Friday, December 25, 2009

Pupusas and Hot Coffee

It is about 10:00 a.m. and I am sitting at the kitchen table in my fleece pajamas, drinking a homemade orange mocha and eating what I have decided will be our traditional Christmas morning breakfast from now on, pupusas de chicharrón y queso, when my mother-in-law calls from the Midwest. She sounds flustered and launches right into what she wants to say before she stops herself and adds a hurried, "Oh, right, Merry Christmas." And then, "I need your interpreting services." I charge for that, I tell her. She giggles and stammers and I wonder if I need to remind her that I'm joking.

It snowed last night, she tells me, and it is fifteen degrees outside. It's Christmas morning, and there is a crew of men, all Latino, shoveling out driveways in the neighborhood. She's taken two of them mugs of coffee, but she wants to know how to ask if anyone else would like some.

She takes the phone outside and I hear her say, "Español." And then I am talking to one of the men, who sounds a bit skeptical. I tell him to please let my suegra know if anyone wants coffee. Con confianza. His voice brightens, and he assures me that he'll ask the rest of the workers. I hang up. And then I get a serious case of the warm fuzzies.

Merry Christmas. I hope you had plenty of hot coffee this morning, wherever it came from.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On Defense of Property and Other IEP Goals

Here it is again, that thick sheaf of paper that comes home in Secondo’s backpack, held together at the top with a paper clip. I forget about it sometimes, when our days are filled with stories, shopping, trips to the park. The paperwork that reminds me that so much of what P and I do with the boys is deliberate, purposeful, reinforced daily by teachers at school, all of us working doggedly to accomplish specific goals, goals that are spelled out in black and white in excruciating detail. The paperwork that reminds me, lest I forget—oh, right!--that my kids are in special education classes. I close my eyes before looking at it, and, as I always do, will myself to remember as many of Secondo’s IEP goals as I can. I do know a lot of them, in general, but every time I open his IEP I am surprised, again, improbably, at the level of detail and the formulaic language. And there are always a couple of goals that I’ve forgotten.

This is Secondo’s progress report, sent home for us to go over before parent-teacher conferences this week. It is peppered with acronyms: ES for emerging skill. Even a few SPs for sufficient progress here and there. The category headers remind me just how different my boys are from other children their age. Social Language. Body Orientation. Acknowledging Glance. Verbal Turn Taking. Use Peer’s Name.

Then there’s my very favorite, Defense of Property, which sounds more like something I’d be likely to hear in court, not in an educational document. Secondo does not consistently show any sort of reaction when a peer takes something from him. He needs physical and verbal cues to react when a peer takes something he is playing with. By such-and-such-a-date, Secondo will use one or more words to express prohibition or cessation of a peer's action (i.e. stop, no, that's mine, etc) with no more than 1 prompt in 4 out of 5 opportunities over 5 consecutive sessions. This freaked out both Primo and Secondo’s evaluators from the very start—the fact that they weren’t too bothered about kids taking things from them. It was a Big Red Flag, apparently, and I watched as one teacher played a game with Primo in which they took a toy from each other over and over again, saying, “Mine!” And I was both kind of incredulous and kind of saddened that all of a sudden I had special ed teachers determined to teach my sons the concept of “mine.” But then I watch kids at the playground, like the boy who threw his entire body over a toy (one the boys had been playing with first but calmly turned over to him) so they wouldn’t play with it, and the other who screamed and screamed about how he WOULD NOT SHARE the instant Secondo showed some interest in the train he was playing with. Normal reactions for kids their age, to be sure. And I must admit I feel a little conflicted about this one—when these things happen, my inclination is to tell the boys to go find something else to do. Maybe I should be teaching them more about not being pushovers, but at the same time, this “normal” preschool behavior is something I’m just as happy not to have to deal with. (Most of the time, anyway—they’re no saints, and we’ve had our share of altercations over toys and the like. But I often suspect we have fewer issues than we would if our kids were typical.)

