Friday, December 25, 2009

"trip" for the new year

have things been so calm I have not written much
I could say it again

I don't want to jinx myself
because we are going on a trip tomorrow
a trip
not a vacation
a week long stay in Mexico
you may think it is a vacation
but it is not
we are staying in one house
with my mom
my dad
my brother
his wife
and their three boys

12 people
and we just had one of our children
come home from a 2 month stay in a residential treatment center
and this part of the family
is still in denial about it

so my husband has not been pleased to begin with
and then again
neither have I

then we found out our plane leaves at 7 am
in the morning
a car is arriving at 5 am
since we are traveling internationally
and we don't even have a straight flight
we live in dallas
with an international airport
we are traveling on points
of my parents
and these tickets were booked
10 months ago
and a straight-through flight
was not even available then

I digress
we are all worried
we have not all been together
for over a year
and the last time
did not end well
when Karen had one of her meltdowns
a big one
right before a rafting trip
that my husband and I did not get to go on either
we had to drive her
back to the condo
30 minutes away
with her screaming
and kicking

she is scared too
she is not sure how she is going to react
I told her we are there for her
we will not leave her alone
either her daddy or me
will be with her at all times

I am worried
I am worried about her
about my husband
he is not a good traveler anyway
and then this
not being his idea
will make him worse
I want to put a xanax in his coffee in the morning

I am worried about me
my mother
my father
and their cluelessness
if that is even a word
they still don't realize that
Karen was in a mental hospital
they thought it was just a place
for kids with problems
doctors and nurses
watching them 24/7
checking the bedrooms every
15 minutes with a flashlight
that sounds like camp@@

and I worry about my brother
and his family
who have avoided this issue at all costs

they will see her
think she looks good
and they will just go on
and pretend nothing happened

but it did
and it is so good right now
I just don't want it to get worse

I can only hope my worry is for nothing
but until
it is over
I will never know

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

a month

things have gotten better every day
I had my first birthday in almost 5 years
without any tears
by me

it is the first one I can remember
without any drama
or that I haven't put on my pajamas
and gone to bed
because I was so dissapointed
with the behavior of one of my children
usually it was Karen
but sometimes it was the combination
of the whole thing
and even my husband didn't always help

the point is
Karen is making progress
so much progress
that she does not even realize it
every day she is pushing herself
and feeling so proud
for the first time in her life
she is maturing
and becoming confident
it is amazing to watch

it is amazing what she is doing
she has made such great strides
her father and I are in awe of her
her sisters are so proud of her
I love seeing her smile
when she is proud of herself

She seriously does not realize how much
she has changed
she started driving
she had made plans with other kids
she is feeling confident at school
she took her finals
she got anxious
but she acted out physically
and not with rage
and THAT is a huge improvement

she still gets nervous
sick to her stomach
and dizzy
but I feel
it is when she is still unsure of herself
and when she is doing so much

she looks so good too
one of her medications last year
caused a tremendous weight gain
the med did help
but at the cost of her looks
which upset her in a different way
now she has lost weight
and I made her throw away
some old jeans

I can tell she is proud
getting ready to pack for our vacation
she was rocking a bathing suit
and she got embaressed
by all the compliments

i bet she was smiling inside
and to me
that is all that matters

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

so late so nervous

I love thanksgiving
I do
it is the time of year
to give thanks

it has been a rough few months
so rough
so scary
full of tears
and lately
at last
and well deserved

but now
my parents are coming in
and spending the holiday with us

I am really scared
they are really clueless
they don't understand
what we have been going through

we have not seen them in almost 6 months
they don't live far away
only 3
maybe 4 hours
it never occured to them
to come in to help us
when our oldest was gone
or even
when she got home

I am nervous
that my dissapointment
will show up as anger
while they are here

I actually told them
of my dissapointment
before Karen was released
while she was still in
her treatment center
I let them know
I was not happy with their lack of help
or my brother and his family's

it seemed it was not taken well
by anyone
and instead of trying to see things
from our perspective
it seems
they all turned it around
and made me the bully
I was even more distraught
and I couldn't share any of this with my children
my husband knew
and he was more angry
at them
for me

it didn't make sense to him

then after Karen got home
I shared more of my dissapointment
and then
my dear supportive husband
spoke on my behalf
he did not mix words
and we thought they got the message
my parents actually apologized
and promised to make changes

it is 6 weeks later
and they still never came in
to see

what changes
maybe a phone call or two more
an offer to come in
to help
with doctor's appointments
to let us get a night out
help with school

last weekend
I told them
I was scared
how I would act
this week

I kept saying
what could *I* have said
that would have made a difference
what could *I* have done
so that they would understand

just clueless
my dad said he never thought about it
my mom said she thought
we were so busy
she thought
we didn't want her
was it mentioned
or offered
or suggested
after I had told
them what I needed
6 weeks before

