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Gift from Hil Part 2 - 2014-12-30
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7:58 p.m. - 2013-11-23
A Lot Going On

Astonishing amount of stuff this week. Usually when writing an installment of LA's Little Life I'm doing the best I can with what tiny news I have, much like a guy with thinning hair does- I'm fluffing, arranging carefully and using each precious strand to its best advantage. Not complaining, the drama-free life is something I will never tire of. Doesn't leave a whole lot to write about though. This week, however, there were many things.

Mick and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. Yes, our anniversary is the same date as the Kennedy assassination. Something which did NOT figure into Mick's calculations when he chose our date with the justice of the peace. Back then he was all about expediency and nailing me down to a legal commitment so I couldn't yippee-skippy off like his previous two women. We had a shoddy little non-ceremony at the local JP. Wolf and I could start being included on Mick's health insurance plan right away, and Mick and I would be able to take advantage of 2009's income tax structure. Practical in the extreme. The real wedding would be a romantic do-over on May 15, 2010. Uh huh. I knew damn well when I stood in front of the JP on that mild November day wearing my jeans and with only Mick's folks and Wolf in attendance that this would be the ONLY wedding. My dream of a white dress and a fancy party with flowers and music and having all my best beloved friends there to witness and celebrate was doomed.

I did it anyway.

My fantasies vs my realities. Gigantic oaf that I am who was I to think I deserved to be wrapped in silk and lace? With flowers in my hands and hair? *snort* Like dressing an oil rig in gossamer. Or a tanker truck in embroidered satin. Absurd in the extreme for a lummox like me to pretend to be a bride. Anyhow, Mick was the very first person in my whole life who was willing to stand up and say he wanted me forever. I'm no romantic vision of ethereal loveliness, but I'm not dumb. Not a one who's going to ignore Opportunity knocking. A good, good man was insisting on being my husband, I was supposed to quibble about the details? Yeah right.

So we were married. Without fanfare or flowers or a party. Yet yesterday in honor of the day there were flowers. And a lovely card and new charms for my Pandora and dinner out and my beloved beaming at me like I was a giant cartoon check and he'd just won the lotto.

This is no one way street, btw. Mick being in my life isn't just about the goodies for me. I'm honored and grateful to be in his life. Since the advent of Mick I have come into my own and have found out just exactly what I can offer him.

Before we met he and I had been two incomplete puzzle pieces trying like hell to fit where we didn't belong. No surprise neither of us could make it work with anyone else.

On our very first date Mick heard the click of completion. The right connection at last. He knew from the moment we shook hands that he and I made a whole picture. It was a done deal before we even were seated and given menus. Mick proposed on our third date and I laughed him off. Scared and cynical I held out. I kept laughing until our eighth date and here in my office slow dancing to Aerosmith I was clocked upside my head that this man was for real. I loved him. I loved his honesty. His passion. His willingness to learn. Not only did he think I was wonderful, he felt himself a better man for knowing me.


Is it always smooth and easy? Not hardly. But name something worthwhile that is. All good things take work. A Pulitzer. Maintaining a 70lb weight loss. A Wimbledon Cup. The Dean's List. An Olympic medal. Fan of fairytales that I am I still know there's no "And they lived happily ever after." But as a goal it's not a bad one. It's what Mick and I work on. And four years in I'll say we're doing pretty damn good. We make a life together.

To wit: Last Saturday we bought a new car. Cheap-ass that I am I assumed we'd buy out the residual on Mick's Focus when the lease was up in January. The Focus was a gorgeous car. All the toys. A mermaid green paintjob. Beige leather interior. Sunroof. Sport transmission. What I hadn't anticipated was how the Focus was a shit car to passenger in. My knees were on the dash and my head scraped the roof. Wolf was folded into the backseat like a tortured origami. But Mick loved that car. It was snazzy and fast. The Focus had been Mick's and Mick's alone. In two years I drove it four times. This was okay. Mick's adjustment to being a family man had been rough. Always and ever Mick's life choices had been about what HE wanted. Jobs. Homes. Cars. At least the Focus had a back seat. It was an improvement over his pick-up truck and as much of a sacrifice as I dared ask at the time. I was hesitant to demand he change over to an actual family car.

Heh. 'Hesitant'. What I mean here was I hadn't made a peep. If the F&I office had come back with a decent offer I'd have agreed to buy the Focus and never, ever, ever said anything to Mick about how lousy his car was for me and Wolf to ride in. But they didn't. The dealership where we'd leased the Focus came in with an offer so insulting, so ridiculously expensive we didn't even consider taking it. It was then I finally spoke up and told Mick that we needed a real family vehicle. My ancient Escort still did me fine for putt-putting around on Errand Day, but if we ever wanted to go anywhere except the bread store or Sam's Club we had to get something larger. Our few trips to the shore in his Focus had been awful. Cramped and horribly uncomfortable. Wolf and I had been in actual physical pain. The ouchiness of being a passenger and the limited mileage on the Focus's lease meant I never suggested we take other trips as a family. For me and Wolf the choice was to be stuck at home or suffer. But the Focus's lease was almost up and I was goddamn sick and tired of Mick's cool car. He couldn't pretend to be an unencumbered bachelor forever. It was time for a family car.

We shopped. But not for long.

Last Saturday we went off to try on several different vehicles. Our first stop was the Nissan dealer in Rivertown. The salesperson, a lovely young woman, hooked us up with a Rogue. Sold! No need to keep looking. The Rogue was IT.

