The Week This Was

Charlie on the last stage of a long walk, my dad bringing up the rear The weekend (with its less-structuredness and, therefore, heightened potential for "unhappy moments") (yes that is a total euphemism but difficult things are difficult to write about) is upon us. Regardless of what ensues, it's been a good week. Charlie has had a string of great days at school. His class goes to the supermarket most Thursdays and to the library most Fridays and he did not wear his helmet for either, and he did very well. 

Since Tuesday night, my parents (Gong Gong and Po Po) have been visiting. In the past, their visits have been preceded by some quite severe bouts of anxiety, with attendant "moments," as Charlie, anticipated and worried over their leaving and his feelings not only during their visit but even before they came. Helped perhaps by a calendar I made for him with three weeks to go before they came, Charlie was nonchalant when they arrived and, while clearly pleased to have them around, nothing of a particularly house-shattering nature has occurred. My mom and dad have so far accompanied Charlie and me on two long walks after school.

My parents will be back in March, to help Jim take care of Charlie while I take 13 students on a travel course to Greece. My mom's been walking around with a notebook jotting down things Charlie says and various other this-es and thats, and my dad's working on having Charlie use his laptop to type. I did not insist that my parents walk 4 1/2 miles with us on two cold February days (and my parents are from northern California) but they've always been of the "we want to know about everything Charlie does" mindset, from sitting in on his ABA team meetings to going to the neurologist. Frankly, I feel very lucky and Charlie has been pretty pleased to find a seemingly never-ending store of Chinese dim sum-ish treats in the refrigerator when he returns from school.

Last year I was more than nervous about going on the trip. It all worked out fine (and, goes without saying, having someone else take the role of primary caregiver to Charlie for an extended period of time was a very good thing, and especially for him). But I still reserved the right to opt out if I had to, and had some long talks with my school's Director of Study Aboard about Charlie, who was then struggling mightily to hold it together in a public middle school, and my concerns about the trip (take a wild guess about which I was more worried about). She often told me "Kristina, breathe." She was a good listener and I would never have gone on the trip without her encouragement and advice.

Last Wednesday, she, and some others, were let go from their positions. Thursday I found my friend cleaning out her office.

I prefer not to say more than this. My friend is very, very missed and my students and I spent at least some part of our Friday classes talking about what had happened. Let's just say, it was the financial malaise affecting so many hitting us very close to home.

I've been able to continue to work and even to do something I still consider a bit crazy—taking students to Greece for over a week—because I've been lucky to meet many people at work who, like my friend, are ok with my prattling on out of the blue about our latest "Charles-scapade"; who've raised kids—as a single parent, in more than a few cases—and know, sometimes it's just really tough. Who always have a moment to listen and who ask me "what else can I do for you." Who understand that educating students isn't just about what happens in the classroom, but far beyond its doors, in the personal lives of faculty and staff—yes, we are actual, real people!—and even far far away, in other countries and continents. 

It does look like I will be able to go on this trip, knocking on wood that these, yes, pretty peaceful-easy feeling times (with the inevitable moments of drama, high and low) continue for Charlie. Time and again I know we've only gotten by, by the skin of our teeth, and thanks to a lot of help from so many, family and, for sure, friends.

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Comments
8 Responses to “The Week This Was”
  1. emma says:

    Great to hear the use of the helmet is being reduced!And I love that your mum has been taking notes, so great to have such support (and a fridge full of treats:)).
    Sorry to hear what is going on in work, it can be hard to find understanding employers, and the whole uncertainty with the economy and in the job market is frightening.
    If you do come to Greece I hope you will have time for a coffee:)

  2. ange says:

    kristina, I’m so glad to hear stories of supportive granparents…not just supportive but involved. I am so sorry to hear about your friend. I hope there is some way you can help her breathe during this difficult time.

  3. autismvox says:

    @ange,
    I am wanting to send her something cheering—thinking of asking students (many of whom were very upset at what happened) to write notes if they’d like to.
    @emma,
    we’ll be coming from March 11 – 20. Meeting you and Marilena was one of the highlights of the whole trip for me. I definitely would love to have coffee!

  4. Niksmom says:

    I am so sorry about your colleague and the situation at work. I am glad that you were not a part of the departing group!
    Your parents are amazing; I love how they want to know and understand what Charlie does and needs as much as they are able. That is so rare, I think. Makes me wish I knew them. 🙂

  5. Regina says:

    “Helped perhaps by a calendar I made for him with three weeks to go before they came, Charlie was nonchalant when they arrived and, while clearly pleased to have them around, nothing of a particularly house-shattering nature has occurred.”
    That’s great – sounds like it might have helped, and this sounds like a very good visit (wish I had grandparents to make after-school dim sum for me (grin)).
    Very sorry about the departure of your colleagues, and even though I don’t know them I wish them well – work friends are often good friends and sometimes extended “family”.

  6. Regina says:

    “Helped perhaps by a calendar I made for him with three weeks to go before they came, Charlie was nonchalant when they arrived and, while clearly pleased to have them around, nothing of a particularly house-shattering nature has occurred.”
    That’s great – sounds like it might have helped, and this sounds like a very good visit (wish I had grandparents to make after-school dim sum for me (grin)).
    Very sorry about the departure of your colleagues, and even though I don’t know them I wish them well – work friends are often good friends and sometimes extended “family”.

  7. j says:

    Sorry to hear about your colleague. Good friends are hard to find.
    Your parents are wonderful!

  8. j says:

    Sorry to hear about your colleague. Good friends are hard to find.
    Your parents are wonderful!

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