I was shocked
how could this happen
I thought I knew them
understood them
until just a few months ago

they got here tonight
and they acted like nothing happened

do they think
if they don't talk
about it
that we will forget

they don't notice
that the eyes of
all their
have lost a little spark
that some innocense
is missing
that these girls
have noticed
their grandparents absense

I wonder
how I will make it the next couple of days
it is so late
and I am so nervous
of how I will react
how they will react
how my daughters will react
and how my husband will react
he will hurt anyone who hurts me
I am so thankful for that
in this situation
it scares me

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Steps forward

more steps forward
than backwards
and that is what is important

another weekend
another bat mitzvah

Karen went to the sabbath dinner
and I had not even
until we were there
it was her first
big event
where it was not just family
or her friends at school
the first time
she was in a large group
at least
it was in a home
she felt comfortable

I stayed with her most of the time
she did well
some people tried to hug her
not her cup of tea
but she did well

on saturday night
when the rest of us
were at the bat mitzvah
service and party
Karen had a friend
spend the night
they went to dinner
then watched a movie

Bethany and Lucy
my husband and I
enjoyed seeing
the little girl do her torah service
we had watched her grow up
she was a little terror at 5
but now
just beautiful
honest and gracious
at 13
beam from the bima
we laughed
danced and enjoyed her party

one of my middlest's friends
thought I was drunk
but Bethany explained
"oh no
she always dances like that"
as long as I didn't embaress her
I guess is all that mattered

baby steps forward
for all of us

all the girls
laughed when we got home
my three
and one extra
one that I never knew
could be a part of our lives

the child that I still worry about
the one who I thought
would always be my shadow
had a friend spend the night

it had been a long time
since that happened
and it was all
a part
of the moving forward
that we are all
grateful for
so happy to see

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Billy Crystal

I was so excited
I had bought tickets for Billy Crystal's
Tony award winning show
700 Sundays
I promised by husband I would take him
sometimes I take girlfriends
the event was on my calendar
for tonight

we were getting ready
and he asked me what time it started
I said I needed to check the tickets
I found the tickets
and the date
I totally goofed
how could I do that
put it on the wrong night
in my calendar

He saw my look
and knew it was not good
I called the box office
thank goodness
it was still open
and they had tickets for tonight
the seats weren't as good
but we could still go

and I am so glad we did
we needed a night out
we left the girls
all alone
for the first time in
I don't know
ever I feel like
but I knew that is not true
15, 17 and 12
we should be able to leave them
we are not a typical family
and we know it

we went to dinner first
then to the show
in a brand new opera house
that was warm and cozy

the show was beautiful
Billy took
his family stories
old movies
and told them to us
it was so personal
the loss of his father at 15
the jazz clubs he went to
wanting to play baseball
deciding to be a comedian
his brothers
his mother
the fun times
the heartbreak

it made me think of my own family
and how things don't always
look the way they seem
the family ties
that should be close
are not always
the ones you think you can count on
aren't always there when you need them

I cried
for Billy
for me
for my daughters
who I want to keep safe
and loved

for my extended family
who does not always understand
what we are going through
what is so hard to explain
how we struggle daily
but don't want to admit it
every day is a new day
and every morning
I never know
how the oldest will wake up
or treat her sisters
or me
or her dad

that mental illness is not something
you can just turn off or on
that these details
are not easy to talk about
and sometimes
I just don't want to

that I shouldn't have to be the one to start
the conversations
with my extended family
but I can always be a part of them
they avoid it
so if I want to talk about it
I have to bring it up
so I don't
until it is too late

how lucky Billy Crystal
seemed to me
although he lost his dad so young
he had some wonderful
fond memories of him
that still made him proud
to this day

I hope my girls
will be like that

I want to make them proud
of me
of themselves
of our family

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Three girls One doctor

it needed to happen
it did
they never wanted to do it
I wanted it

I made an appointment for
all three girls
to go to a psychologist together
the new doctor
because it only seemed fair

Karen has been seeing her
therapist for 3 years now
how did it get to be so long
it has

the new doctor
who I found
by pure luck
started seeing
Bethany and Lucy
while Karen was away

She knows their stories
but she also
knows less history

now that the oldest
has been home
I knew it needed to happen

on the way there
I asked
will you blame everything on me?

