicted to The Amazing Race (and seriously, are these teams the stupidest contestants ever on the current race? The mistakes they make, it's like they've never seen the show before - read the flippin' clues, folks, yeesh!), Project Runway (I'm totally rooting for Leanne and absolutely cannot stand Kenley) and America's Next Top Model (McKey is my favorite, though Marjorie and Elina are both possible contenders). I'd love to do The Amazing Race, but never, ever could. Number one, I'm not in nearly good enough shape; number two, I have that whole issue with heights which always is at least one of the Detours or Road Blocks; and number three - the big one - I couldn't bear to be away from Kiddo for a whole month (I don't think they allow families to join teams down in Sequesterville, so even if we were the first team eliminated, I still wouldn't see her for way too long). Maybe if they do another Family Edition someday, the three of us could compete together...

Just so you don't think my brain is entirely rotted by reality TV viewing, I've been reading, too - grown-up books, not just my beloved Entertainment Weekly and Ramona the Pest (Kiddo's developed a penchant for "chapter" books thanks to her kindergarten teacher reading them Junie B. Jones books at school). The book I'm reading right now is quite interesting - My Lobotomy: A Memoir. (The link takes you to an NPR story about the author.) As the title says, the book is the memoir of a man who had a lobotomy as a child, and as an adult, gained access to his medical records while on a quest to learn why he was lobotomized (there was no valid reason, his stepmother who hated him was the driving force behind the whole idea!) and how his father could have let it happen. It is hard to read in some places, but from the preface, I know there will be a good outcome at the end - as good an outcome as there can be for someone who had to endure such a horrible miscarriage of medicine and justice, so I'm going to finish it.

Last week, Kiddo went on her first kindergarten field trip, and I was one of the moms who chaperoned. (The other two chaperones are the class moms, and boy, was I bummed to learn that I'd missed out on the opportunity to be the class mom myself! I totally wanted to be the classroom parent - actually, I'd always dreamed that I would be the classroom parent when my children were in school, the way my mom was for me and for my sisters when we were little.) Anyhow, we were standing in the classroom while the kids were sitting at their tables before the field trip, and one of the other moms asked me which kid was mine. I pointed Kiddo out to her and she looked from Kiddo to me, then said "Oh yes, you two look like each other, I should've been able to figure it out." I responded "Well, it's actually purely coincidental that we resemble each other at all, because Kiddo was adopted." I didn't say this with any snark or tone, mind you, I said it easily with a smile on my face, but sure enough, the other mom looked quite discomfited by hearing this and began to stumble over herself in an attempt to correct what she perceived to be her faux pas. As I sincerely took no offense and didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable, I went on to say that I too was adopted, and growing up, I didn't in fact resemble my family - they're all tall, light haired, light eyed WASPy looking people, and I'm not particularly tall, and am dark haired and dark eyed. I also told her that Kiddo's birthmother and I have some resemblance to each other, and that even though Hubby and I were completely prepared for our child to not resemble either of us at all, by pure chance, we do "blend" as a family. I mean, no one has ever questioned whether she is our child or commented on Kiddo not looking like she "matches" us, anyhow... So, I tried to put her at ease, but I guess the larger world is still unused to the world of adoption and views it therefore as some Big Deal, so as soon as she could, she excused herself and went to the other side of the room, and then didn't really speak to me directly again the rest of the day.

Here's the thing: it isn't a Big Deal. I grew up with this, the "sticky issue" of genes and resemblance, and I know it can make people uncomfortable to discuss. But, what is the alternative? Should I just have nodded and changed the subject? Ignored the comment altogether? Lied? I don't think so. Throughout my life as an adoptee, I never avoided the subject when it came up, and I refuse to treat it like the elephant in the room it can otherwise become. So, since Kiddo was born, I've chosen to always take the honest route, even if it is the less comfortable route, and give credit where credit is due. (Kiddo certainly does NOT get her artistic abilities from me, for example, but from her birthfather, who is quite talented artistically. Likewise, her gorgeous brown eyes, while they may look similar to my own, come from her birthmother, who looked like a cross between Catherine Zeta-Jones and Valerie Bertinelli back when Kiddo was born.) I don't want Kiddo growing up thinking that there's anything wrong with her genes, wrong with her heritage. I guess I haven't figured out the proper amount of finesse yet, but I will continue to be open about giving credit where credit is due when it comes to Kiddo's biological family - they are the ones who created her as she is, after all.