I’m looking forward to the conferences, even though highlighting your child’s weaknesses is never fun. There will be many, many strengths, too. And I will prepare by reading the progress report, the summary of goals, this document that reminds me of how far there is to go, still. And also of how hard we’ve worked to get where we are.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Musings from Primo




[I think it's safe to say Primo--finally--has gotten the hang of using the potty. And he's definitely clear on the reward. One down, one to go.]

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


So, I suppose November 4th isn’t exactly the right day to make an appearance on my blog shouting, Woo-hoo! NaBloPoMo! I’m totally doing it! Because really, I’ve failed before I’ve begun. Also, I have not been successful when trying to do NaBloPoMo in the past. But hey, that’s not the right attitude. If anything, that means the pressure’s off. So I shall dust the cobwebs off the blog and post a little more regularly this November.

On that note, I’ve just come back home after a week away and two little boys who are very happy to see me have started crawling into bed with us in the wee hours of the morning, which is a first for them. And on one hand, awww. So flattered. On the other hand: Dude. I need my sleep.

Good night. (When I say "wee hours of the morning, I mean 3:15 a.m. Yawn.)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Torta Chilena

Our trip to Costa Rica was such a luxury, made possible through a long series of events and coincidences. The luxurious part was being able to stay there for so long--our last couple of trips have been so rushed that staying for an entire month was just sublime.

The fact that it was so long, though, plus the craziness into which I plunged upon arriving back home, has meant that reentry has been particularly difficult. I'm homesick for the first time in a long time and find myself daydreaming about all kinds of things we did on vacation, mostly the mundane ones, the time spent with my family.

Which brings me to the torta chilena. My mother is retired and lives on the beach, and after spending a couple of weeks there, we packed up the boys and hopped on the bus to San José. We had the driver drop us off on the outskirts of the city, where my brother works, and then just sat at the bus stop with our piles of luggage until he came to pick us up. My mother had to squeeze between the car seats. The luggage barely fit. I wouldn't be able to carry any bags on my lap in the front seat, my brother informed me, and pointed at a box he'd brought with him. I was in charge of holding the torta chilena, which he'd had a colleague make to celebrate our arrival.

Everyone seems to have heard of tres leches, but I don't think I've ever seen a torta chilena in this country. Just imagine about eight or ten thin rounds of shortbread cookies, about ten inches in diameter. Then just stack them on top of each other, spreading dulce de leche on each layer as you go. Dulce de leche is the glue that holds it all together. If you want, you can frost it with meringue. But you can also just top it with more dulce de leche. The meringue is never quite as good after the first day.

Then again, this torta chilena didn't last a day. My brother also pointed out that it was made with sweetened condensed milk, not dulce de leche. (Costa Rica: the land where sweetened condensed milk is sold in child-sized cans with pop tops so you can get your fix anytime you want.)

And so I sit here in a windowless office, on a slow day at work. I'm feeling that post-lunchtime heaviness kick in. And I sure could go for a cup of coffee and a slice of that heavenly torta chilena.

[I've never made it myself, but this recipe looks good. I just might have to make it.]

Friday, September 4, 2009

Primo: The short version

A million years ago (wait—was it only last spring?), Primo was evaluated by the good people of our school district. The results, in a nutshell:

Cognitive domain: above average. The therapist’s jaw drops when he takes her book from her and starts reading, in English and Spanish.

Social domain: below average. This after he has been observed in his regular classroom.

Speech: He passed, but I’m not sure he should have, are the words of the speech pathologist after she scratches her head and we discuss things for an entire hour after the evaluation.

Do you even qualify for special education services if your only issues are social? I ask my friends. I really don’t know. I’m thinking no.

Apparently, you do. So Primo is assigned a special education teacher in the spring, Ms. J, a wonderful, kind soul I like immediately. The initial plan is for her to work with Primo in his regular preschool class once a week for an hour and a half. It all sounds good.

Then comes his IEP meeting. I go alone, since both boys are sick and P has to stay home. I went to his school and observed him myself, Ms. J tells me. It won’t be enough. She is kind, but her tone implies, it’s worse than we thought. He needs to stay in his regular preschool, she tells me. He needs to be with his typical peers as much as possible. But he needs more help, not just an hour or so a week. The two days he’s not in school, she suggests, he can be in a special education class like Secondo, at the same school.