My middlest asked
if I really meant it
My littlest asked
if I was just trying to be funny
the oldest
didn't say much
I knew she was scared
they were all going
to "the other" doctor
a new doctor
for her
she was

but I promised her
she would like Dr Black
Dr Black would not
be mean to her
she wanted to get to know her too

back in the car
I still worried
for all of them
what did I do wrong
could I have done
so they would have gotten along
from the beginning of their lives

was I a bad mother
I was still worried
even if I was trying
to make light of the situation

We all sat
in the waiting room
I think we were
all on the same couch
when the doctor came out
she smiled
all the girls
even me
sitting together
probably looking at
an Iphone application
or something
to take our minds
of the seriousness of the evening

they went in together
leaving me alone
in the waiting room
I read my book
I checked my email
I wondered
just what they were saying

would they blame
their daddy
each other
for the situation right now

would I hear screaming
or anything
from the other room

I could only wait

they returned
and smiles
were on all the faces
and they asked
to do this again

apparently it was positive
and they weren't scared to talk
they all spoke
even the littlest
who only likes to make people happy
she didn't just nod
her head and say
"whatever you want"
to her sisters

the funniest thing happened
later that evening

Bethany went to the bathroom
and while she was there
she noticed that
the bathroom
she shares with Lucy
was out of toilet paper

So she screamed at Lucy
to get her some
she pounded on the wall
between their rooms
Lucy screamed back
to tell her to stop
my sweet husband
heard what was going on
and threw some
TP up to the girls

Then Bethany came downstairs
and started complaining
to her father
that it was Karen's fault
there was no TP

the oldest does not share that bathroom
the middlest felt she could blame her

My husband said
good thing
that sister therapy
worked so well

or still
I was
glad I made
another appointment
for them

it seems
there is a lot
of work that needs to be done

At least
Karen could laugh about this one

Monday, November 16, 2009

another good weekend

last friday
the middlest
the one who is into herself
did a very unselfish thing
I took her
along with some friends
to the airport
they met up with some
youth group members
and chaperones
to fly to New Orleans
to help clean up
the city
which is still
in a sad shape
since the hurricane
over 4 years ago

She spent the whole weekend there
painting houses
hearing stories
meeting people
seeing sights
not texting
or emailing
or looking in the mirror

now I did hear
she liked to talk to her friends
but she did get to work
whenever asked
she enjoyed it

during the weekend
Karen went to a coffee house
at her school
she was social
she had fun

Lucy had another
bat mitzvah to attend
My husband and I went too
we will be doing that a lot this year
this time
we felt fine
about leaving Karen alone
she had a good attitude
so that was a strength for us

All of us
got out of the house
all of us
felt good about what we were doing
all of us
were positive
about the experiences
we were having

what more could I ask for right now?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Band Concert

When Karen switched schools
2 years ago
the one thing
that made her want to stay at
was Band

She started Percussion
in 6th grade
she tried out
and made it
her band director
was very supportive of her
she stayed with it
all through middle school
and then started high school
it was a positive in her life
and she enjoyed it
she could read music
it made her feel good

and almost every school
we seriously considered for her
did not have a band program

but the school change
was a necessity
and we couldn't worry about band

I tried to find
extra curricular percussion groups
outside of school
no luck

when she started at Winston
a new Dean of Students started too
somehow he told us he wanted to
start a middle school band
at the school
We told him about Karen's
history with band
so when he did begin
the program
he tapped her to help
she would get music credit
get to play as part of the band
and be an assistant teacher
he was happy
as was she

This year
there are two student bands
the one they started last year
and a new one this year
Karen is the student director of the new band
there are other High School students
who help out with the other band

the school had a performing arts night
the choir
the dance group
and the band
played for the parents
and anyone who wanted to see

I was beaming
my daughter
who for 2 months
was away this year
in a residential treatment center
was the star
of the show
she kept the beat
for all the band songs
even though
there were other high school students helping
it was her bells
or snare
or tambourine
that kept the other students in line
I stood up
thank goodness we were in the back
so I could see her face
her smile
her pride

I couldn't help
but shed a tear
and think how far we have come
from August
that horrible day in August
when she could not control herself
and here
in front of me
and her family
her friends
and people she didn't even know
she controlled herself
so well
and controlled the children
around her
to stay in tune and on beat
to sound
so beautifully together
that the applause
filled the arena
and she was the star
the bright and shining star

she did it
she should feel good
she has worked so hard
to be where she was today
she deserved all the accolades
she deserved to feel the pride
she deserved it all

Sunday, November 8, 2009

wonderful weekend

so many good things to report

1-the Komen 3day
I have walked this amazing event twice
and it is an experience that
seriously can not be explained
in mere words
it is magical
but exhilarating at the same time
I was in the lunch crew last year
and enjoyed that experience just as much
I was giving back
and felt complete
I had signed up
and was planning to do it again this year
with all going on
with my biggest and her treatment
I had to withdraw
but my team captain
let me help out for the first day
I dressed up like the others
and after psyching Karen up
and getting her off to school
late again
some days are tougher than others

