Spilling the Beans

I told Zach about Mrs. K a couple of nights before our first appointment.  I told him that Mrs. K is a good person to talk to about anger and fears and feelings and that she would help him with all of that.  He, as usual, was totally fine with the idea of going to another “doctor.”

But the night before the appointment as we were sitting at the table eating dinner, the boys started talking about the Thanksgiving lunch that the school cafeteria makes.  They both ranted and raved about it:  pumpkin pie!  stuffing!  turkey! gravy!  It is November so they knew it must be coming up soon.  Zachary informed us with lots of emotion that he had missed the Thanksgiving lunch last year because of a doctor appointment.  “I sure hope I don’t miss it this year!” he exclaimed.

I was amazed that he remembered he had missed the special lunch last year and was sure he wouldn’t miss this year’s since we don’t have many appointments scheduled.  To reassure him that he wouldn’t miss the lunch, I said, “Well, as long as it’s not tomorrow or next Tuesday or next Thursday, then you’ll be there for the lunch.”

Both boys immediately got up from the table and ran to the fridge to check the school lunch calendar.  A few seconds later, I knew that the special lunch must be scheduled for one of the three days I just mentioned because Elliot let out a heavy, “Oh, no!!” and Zippy started freaking out.

“It’s tomorrow . . .,” Elliot said.

I quickly realized that this appointment with a lady who is supposed to help Zach with his emotions and anxieties was turning out to be adding to his troubles.  If the Thanksgiving lunch was really that important to him, then I wanted him to be able to eat it.  And I mostly was feeling desperate to help calm him.  So I told him he didn’t have to go to the appointment. Mrs. K had given me the choice of coming alone the first time or coming with Zach the first time.  I had thought we would come together, but I would be going alone after all.

So on Thursday at noon, while Zippy was thoroughly enjoying the Thanksgiving lunch at school, I met with Mrs. K to talk about him.  I liked Mrs. K.  We talked for about 45 minutes — her asking questions and me answering them.

It is an amazing thing to put Zachary’s issues and history into a nutshell.  It is amazing to stop and listen to myself list off the things that that child deals with . . . the things he “was dealt.”  And it was amazing to watch Mrs. K, someone who knows the seriousness of the issues, to react to one, after another, after another, after another thing as it was revealed.

“Oh, and he has a seizure disorder,” I said.

And we  continued to talk.  And Mrs. K’s sympathy and surprise was obvious as I told her more and more things.  Things that are “old hat” to us.  They are life for us.

“Oh, and he has asthma.”

Mrs. K flipped to a new page and  continued writing, shaking her head in amazement.

Listing all the details in one sitting like this feels a little overwhelming.  Even a little embarrassing for some reason.  I think it is embarrassing because it just seems so exaggerated and ridiculous.

“Oh, and he has an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts.  It is one of his biggest anxieties.”

Mrs. K tells me that she has peanut butter crackers in her office today, but that next time we’re there she will not have peanut butter.  She even decides that bringing peanut butter crackers in her office was a very bad idea to begin with.  I thought that was funny and cute and sweet.

“Oh, and he has ADHD.”

Jeez, how did I forget to say that earlier?  This part is also embarrassing.  That I forgot to say he had ADHD.  Forgot?  How can a mom forget something like that?  That’s one of the reasons we called Mrs. K to begin with.  Jeez.  What else had I forgotten to tell her?

“Oh, yeah.  He’s black, and the rest of us are white.”

Mrs. K put down her pen and looked at me.  Had she heard enough?  Had she decided that this mama sitting on her couch was making all this stuff up?  Was she mad that I was spilling the beans in a random order and messing up her note-taking?

But she answered with much sympathy, “Bless his heart.  He has so much to deal with.”  And shaking her head again, she picked up her pen and continued writing.

She asked about Zach’s sibling relationships.  I told her I thought they were pretty normal.  He and Elliot play and are friends, but they also fight a lot like brothers do.  And he adores Chloe. . . .

“He enjoys Chloe,” I said.  “He likes to play with her.  But he sometimes gets so angry with her. . . .  Did I tell you that Chloe has special needs?”

Mrs. K froze.  She put her pen down.  Uh-oh.  I guess I hadn’t mentioned that before.  Then she looked at me.  “How do you do it?  Are you so overwhelmed?” she asked.

“Sometimes,” I replied.  “But usually not. . . .  We just carry on.  It’s just life.”

“It’s YOUR life,” she corrected, reminding me that our ordinary days are not really ordinary days at all.

“Yes, it’s my life.”

And it’s Zach’s life.

And Mrs. K is going to help him deal with it.  She will meet him in a couple of weeks.  I think she’s going to like him.


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