My heart sinks, but it immediately sounds right to me. I tell them I want to call P before I sign the IEP. Then I sign it. And then I cry most of the way home. I try to calm myself down enough so I can see the road through my tears. A chipper, upbeat song comes on the radio, a song that sounds like it’s destined to be the feel-good song of the summer (I find out later it’s “I’m Yours,” by Jason Mraz), and I don’t know if I want to go home and download it immediately or if I never want to hear it again. And I curse this straight stretch of road between our house and Secondo’s school. Because it’s not the first time I’ve cried on this path.

And then I am just sad and conflicted, and it takes me a little while to get used to the fact that both of my boys are in the system. We get contradictory information from the school for a while during the summer. Secondo is changing schools. No, he’s not. Yes, he is. No, he’s not. My mind reels when I think of the logistics involved with two boys, two schools, three different classes, three different schedules. Not to mention work for me, home visits from teachers and appointments with the psychiatrist. I stop blogging for a while, because I can’t quite express what I’m feeling.

And then things just start to click into place in ways I could not have imagined, even if I’d been asked to think of the best possible scenarios. I get work that involves travel, Paul has to travel for a conference, and on the spur of the moment, we decide to go to Costa Rica for a month. The boys have tons of friends and family around, get to go to the pool every day and hang out on the beach. They watch all kinds of TV, in Spanish. It is great for their language skills. I drink piña coladas with my mother and sister-in-law, and watch movies with my brother. The word autism comes up maybe once or twice.

I get a call from P, who is back in the U.S. Are you sitting down? he asks. He got a call from a school administrator, who tells him about a new class they’re putting together. A mixed class, half typical children, half developmentally delayed. Ms. J spoke to her and lobbied hard for Primo, who she thinks would be an ideal candidate for the class. He would attend five days a week. His schedule would be the same as Secondo’s. Oh, and Ms. C, Secondo’s old teacher we love so much and to whom I said such tearful good-byes last year, is being moved up a year, so she’ll be his teacher again next year.

And so, as I download supply lists and prepare to head to Target for hand sanitizer and new fall shoes, I am filled with such hope, excitement, and happiness for both of my boys. I will be going to two open houses at school next week, and then school will start. The four hours—four hours!—I will have to myself every day, at least on days I’m not working, is just the icing on the cake.

I am still pinching myself and trying to ignore the voice that is telling me that this is all too good to be true. The year holds so much promise, for all of us, and right now, at least, I can’t help but think it will be a great one.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Multiple Choice (Also a Fun Game to Play With Your Spouse!)

You are carrying five electronic devices and a sippy cup in your purse. (Note to self: Bad idea.) When the lid pops off and an entire cup of water is emptied into your purse, which gizmo bites the dust?

1. iPod Touch
2. Flip video camera
3. Digital camera
4. Cell phone*
5. GPS

Answer: Digital camera. Yes, I have a case for it. No, it was not in its case, but at least every other device was. Sigh.

*The cell phone doesn't really count since it's already mostly dead after it vibrated right off the top of the toilet into the toilet a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fire Trucks and Ladders

I sit in the middle of our tiny living room surrounded by mounds of Fisher-Price toys, puzzles, bins of blocks and crayons and chalk. And also books. For the first time ever it occurs to me that P may have a point when he says we have too many books, because our crappy World Market folding bookshelf has collapsed under their weight. When I empty it and remove it from its corner, it immediately falls into several pieces and I curse under my breath before getting to work with the screwdriver, hammer and glue. Then I curse some more.

The shelves flap back and forth and the pegs refuse to slide into their slots. I’ve gotten glue all over me. The commotion draws Secondo over from the table where he was watching his brother play on the computer, and it occurs to me that trying to get this done while the boys are even awake was a stupid idea. Sure enough, Secondo grabs the shelves and tries to squeeze through the open sides. I grumble and shoo him away. Repeatedly.

Finally, he is content to stand and watch. Bomberos, he says. Bomberos, bomberos.