Finally, thanks to everyone for your comments of support and encouragement with the ongoing struggle to ensure Kiddo's needs are being met per her IEP at school. The latest is that I've been assured that there will be a temporary sub who will be trained by Kiddo's occupational therapist in the classroom for the coming week to do her sensory diet, and then the permanent person is supposed to start next week. I've been asked to come to school next Monday morning to meet with the OT and the new aide to make sure everyone's on the same page about what needs to be done for her sensory diet. I didn't think it was so vague or unclear, what with it being spelled out step by step and having a checklist and all, but apparently the lack of compliance with the IEP is being chalked up to a "miscommunication issue" between me, the annoying parent, and the school/school district. I'm a little annoyed (as befits my title, right?) about the buck-passing and refusal to accept responsibility that is going on at their end. I'm frustrated because they really seem more concerned about not getting in trouble or taking the blame for the noncompliance, rather than being concerned about failing the children for whom they are responsible, which should be the priority, you know... it really isn't a miscommunication at all, but whatever - so long as Kiddo's needs are being met, that's all that matters. Right?

Okay, that's enough for now. I guess this was enough for a couple separate posts - hope your eyes aren't crossing with fatigue! I'll end by saying keep an eye out for my blog on Tuesday when I'll be taking part in something exciting that is happening over at the fantabulous SITS - it's going to be wild and even includes chance to win an autographed picture of George Clooney, be still, my beating heart!


My name is Andy. said...

Great updates!

We know the broken glasses saga well. Glad to hear you are only on your first breakage.

And as a fellow adoptee, I agree with full disclosure. I would have felt very weirded out if in that same situation my mom had not spoken up. Good job!

kwr221 said...

wow, that's a lot in one post!

too much for my brain to comment on before my second cup of coffee.

@ the adoption comment, not weird. if I were you, I would've said the same thing, if I were the one making the comment, it wouldn't have weirded me out or anything. It is what it is, and just as beautiful as birth. :-)

Ronnica said...

Don't be rubbing it in that you get a 3-day weekend and I don't!

I always was scared in situations like that that the door would fly open. I guess I had good reason!

I think this post might be 5x longer than the longest post I've ever posted...

I'm looking forward to the SITS day tomorrow, too. =)

Eudea-Mamia said...

My money is totally on Marjorie!

She's going to take the crown in redemption for the vote off of Shandi in Cycle 2. Complete miscarriage of justice.

Loved the '70s car story. So true. My brother and I used to love it when on road trips, my parents would put the seat down in the station wagon so that we could use our sleeping bags to slide from one side to the other as my father took corners really fast.

Ah, today's kids are so missing out with their fancy car seats and cushioned air bag systems.

For some reason, I totally pictured your grandmother doing the entire thing with a cigarette dangling from her lips.


Jen Sue Wild said...

Your blog is always a delight to read!! You always make me laugh. Thanks for that..

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Oh. My. Word. That car story with your nana just made my day. I thought that stuff only happened in movies!

The adoption thing, I know it seemed weird for you to experience that, but it is probably just because that mom is not familiar with adoption. Unfamiliar things always make people uncomfortable. You are blessed, in that you have experience with many situations that are unfamiliar to some people; like children with special needs and also adoption. You're right - she probably just didn't know what to say and felt uncomfortable. But I would say you handled it the best way. If she felt weird, that's her problem. But don't second-guess yourself.

momto1 said...

I made a similar "he is so much like Bob" comment to a friend who I hadn't realized had adopted their son. Their son was 5 or 6 at the time, and she decided to tell me at that point. I was stunned, because in physical features, they are much alike, but in mannerisms and speech patterns, he is like a little parrot! Just like his dad, Bob.

NJDecorator said...

OMG - I am a huge Amazing Race and Project Runway an. I even have my son and DH watching them - or we DVR and watch later.

I lok forward to reading more of your stories and getting to know you.