I showed up at the site
The magic in the air
the excitement
I helped welcome walkers into lunch
because I was not official
so I couldn't help with food
not really a problem

It ended up being great
I saw a former team mate
I saw old freinds
made new ones
cheered walkers on
made sure the limping ones
got medical attention
It uplifted me
in a way I was not expecting
in this part of my life experience
I have been so focused
on mental health
and mental illness awareness

it did me good to see the signs
the pictures
of the ones whose memories
will never be forgotten
whose lives were lost
to breast cancer
or ones who were still
fighting the battle
and wouldn't give up

it was great to see my old
crew mates from last year
many of them knew my situation
and they welcomed
me with open arms

it just felt good

2-my best friend's son's bar mitzvah weekend

we helped host the shabbat dinner
at the synogogue they attend
not my usual temple
but one that I also love
the rabbi there
is an inspiration
he always speaks so eloquently
and makes the community feel good
I got to read on the bima
in english
thank goodness

I became a bat mitzvah myself
a year ago
but I can't read all hebrew
so that was a relief

my friend's husband
and daughter led most of the service
except for the sermon
that the rabbi preached so well

and when my husband and I got home
we discovered that all 3 girls
had been home
for hours
and there was no fighting

we were thrilled

The next morning
the shabbat
and bar mitzvah service

Lucy and I got there early
he is her friend
very good friend
from life
and camp
so camp friends from out of town
were there too

My husband
middlest and oldest came later
but Karen came
and she dressed nicely
didn't complain
and sat through the service

it was a wonderful

she didn't attend the party that night
but she went out with a friend
like any other teenager
and it made us so happy

the party was amazing
beautifully done
and enjoyed by all

it was a good weekend
one for the books

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Full Days

My oldest has been having a hard time
at school again

we had to back off her days
she was so anxious
she couldn't make it through a whole day
her psychologist
talked to her
and decided
we needed to start from scratch again

I cried in her therapy
did we bring her home too early
should she have stayed longer
to feel more comfortable with herself
she reassured me
she was good there
and this would happen
whenever she left

she was anxious about the school she missed
there were still some classes
she was not caught up in
and she did not like
this unknown

back to the beginning
last week
first day
one class
second day
two classes
adding classes
as only she was comfortable doing

we love her school
whatever we asked for
they did
the head of school
dean of students
was willing to work with us
to help ensure our daughter's
success back at school
I would pick her up
there was one day she had to walk home
because I was somehere
but they allowed it

But it worked
after the school counselor
ended up meeting with her
and most of her teachers
she felt better

The only problem left
was physics
and my husband ended up at that meeting
because I had to be at another meeting
for another child

as much as I try
I can't be in 2 places at once

When the science teacher
discovered she had not had biology yet
he just switched her schedule around
and my husband said
you could see the relief
in her eyes
her shoulders
and her attitude

she is back to full days of school
and she is feeling good about it

We listened
we worked it out with her
the teachers
and the school
and that is what is important

She feels better about herself
and her school
we couldn't ask for anything more

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ron Wolfson

just when I thought I couldn't understand
more about myself
or my family

really not
when I felt
of all the happenings

along comes a rabbi
that we bring to our temple
to discuss
you see
I am the membership chair
and I feel I have done a bad job of that too
just add it to the list
just another thing
that I have not been good at

this Ron Wolfson
I listened to him
at friday night services
talk about
and forgiving
and family

I was in awe
I am hurting so much inside
I felt he could see it

I sat next to him at dinner
he spoke about his family
about his loss
about his kids
and wife
and more

he seems so happy
how can he be
he lost a child
I can't imagine

I was lucky enough to sit next to him
at saturday morning services
my favorite services at our temple
everyone singing
and making the chapel
a magical place

we got to talk about our feelings
our real feelings
not just want we display
when someone asks
"how are you"?