My mind is on the bookcase. Yes, Secondo, I think. A fire truck went down our street ten minutes ago, and I ran to the door and opened it so you could watch it speed by, the way I do every single time I hear a fire truck, because you adore them and I love watching you watch them. But they’re gone, and right now I’m in the middle of something that is really annoying me.

Bomberos, he says again. And then, escalera.

I stop and rub the glue from my hands. Escalera, he says, and touches the bookcase. And it hits me that the sides of the bookcase, with their rungs, look exactly like a ladder, and I laugh.

I don’t know if the thing will hold together. But I’m a lot less annoyed with it now.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shopping With Primo [Or: When Your Early Reader Can Kind Of Be a Pain In the Ass]

[Buying cereal at our local Trader Joe’s.]

Keen: Vamos a comprar Cheerios.

Primo: [Whiny] No son Cheerios!

Keen: No, no son Cheerios. Son Joe’s O’s.


Keen: Sigh.

[The Cheerios bars made from said Trader Joe's High Fiber Organic O's were delicious. I think I liked them more than the boys did.]

Monday, June 15, 2009


The boys' nanny quit unexpectedly a couple of months ago. While it definitely shook things up around here, I'm lucky that a) I'm a freelancer and b) It was a slow month and I had no work lined up when she quit, so I was able to take a month off. And that month was idyllic. I got to spend an entire month with my boys, and I loved it.

What will always stand out when I think of this spring is the dandelions in the huge field Primo and I walk by as we're walking home from school. He insists on picking them, and he refuses to blow on them himself but instead hands them to me. And every time, I am reminded of one of my very favorite poems ever, "La florecita de diente de león" by the Costa Rican writer Carmen Lyra:

Soy la florecita
del diente de león,
parezco en la hierba
un pequeño sol

Me estoy marchitando,
ya me marchité;
me estoy deshojando,
ya me deshojé.

Ahora soy un globo
fino y delicado,
ahora soy de encaje,
de encaje plateado.

Somos las semillas
del diente de león,
unas arañitas
de raro primor.

¡Qué unidas nos puso
la mano de Dios!
Ahora viene el viento:
¡Hermanos, adiós!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

This Post Is Brought to You by the Letters S and E

If you start typing letters in the search window in the upper right-hand corner of my browser, Google will helpfully suggest search phrases that begin with those letters for you.

If you type in the letters S and E, for example, one of the options is Sesame Street. Another is sexual intercourse.

If your computer-obsessed (and remarkably computer-literate) preschooler types in both of those letters for whatever reason, guess which option he will pick?

[Time for parental controls. I wouldn't have been so freaked out about it, except the kid can read and I didn't want him repeating that at preschool. Also, he'd clicked on the Google Images tab. I supervise him when he's on the computer, but he was fast.]


So, all I have to say for myself is that IEP season kicked my ass but good.

I’m still sorting it out, and there will be details. And I know that blogging will probably make me feel good after I do it, kind of like exercise, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to sit down and do it. (Blog. Or exercise, either.)

I don’t want this blog to be All Autism, All the Time, but that’s kind of how things have felt around here lately, so instead I’m silent.

And yet—there’s been so much good stuff, too. The extra time I’ve been able to spend with my boys since our nanny quit. The fact that my mom is here to lend a hand, and she makes the best piña coladas on this planet. The unbelievable progress Secondo has made lately. Firing up the grill on cool evenings for no real reason and enjoying time on the patio with a nice glass of white wine. Work, even, because it’s always interesting.

I might have to ease back into things with some fluff. Jump-start the blog and see what happens.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I am constantly on the lookout for children's books in Spanish. I find them in Costa Rica, on Amazon, on my online book-swapping site (I've had surprisingly good luck there), at library sales, at thrift stores and once, incredibly, at a yard sale. I often--though not always--use money from my own budget in order to avoid financial ruin. We have quite a library built up, and I love seeing the boys get all excited when I come home and announce I've brought them a libro nuevo.

I found the Latin Baby Book Club last year and was thrilled to finally find a place that had useful, thoughtful recommendations for children's books in Spanish. I'll be writing monthly reviews there, and my first one is up here. The book is called Poemas con sol y son, and it's one of our favorite books of poetry to read together.