I am delighted with this vehicle. It's a total Baby Bear's chair. Not too big or too small. Not too expensive or too cheap. The gas mileage is decent and the price was amazing. Wolf and I can ride in complete comfort when Mick's at the wheel and I feel in control when I drive. The learning curve was minimal, especially considering the Rogue is substantially larger than the Focus. It has all-wheel drive and Sirius radio. It's taking some adjustment to the automatic transmission- my left foot is bored and until now I hadn't realized how much I relied on using neutral as a braking/navigation tool. In the Rogue it feels like I'm always riding the brake. Otherwise I love, love, love this car.

Last bit of news for this entry...

Yesterday was Parent-Teacher conference. Podunkville High has an odd arrangement in that you pick a day of the three offered and list which teachers you'd like to speak with. This list goes back to the teachers and they assign you a time slot on your chosen day. This year I wanted to speak with Wolf's geometry, social studies, and English teachers. These being the subjects he'll be taking the big-ass all-important Regents exams in this June. The Regents exams are graduation requirements and I wanted to be sure my kid was on target. But I also had something else to discuss with these core subject teachers. Something of a rather delicate nature and a question I didn't let myself ask until now. Namely...just how bright is my son anyhow?

I honestly didn't know.

See, until this year Wolf's schooling has been all about his behavior. How much his Asperger's was dinking with his ability to function in a classroom. Was he sitting still? Was he getting into fights? Was he swearing and spitting and freaking out and throwing tantrums? Actual academic achievements were a faint secondary consideration waaaay overshadowed by the behavioral antics stemming from his autism. When your kid is wont to peel his clothing off, throw a chair, bite someone, and/or tell a teacher to fuck off and which reading group he's in isn't exactly a priority.

These days Wolf is behaving himself and has even made a few friends. Culinary school is rocking his world in a good way. The cooking program allowed him to start on equal footing with every other kid. At culinary school he's not Wolf the Weirdo, special-ed reject shunted to the side and unknown in the larger school population, the failure who got expelled in the 3rd grade and was shipped off to educational Siberia at the misfit school- the place with the handrails, short buses and an aide for every kid. At culinary Wolf is just a regular guy who wants to learn to cook. A guy who's chosen just as often as the other students to be sous-chef and assign the menus and work duties. A somewhat talented guy who's already learned to turn out a perfect risotto and judge a steak's doneness by poking it with his index finger. (Dead on with the medium-rare, btw.) The grace note of culinary school and its wonderful side benefits for my son's ego and his ability to participate as an equal in a group endeavor has given me the breathing room to finally look to Wolf's academic ability. Over the years of his 'special' schooling my boy has pulled down enviable GPAs. Won all kinds of medals of excellence. A ream of merit certificates. Gratifying but in no way truly indicative of my child's actual real world intelligence. And this is what I finally had to courage to ask about.

On my upper level of consciousness I'd been going with the premise that my younger child was just as bright as his elder brother. As brilliant as his mother and father. Iconoclasts all. Oddball geniuses. Super smart square pegs in society's round holes. I refused to believe the strange brew DNA provided by the ex and me would/could produce anything but another genius. Whatever Wolf's struggles with societal norms he couldn't possibly be lacking in the smarts.

Ego, much? You know it. If my kids are weird, if they can't/won't conform, BFD. Flip the picture and see how fucking smart they are! Line them up with Tesla, Einstein, Anna Julia Cooper, etc, etc. The idea that one of my sons might just be of average intelligence wasn't something I was willing to let in until very recently. Like their cavity-free teeth my sons' brain power was a direct legacy from their strong-toothed, ferociously smart mother. Nevermind their social difficulties and inability to behave within societal norms, that was fouled up junk from their Aspie father's DNA. Social skills could be learned if the will is there, what truly counted was their overwhelming crazy smart brains. From me. The mother who made and loved and fought for them.

This was the consolation prize for all the other crap I've had to deal with as Wolf's mother. Nine straight days of "Yellow cup. Yellow cup." The messes, the pain, that awful, awful hospitalization. The battles to get Wolf to bathe, dress, and eat. The daily panicked pissed off phone call from the school. The hundreds of hours of uninsured wildly expensive therapy- mental, occupational, physical. The loneliness. How Wolf and I floundered on and on trying for the best and had been so often rejected by those we believed to be friends and allies. The shaming of us in public. And the idea that Wolf and I went through this Hell and didn't even have the reward of genius on our side? Good God, no. I did not, would not deal.

Guess what? My kid is just average. Polite, cooperative, eager to learn? Absolutely. Yeah, I can expect him to pull good grades. But his classes are modified. Accommodated. The fix is in. His IEP has all kinds of help listed and required by law. This doesn't say anything about his heart and capacity for kindness- both are HUGE, but as far as Wolf's schooling goes nobody is asking him to walk on water. Aside from his autism my son is simply a regular kid.

Didn't see that coming.

I got the straight poop from his teachers yesterday. Told to be glad of the grades he's already getting. Encourage him to see that a simple Regents level high school diploma is a Very Good Thing. But no, my kid will never be Ivy League material. Wolf is not a genius.

I came home and cried. And cried.

Eventually I got my wounded ego in check. Wolf is who he is. If he wasn't gifted with the brain power and IQ of his parents and his brother, if his path has been really, really hard, so what? My younger son is absolutely THE most loving person the Sage clan has ever produced.

This is something to celebrate and be proud of.

When it comes down to it I know birthing and raising a mensch, a loving and caring man and a genuine Good Guy will do the world (and my son!) a whole lot more good than if he'd been another Sage clan brainiac with a heart the size of a peach pit.

Busy week, eh? An anniversary, a new car, and a truth.

Good things come in threes, ~LA

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