I spoke about
my family situation
and he made me feel strong
reminded me
how I was doing right
by all my children
saving them
from the difficult situations

I felt it was
meant to be
me sitting next to this
great man
he was the one
reminding me
what a great mom
I can be

Monday, October 26, 2009

nothing right

I went to the psychiatrist with Bethany
her psychiatrist
the one she thought she didn't need

But she wanted me to meet with her there
and I felt like a failure
that I had not thought of her
she felt I did not ever think of her

I feel like I can't do right by anyone
I feel like a shitty mom
She reminded me of situations
where she felt like an outsider
where I didn't think of her feelings

It scared me
it reminded me of some situations
with my own mother
which is something else all on its own

But I needed to repair this situation
she is bothered
how unhappy I have been
she worries about me and my own depression
she felt she was taking care of me
when I should have been taking care of her
and she didn't like when
my husband was in charge
when I should have been

How I was different
or I would take too many naps
go to bed
instead of facing things head on
I was weak
in reality
it was just not because of Karen
it was me
my insecurities
my anxieties
my situation with some of my own family members
that I could not even tell her about

I was keeping things from her
or so I thought
but instead
I was keeping myself from her
I thought I was protecting her
she could feel the distance
and it hurt her
she is so sensitive
even though
she is a typical teenager
she acts tough
when everyone is watching
she is just a little girl

She is usually confident
but this whole family
has affected all of us
she is still holding grudges
towards her big sister
and the history between them
I worry every day
that we have made mistakes
with Karen
with all of them
and that I am at fault

my middlest was hurting
she wanted me to know
and I just cried more
I listened
I wanted to fix it
I want to help her to heal
I have made more of a mess of this
instead of sheltering her
I think I pushed her away

I need to fix it
I don't need to keep secrets
I need to be a mother again
for ALL my children

My littlest would never admit
if I made a mistake with her
she worries about hurting other people's feelings

wants to tell the truth
she wants change

and I thank god
she told me now
when I have time
to change my behavior
and let her know
that I care for her so much
that I don't want her to feel this way

I love her to pieces
and I want her to know that
and even with that tough exterior
I need to remember
that soft inside
that needs cuddling
every once in a while

I will keep reminding myself
that I can do
something right
and get something right
for her

Saturday, October 24, 2009

First Homecoming

First time
homecoming dance
for my little Bethany
the freshman
the middlest
often times
has to act like the oldest

I never got Karen ready for homecoming
she did go to the dance
her freshman year
I was walking the Komen 3 day
she went with a group of girls
and one boy
and thought it all was boring

this year
we get to experience the whole thing
Bethany getting her hair done
Bethany getting her make up done
finding the right dress
the right shoes
the right purse

she was asked
by a boy in her grade
a friend
thank goodness
just a friend
she is going in with a group
a HUGE group
of other freshmen
all going to the dance for the first time

I think it was cute
all the boys made sure
that all the girls had dates
they worked it out
so that everyone went with someone

Bethany's date asked her
by giving her a white t-shirt
drawn on with lots of names
she had to wash it
to see which name would still be there
the only one with permanent marker
and  the question
of going to homecoming on it
she already knew
she heard the rumors
who would ask her
but it still was cute

She looked gorgeous
she was smart
she did not wear strapless
she did not need to worry about her dress
falling down all night
she looked sophisticated
in fact Lucy
wanted her to save that
beautiful dress for the bat mitzvah
but Bethany wanted this to be her
first homecoming dress

I was so proud of her
she looked beautiful
and radiant

My sweet husband and I
got to meet her over at the
"point" house
the one where all the couples were meeting
where the limo would pick them up
we had crowds of people
all these parents
taking pictures of the beautiful children

and so many girls
she has grown up with
so many boys too
all of us
watching our babies
grow up before our eyes

My husband and I had to rush home
because Karen was all alone
we have tried to avoid that
she gets sad too easily
but we didn't want
to ruin Bethany's big night
I took lots of pictures
I feel good for her
she is going to enjoy it

I just know it

Thursday, October 22, 2009

funeral for a child

I got the email
late monday
an 18
almost 19 year old girl
walking across campus
she was a daughter of a woman
I walked the Komen 3day with
2 years ago
we stayed in touch
our team was special

her daughter
just gone
she collapsed
from a blood clot
in her leg
that traveled to her lung
just gone

My friend
I could not imagine
how she could be handling this
I "lost" my daughter
for 2 months
but I knew where she was
the whole time
just wanting her to come home
this was totally different
she lost her daughter for good
her only daughter
she had 3 children
an older son
and a younger son
much younger
11 or so
and the saddest thing was
that the day after her death
was the girl's birthday

Today was the funeral
my 3day team went together
we met
walked in together
sat together
cried together
this was something we never could have imagined
we are all different
some are married
some are not
some have children
some do not
but we shared an experience
that can never be explained

we watched our friend walk in the room
the temple was full
as full as it could be
women and men of my age
all looking puzzled
we should never have to be there
we should not have to listen to what
a beautiful child Tracy Fisher was
this did not make sense
the tears were streaming down all the faces
one musical
strong teenage boy
sang and played the guitar
one of Tracy's favorite songs
he was so strong
and I knew he had been distraught
over this situation