Just FYI, in case anyone is interested!


Thanks you all--both my IRL friends and my friends in the computer--for your comments on my last post. (I left that support group meeting thinking, "Damn, I wish I could go have coffee with Kal and Christine.") I think people who blog regularly know this, but I hadn't quite realized just how much better I would feel once I posted about that meeting. Kal's comment provided some food for thought, too. This is Secondo's teacher's very first year teaching, so she's very enthusiastic and caring, and she is just so good with him. I don't even want to think about him moving up a class next year.

The flip side of the meeting was that it led to a discussion of IEPs that I found incredibly useful, especially since we will be redoing Secondo's next month. I need to walk into this one prepared.

My brain is mush right now, but I just wanted to say thanks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I occasionally attend a support group for parents of children with special needs. I was excited to find out about it, and even though it’s held on weekday mornings, my schedule sometimes allows it. I’ve met some very nice people, including the coordinator, a gentle soul I was drawn to the minute I met her, a woman who gives out her cell phone number so you can call her in the middle of the night about an IEP if you need to. They are a wealth of information and experience. Their kids are all older than mine. Many of their children have multiple disabilities and are autistic on top of that, a fact that humbles me. They treat me, the newcomer, with kid gloves. Your son was just diagnosed, they tell me. You’ll never be as vulnerable as you are right now. It will never be this hard again. It will still be hard, but it will be different.

And every time I go, I question whether or not I should go back.

The group is different every time, so we start with introductions. My son, Secondo, is three, I tell the group at the most recent meeting. He’s autistic, and he’s in the special-ed preschool class. His teacher is wonderful, and he’s made a lot of progress. She just told us we need to rewrite his IEP, because he’s mastered most of the goals in his current IEP.

I tell the group this, and it’s not like I’m expecting a fucking cookie, as my roommate used to say. But I am definitely not expecting the response I get, which is this:

Laughter. Followed by: “Well, enjoy it now, because that’s never going to happen again.” A couple of snorts. Taken aback, I look at the coordinator, who says, “You do know that this won’t happen again.” I don’t know if it’s a statement or a question. Her tone is gentle, her expression is compassionate, but she is speaking as if she needs to disabuse me, the Pollyanna in their midst, of the notion that my son’s progress in preschool means that life will be nothing but rainbows and fairy dust from now on.

“Oh, sure,” I laugh, because now I am on the spot, and I have to laugh it off. But I am hurt, really hurt. We move on to the next introduction.

The thing is, I know. No one has to tell me. I know things get hard, really hard. I know that parents hire advocates because they feel the system is failing their children and have knock-down, drag-out fights at IEP meetings. I think about junior high and about kids being cruel to my boy, and it terrifies me. I know Secondo will be autistic for the rest of his life, and I don't know what his future holds. I know that Secondo’s special-ed preschool class is a special little bubble, one in which in many ways, I don’t have to face reality. In this bubble I can concentrate on the good, and only on the good, if I so desire. I know. I know one of the reasons he’s mastered his goals is because they were so basic to begin with, and that things will become much more challenging. But I’d rather just be happy that he’s mastered these goals. Because if I really think hard about the fact that one of the original goals was to get him to respond to his name, it makes me want to cry.

But you know what? No matter how basic those goals were, I normally do find it easy to feel optimistic about things. Because the fact of the matter is, Secondo wasn’t responding to his name a few months ago. (Before he was evaluated, but after we’d shared our concerns with P’s parents, they came to visit and my father-in-law spent a great deal the visit yelling, “Secondo!!” and clapping his hands in Secondo’s face to get him to respond. I can’t even describe how stressed out I was, or the despair I felt right then.)

But he’s come a long, long way since then, and I’m prouder of him than I can say.

So, let me try my introduction again, here, on my blog. My son is three, his name is Secondo, and he’s autistic. He’s in a special-ed preschool class, and he’s doing great. His teacher suggested we rewrite his IEP soon, because he’s mastered most of his goals. They were basic goals, but they were things I couldn’t even imagine him doing only a few months ago.

Isn’t that awesome?

[And hey, if you want to leave a comment, at least you know what not to say.]

