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Diary Rings

Can we just jump to January please? - 2014-11-14
A (don't kick the) Bucket List - 2014-10-28
Put THIS in your pipe and DON'T smoke it! - 2014-10-23
Max, Wolf, and the goats - 2014-10-15
Maloney for Congress - 2014-10-08

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12:59 p.m. - 2013-03-14
Oh how she talks.

Happy Pi Day, y'all!

I'm in an absurdly good mood today. It's especially absurd because what's on today's agenda is cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning. As we speak there's Comet flung all over the bathroom, the broiler pan is soaking, the washing machine is chugging along, and my lovely lime green wonder vacuum is at the ready in the dining room.

I promised Mick I wouldn't screw up my back today while I tear-ass around like a Valkyrie with a broom. (My weapon of choice in the battle against evil dirt.) I will certainly do my best not to ding my spine, my bod is actually in fine fettle this morning- a major factor in this sunshiny mood. I'm currently without menstrual woes, bowel problems, skeleto/muscular issues, heck, I don't even have any zits. To be in such fine health for once is fab. And to celebrate I'm cleaning house.

We received Wolf's 5-week report and he's still doing wonderfully. On target to keep his place on the B+ Merit Roll and possibly bump back up to the A Honor Roll this quarter. At the CSE meeting on Tuesday all his teachers had nothing but praise. The special-ed coordinators and his guidance counselor were all smiles. To a one they all said they wished they had a dozen like him. Polite, engaged, respectful, conscientious about getting his work finished, they just couldn't say enough good things about my kid. I kept my game face on and didn't blubber all over them, but I only got as far as the parking lot before I burst out into huge braying sobs. Wonder. Relief. Gratitude. How did this happen? I know Wolf made the decision to get his shit together early on in 7th grade. I think when he closed out his grade school years as 6th grade valedictorian and Student of the Year despite himself he was shocked. He could do this. He could behave himself. He could rein in his worst impulses and use that ferocious energy for something other than making trouble. Somewhere in there it clicked for him that he was in charge of himself. Something many people (including his dopey mother) don't understand until much later in life.

It's not like I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. That the old Wolf would come roaring out of retirement to go on a rampage laying waste to his life until he was back where he started- a tantrumming angry frustrated uncooperative pain in the ass bent on making life as unpleasant as possible for everyone including himself. Even back when he refused to use the toilet or wear clothes, back when he could say, "Yellow cup, yellow cup" for NINE days straight, I never doubted Wolf's strength of will, never that. What I didn't know and could never let myself hope was that he'd get it. Understand he didn't have to be like this. That was my big fear and sorrow. Would the message ever get through? Would he ever hear me?

He did. He has. And he's succeeded spectacularly.

I'll tell you something. About a quarter mile down from the General Store is Mini-Dunk's only church. It's Methodist, I think. Congregationalist? One of those quieter liberal branches of Protestantism anyhow. A modest church sided in brown cedar shake with a short steeple and a single stained-glass window. They ring a recorded carillon on Sunday mornings and every day at noon and again at dinnertime for evensong. A lovely grace note to the day when Mick and I sit on the stoop and hear the bells. The thing about the church is that they have a nursery school. There's a sign for it, a happy looking sign painted in bright primary colors with a school bus whirligig on top of it. I attended just such a nursery school from ages 2.5 to 4 and loved it. We still lived in the old house when Wolf was that age but I used to have to drive past Mini-dunk's church and its sign for the nursery school quite often. It's on the route to the welding gas store and one of the plumbing supply places I went to a couple times a week during my time as the ex's gofer and unpaid assistant. I'd pass that sign, think of my nursery school days, and then flick a glance in the rearview at Wolf strapped into his third car seat (he'd broken the first two with his thrashing tantrums) and despair. My kid was never going to make macaroni pictures or be part of circle time or be the one to pass out the dixie cups and graham crackers at snack time. Never.

Though it might sound blasphemous or creepy I'd think of this:

Because I didn't. I didn't know how to love this wild child. I didn't know how to speak to him. I didn't know how to get through to him. Goodness knows speaking was my life. I knew how to help people buy a car. I knew how to help them decide on a remodel of their second bathroom. I knew how to get a tradesman discount, finesse another month of credit, get the best table at a restaurant. I knew how to speak to foreign teenagers and ease their time in the States and how to go to an American high school and have fun. I knew how to speak to bosses, criminals, other women's husbands, how to ask a DJ for a dedication so it would actually get played, I even thought I knew how to speak to my elder son (I've since found out I was f-ing wrong on every count, but at the time I thought he loved me), but this younger son? Not a clue. All I seemed to do with him was clean up after his messes, to be driven to shouting as I tried to keep him out of the road, off the roof. Day after day of my words bouncing off Wolf's determined indifference and furious struggling. I could communicate with anyone! And I couldn't reach him. When Wolf was 3 I hadn't made a dent in him at all. Wolf was as innocent of the rules and the social contract as one who'd grown up completely alone on a deserted island. He had no language, no commonality. As he grew it only got worse. When he landed in the hospital, locked in a ward with no sharp objects, mutinous, silent except for bursts of profanity and nonsensical tirades I thought he was lost for good.

So to walk out of the high school, the regular public high school ears ringing with praise for what a terrifically kind, beautifully behaved and wonderfully smart person my son was? How could I not burst into tears?

I can't take credit, it's been on Wolf to make his choices. Just as I couldn't keep him clothed or stop him from sneaking into the kitchen to smash yet another dozen eggs on the floor or prevent him from telling his 4th grade teach to fuck off and die, I haven't been the one to convince Wolf he can do his work, sit in his classes quietly, not get into fights on the school bus, he did that. But I did keep talking. Lost and frightened and often without any hope I kept talking. My kid isn't the only one in this family with an iron will.

If I can't take the glory for bringing my son into the light, I can say I never gave up on him. When he finally, finally decided to step into this world I was there to greet him with open arms.

Might sound grandiose, that I'm whacked-out on the uppy, but today between paragraphs I've been cleaning the house I've spent the last two years battling for in the courts, tilting against the greedy bank and saving it from my ex-husband's idiocy. Tidying and cleaning so tonight I can sit at the (polished!) table with this amazing man of mine who treasures me and my son who will crack jokes and laugh, a laugh I never thought I'd get to share with him, and have a good meal and take my ease, I'll know it hasn't been easy. I take nothing for granted.


No, it don't come easy, but goddamn, it's been worth it. ~LA

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