I went over to the Fisher house
I sat with my friend
just listening to her
she had spoken to her daughter on sunday night
her daughter wanted to come home for thanksgiving
she was making plane reservations
my friend said the email is still in her inbox
she saw it
after she heard of her daughter's death
she couldn't bring herself to open it
I listened to how happy her daughter had been in college
I had seen so many pictures on facebook
my friend was posting
gorgeous baby pictures of her daughter
with beautiful captions
of what an angel she was
and is now

Even though
I did nothing
I wanted to help
in some way

there was nothing to say
nothing to do
nothing could make that pain go away

I just sat
and listened
to her
and her stories
and wondered
if she would ever be good

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

where did the time go?

she's home
we are trying to make it work
the sisters are getting along
for the most part

I cry much less frequently
she makes it through school
some days
there are times I get calls
when she says
my stomach hurts
my head hurts
I am dizzy
can you come get me?
can I come home?:
I just don't feel well

I know it is not right just to pick her up
I have gone over to the school
to make sure she does what she needs to do
to get by

Some days I feel like I have a toddler
at home again
my days are filled with making sure she is happy
not crying
not whining
with no temper tantrums
it takes all my energy to get her out the door
I make her breakfast
I watch her eat it
I make sure she takes her medicine
I walk her to school
make sure she gets in okay
for the phone to ring
to pick her up
to hear her upset
to listen to the nurse tell me to come get her

it will all take time
it will be worth it
because all that matters now
is that she is home
under our roof
and we can all sleep
knowing we are together

Thursday, October 15, 2009

more doctor visits

all for one
and one for all

I drive all day
to so many places
I sit in offices
reading magazines
waiting for a smile
to greet me
after an emotional appointment

I get scared
what if I did something wrong
what if I am the reason for this behavior in the house
how can 3 teenagers live under one roof
and not explode

With all that has gone on
with Karen
and her long time away from the house
I was preoccupied with that
I was saddened by the events

then with what happened
with Little Lucy
and the difficult time
she had at school
with administrators
and teachers

I forgot about the middle one
She was always busy
doing homework
going out with friends
talking on the phone
texting on the phone
chatting on facebook
or im'ing with someone new

she seemed good
school work was a bit much
she had started high school
and I had met her teachers
but I felt watched
some of those teachers
knew Karen as a freshman
they watched her crumble
and I feared so much
that Bethany would not be like that
I knew she was strong
I felt it
she was showing me
she was strong

but the truth was
she was hurting inside
at her psychologist's appointment
the doctor came out
but told me
that the next session
needed to include me
of course
whatever I need to do for my daughter
my gut hurt
I did something to hurt my little girl
and I sure didn't want to
but she felt it
she was angry
she had vented a lot
the doctor said
so we could wait a week to meet

okay I said
then we got in the car
and a tear rolled down my cheek
please I hoped
don't see this
she will only think of me as weak

she said she didn't want to get into it
but she had explained why
she had yelled at her older sister last weekend
that she was scared
she tried to tell me
she was worried she hadn't changed
and she said I hadn't listened
I was only angry that
she hurt her sister
I didn't think
about her feelings

there was more
she didn't want to get into it
she wanted to wait
she needed time

and I will give it to her
however she wants it
because that is what she deserves
my time
my space
my apologies
my healing
my thinking about her
and only her

I didn't mean to hurt her
but I guess I did

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

trying to make it work...

I never know if I can do it
the three girls
my husband
my extended family

I feel overwhelmed at times
I feel strung out
I want to make them all happy
I need to take care of myself too

when I am worrying about one kid
the other 2 feel left out
with all that has been going on
my middle one
has really been feeling neglected

and for that reason
she reminds me of me

I want help from others
but I never want to ask
I don't want to burden other people
and I feel like a bother
but there are times
when I need it so much
but just don't know how to say it

she has been hurting
she has a lot of anger towards me right now
I want to help her
but she won't let me

she'll yell at me
she'll walk away from me
she'll ask me to drive her somewhere
which sometimes
just pisses me off
why should I drive her
when she won't talk to me

I am being told
this is normal
she is finding her own self
wanting me there for her at times
and other times
not at all

she is "normal"
I know
she is so normal
and she can be so good
but other times
I wonder who she is
I wonder if she cares

one moment
she tells me she is so sad
for me because I am
crying all the time
and then
the next moment
she said she is sick
of me being sad

I am sad
trying to keep it all together
and worried I am
going to break it all apart