Friday, March 6, 2009

The iMix

Here it is. Some of it is music I think would get anyone's toes tapping. Some of it I like solely due to the fact that I was raised in a Latin American country in the eighties. (Hey, I could apologize for the early Luis Miguel or Franco de Vita ballads, but I included those songs because I know EVERY SINGLE WORD and I can really belt them out, while my children either watch me, wide-eyed, or dissolve into giggles.)

Enjoy, whether it brings back memories, or whether you're just looking for a few catchy songs with a Latin beat!

Copying and pasting code now...wish me luck.

[Edited to add: Have no idea what any of these songs are? Definitely skip my sentimental favorites, but you might want to check out the more contemporary stuff: Mi primer millón, Cha cha, Te mando flores, Mi bombón, La flaca, and the songs by Juanes. Juanes and Jarabe de Palo are just good bets, period.]

Thursday, March 5, 2009

New Gigs

Given my, shall we say, lack of rigor when it comes to posting on my own blog, you might be surprised to hear I will be contributing to two new blogs. What can I say--I work well when I need to meet a deadline set by someone else. Also, they're Latina-oriented blogs, and I like them very much.

You can find my most recent post at Mi Cielito Lindo here, if you're interested. It's a short list of the catchy Latino music I listen to with my kids when I just can't take another minute of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" or "Los pollitos dicen." It's inspired me to create an iMix, which I'll post later if I can figure out how to do it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


We made it home, and everyone is healthy, happy, and sleeping through the night.

Our plane was delayed a couple of hours, so we missed our connection. Secondo and I were seated behind a nasty couple who complained to the flight attendant when Secondo had a dirty diaper right before takeoff (exact quote: "Gawd, don't you have an extra diaper? 'Cause your kid smells like CRAP."), and then again when Secondo kicked the seat in front of him a few times before I stopped him by putting up his tray table. I don't think I would have been so upset by the whole thing if it hadn't been for the fact that my kids were being SO GOOD. It was a long flight. Sigh.

We made it home at 2 a.m. I checked my messages to find out where I was supposed to be working that morning and found out it was a murder trial. I stopped by the cafeteria on my way upstairs, and one sip of the harsh, institutional coffee jolted me back to reality. I drank it anyway, to get rid of the throbbing headache, and at least it worked.

I expected to find the results of Primo's evaluation waiting for me when I got back. Instead, there was a ten-day-old message from the speech therapist on the answering machine asking me to call her so she could ask me a few more questions.

I put a huge dent in the driver's side of the car when I scraped past a barrier at a gas station on my way back from a birthday party on Saturday, which was both frustrating and really embarrassing because I was in the middle of telling my passenger all about how my driving KICKS ASS. P, to his credit, reacted by telling me in mock exasperation, "Don't you know all dents are supposed to be on the passenger's side?!" That side is, indeed, seriously dented. The most frustrating thing is that now guys in parking lots all over the DC metro area will probably not stop trying to get me to pay them to punch out the dents in my car.

Slowly getting back into the swing of things. More to come.

Monday, February 23, 2009


My love of granizados, or copos, as they're called in Costa Rica, goes back to when I was a little girl. In fact, one of my most vivid memories from when we had just moved here is of losing my copos money at school. I was in the third grade at our local public school for a few months and was teased mercilessly, mostly because of my gringuita accent. Those were such difficult months for me, having been suddenly uprooted and dropped into a foreign country, having to wear a school uniform, make new friends and adjust to making Spanish my primary language, but somehow a copo made everything all better at the end of the day. The day I lost my money, I cried all the way home.

Back then, they were sold by vendors who had little pushcarts. On the carts were strings of bells, and like the ice cream man, you could hear them coming blocks away. Inside the cart was a block of ice, which they shaved with a metal box-like contraption--the sound of the scraping of the ice is one I'll never forget. On top of the cart were bottles of flavored syrup and condensed milk, which was drizzled on top if you wanted a granizado con leche. And a bag of powdered milk if you wanted dos leches, for a price, of course, but dos leches was the only way to go. My tío N found granizados repulsive, because the señor de los copos touched the ice, money, and God-knows-what-else with his hands--¡qué asco!--but I sure didn't care.