I always thought I wanted
an even amount of kids
2 or 4
so there would not be a middle child
I was told
then someone would always be left out
and I never wanted to do that to a child

but g-d and mother nature
laughed at me
and gave me 3 kids
and not just any kids
but 3 girls
3 teenage girls
at the same time

some people laugh at me
like my great aunt
since she did it too
others feel sorry
for me
because they only have 1 girl
and said that was enough for them

but me
I am grateful
because they are beautiful
who I am helping mold
into lovely young people

they may fight with me
yell at me
scream at me
hate me at times
think I am mean
just plain cruel

but they are good people
who care for one another
and for me
and my husband

and at least
with 3 girls
at all times
there is always one
who is nice to me

Saturday, October 10, 2009

First Family Fight

i knew it would happen
one day
just not this soon
oh why
what could I have done

it always starts the same
all three girls
are in the car
and then they fight
over the car radio
and the sad thing is
it is usually the shortest ride of all

over a year ago
after dropping off carpool
Karen got upset with Bethany
we had a 5 min ride home
by the time we got to our house
I could not open the garage
I had to turn around
to go to the ER
because Karen was out of control
Bethany was hysterical too
my husband met me there
and I was just angry
a 5 min ride
all about music

today was the same
after getting ice cream
and after all of us getting the flu mist
of course
my girls don't want shots....
we got in the car to go home
and a silly fight broke out
over the radio
it seemed just so stupid to me
I did what I normally do
I turned the radio off
then there was whining
and blaming
and frustration

Bethany took out her iphone
she just got for her bday
because *I* thought
she deserved something
because of everything
happening at home
and put some music on speaker
I told her to turn it off

when we got in the house
Bethany did it again
Karen asked her to turn it off
Bethany said no
so then Karen got mad and raised her voice
then Bethany
precious middlest
one who has gotten so mature
and has been so good to me
yelled back at her sister
who just returned from
7 weeks of hell
in a residential treatment center
"You didn't change at all"

Oh no she di-n't
the gutteral sobbing
I heard from my oldest
the moans
the hysterical cries
of sadness
were too much to bear
the littlest came running
my husband came running
Karen was lost to us
in a different way
she was hurt
not by hitting
not by pushing
not by a stare
but by a few words
that crushed her soul

I went into mama bear
and got so upset
at my middle one
I couldn't believe she could be so cruel
did she have any idea how much that would hurt her

it was unbearable
I pulled out our family contract
reminded everyone of the words
we wrote together
to help the transistion home

It was emotionally draining
we talked some about it
we all started to calm down
Littlest was leaving to spend the night out
so it was just the 4 of us
my husband
the oldest
and the middlest
for dinner

they decided together
to get sushi
there was a sense of calm
I knew it in my gut
this was the beginning
of a new problem
that would come to haunt us

We needed a hero-letter from psychologist

Here is a copy of the letter from our hero, Dr Melissa Black.  Her continued emotional support, whether by email, phone or in person, inspired us to continue to fight for our little girl.  I know, deep down, this is the reason the changes were made.  Her phone call to the Middle school head was ignored and denied. Even her phone call to the headmaster was not taken as seriously as we all thought.  Given the way he started our discussion.  In seeing this letter, we first noticed a difference in the demeanor of the Headmaster. 

Mr. Scott Griggs

414l SpringValleyRoad

Dear Mr.Griggs:
I am writing this letter at the request of Jeff and Alyson Ray to clarify my thoughts about
the recent situation involving Lucy and the need for schedule adjustments. As I
understand the situation, Lucy felt that she was pressured by not only her history teacher
and the teaching fellow, but also by her advisor to "confess" to cheating. The experience
of being confronted by 3 adults who are all in an authority position was a very negative
experience for Lucy. The most distressing part for her, by far, was feeling that her
advisor was not advocating for her and in fact, in Lucy's experience of the situation, was
joining with the teachers as another accuser. While I was obviously not present and
cannot attest to the actuality of what transpired, what seems most important is Lucy's
perception that she was not protected by her advisor. Whether this is because of a
stylistic approach, a personality conflict or simply a lack of understanding of Lucy's
emotional world at this time is not being debated. What concerns me is that Lucy and her
parents have specifically asked for a change of advisory and a change of language class
to help Lucy feel protected and heard and that this request has been categorically denied.

My thoughts and recommendations are based on my understanding of Lucy's emotional needs at this point in her life. I do understand that for some adolescents there would be considerable merit in "working through" this situation with her advisor. However, I strongly believe this is not the challenge that either Lucy or her family needs to face at this time. Given the entirety of the family situation at this point, it is imperative that Lucy feel she has advocates both at school and at home. Equally important in this situation are Jeff and Alyson's feelings. As parents, we need to feel that we can protect our children and that we give them over to educational environments that are flexible enough to consider our child as an unique individual whose needs may, at times, require certain protocols be adjusted. Lucy appears to be a well liked and engaged adolescent who wants to please the adults in her life. I strongly believe that making the requested changes for Lucy will result in decreased anxiety and increased trust in her educational process.