I think the señor de los copos may be a thing of the past, but I still make a point to indulge when I'm here. Some places make them in slushee machines (bleh), others crush ice to perfection with a machine. A layer of ice, a layer of powdered milk, another layer of ice, syrup, and sweetened condensed milk on top--it's amazing to me how a copo can still make me feel like things are all better.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'm Still Here. Really.

Except where I am is here:

The not-so-great part is that both Primo and P were terribly sick the day we flew, then Secondo got sick, and both of the boys have been having Major Sleep Issues, the likes of which we had not experienced for a long time. So my fantasies of leisurely catching up on blogging on the terraza while sipping piña coladas and reading one of the three books I optimistically brought with me have been replaced by fantasies of sleeping, anywhere, anytime, and preferably as soon as possible. And preferably, also, without a kicking, screaming toddler in bed with me.

Seriously, though, it's beautiful. Being with my family in the house where I grew up, or on the beach at my mother's, seeing familiar faces, eating gallo pinto and granizados, it takes the edge off the exhaustion. (As does the hard liquor we bought at the duty-free store. And the fact that I'm on vacation, so I can go ahead and make myself a rum and coke at noon if I damn well please.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

From the Planner of Keen

Appointment #1

When: Tomorrow
Who: Secondo
What: IEP meeting to see if he qualifies for occupational therapy. He was evaluated a few weeks ago, and we need to get additional therapy for him, but it sure would be nice if he qualified for services at school. The only information I have about how his evaluation went is an offhand comment from Ms. C, who told me the OT was concerned about his fine motor skills.
Keen’s anxiety level: Moderate. Even though every IEP meeting so far has been positive, I can’t say I enjoy them.

Appointment #2

When: Tomorrow
Who: Primo
What: Formal evaluation by speech/educational specialists.
Keen’s anxiety level: Through the roof. I have such mixed feelings about this. Do I want him not to qualify for services? If he doesn’t, maybe it means his preschool teachers were wrong and he just marches to a different beat, which would be a relief. Do I want him to qualify? If he does, that means he’ll end up in Secondo’s special-ed class, which is a wonderful place for Secondo, but I’m not sure Primo needs to be there. These thoughts play in my head on an endless loop, and I have no answers. I’m not sure the evaluation team can give me answers. One thing worth mentioning is that a Spanish-speaking team will evaluate him, which is a relief because his Spanish is still definitely stronger than his English.

Appointment #3

When: Tomorrow
Who: Primo and Secondo
What: Dentist’s appointment
Keen’s anxiety level: Low, in that it will affect no one’s future and has nothing to do with developmental issues. High, in that I am not looking forward to wrangling two three-year-olds by myself at the dentist’s office.

Appointment #4

When: Tuesday
Who: Secondo
What: Appointment with the psychiatrist
Keen’s anxiety level: Mostly low, but high on either end of the appointment. I love Dr. B, though I still find it kind of surreal that we take Secondo to see the psychiatrist every two weeks. It initially seemed too often, so at one point we let three weeks go by without an appointment and then regretted it. It’s amazing how much we find to talk about. Sometimes I feel like they’re more about Secondo, and sometimes they’re more about us. Topics for discussion this week: Secondo’s newfound fascination with reflections, which I find a little unsettling. Occupational therapy. The fact that he's constantly bringing things over to show me. Ms. C’s reports of Secondo’s enthusiasm during circle time, and the way he’s been going up to his classmates and hugging them, or wanting to hold their hands while walking down the hall.
This will be the first time I go without P, however, which means that I have to drive there. I don’t enjoy driving. I have a lousy sense of direction. I’m a new driver--I’ve only had my license for a few months. And I will have to drive across the District, and nothing stresses me out more than driving in the District. Also, the clinic has the craziest, most overcrowded parking lot I’ve ever seen. Just thinking about it is bringing my heart rate up.

Appointment #5

When: Tuesday
Who: Secondo
What: Doctor’s appointment
Keen’s anxiety level: Low, low, low. After all that, taking one child to see the doctor is going to be practically enjoyable.