Melissa Black, Ph.D.

Friday, October 9, 2009

too little, too late

another 8 days
this time too late
a phone call from the supposed
"advocate" of an advisor
for my little girl

thursday evening
over a week after
the horrible accusation
and scenario
we received a voicemail
from the woman
which said
these exact words

" Yes, Alyson and Jeff, this is Pam G, I haven't had a chance to speak with you, and I just wanted to call to let you know that I think that Lucy is a wonderful young lady. I also wanted to assure you that I will do my best this year in working with her, and, uh, I just wanted to reassure you of that. Thanks so much. Bye Bye."

shockingly enough
just that day
she at last spoke to Lucy
alone for the first time
in over a week

my husband and I
thought she was warned
we were going to the big boss man
the headmaster
on friday morning

Friday morning arrives
I am sick to my stomach
what if they don't think about my baby's feelings
what if they decide to keep her in this woman's class
I am practically in tears in the office
My husband explains the family situation
he explains what happened to our eldest
when she was in 9th grade
and had a bad relationship
with her advisor
the year ended horribly
and Karen had to leave the school
we couldn't take that chance again

The headmaster started to talk
and he scared me
he talked about the professionalism
of the team
how they all wanted to work it out
I thought
don't do this
we handed him the letter the psychologist wrote
it was our last chance
for the school to see this
with our daughter's perspective
my husband and I
saw the headmaster's face change
at last
we thought
maybe they will take everything
into consideration

He read the letter
he thought about what we said
and he said he needed time to
think about it
and he would use the weekend
and get back to us on monday
maybe there was a chance

I cried from relief
I cried from exhaustion
I couldn't believe
all that we had to go through
after the position our little girl
had be put in

That day
Karen and I
again spent 45 minutes
playing with the littlest
at school
so she did not have to endure
spanish class with that beast

when Karen and I went to Lucy's locker with her
I saw the middle school head down the hall
he didn't even have the decency to walk past me
I saw him duck into a classroom
apparently he discovered he had done us wrong

The day went on as normal
Karen and I enjoyed each other's company
Bethany came home from school
wanting to get ready for the
night's football game
Lucy stayed after for a carnival

at 6 pm
the headmaster called
I was scared
but I picked up the phone
he said he spoke with the team
and with the administration
and he thought the best answer
was to remove Little Lucy
from spanish class and
that woman's advisory
the ironic piece is that
the only advisory that had room for another child
was none other than
the original accuser of the cheating
neither my husband or I spoke
the headmaster said it was the best he could do
I said
let's meet with him to explain the situation
it was over

Lucy was home from the carnival
we went in to tell her
and she was BEAMING
from ear or ear
poor baby
she had been struggling herself
with anxiety for 9 days
worried for her future
and she is only 12

the funny addendum to this
is that the headmaster said
the middle school head
was going to reach out to us
to repair this relationship
it has been a week now
and not a word has been said
or emailed
or called
in fact
another time this week
I saw him duck
into a classroom
it was the classroom
of the "advisor"
it still was lame

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Back to school

I was so nervous
for my little girl

I admit it
I sent messages
to her friends
on facebook
letting them know she would be coming back

the school hadn't told the kids
what had been going on

when Karen and I went to visit school
the friday before she went back
one kid looked at her
and said
"we thought you died"
it was
a little funny
so we laughed
but I knew
she was still nervous about going back

Since Karen's first day back to school
was the same day as Lucy's new schedule
my husband
and I
had to split up duties

I took the little one
and he took the big one
the middle one
took care of herself

The little one did well
she met her latin teacher
she was excited to see her
new schedule in print
and her friends were happy for her too

when I got home
I wanted to run over to Karen's school
I had emailed the teachers
the headmistress
the nurse
her advisor
anything went wrong
I was just around the corner
I would pick her up

But my husband came home
about the same time as me
he said
at least 3 kids welcomed her back
the teachers were all happy to see her
he had not seen any
awkward conversations
I thought
Some kids
even made a big poster
and signed it for her
to bring home

I waited by the phone
I didn't do much
expecting her not to make the whole day
she did
she came home
so happy
telling stories on friends
really giggling
it was so good to see

she napped that day
and fell asleep early
then woke up so tired
just go half the day today
I told her
she barely made it to lunch
she had pushed herself too hard
that first day

the third day she slept late
had a doctor's appt
and went to school
in the afternoon

by thursday
she was "sad" again
uh oh
she thought all that
had been "fixed"
she was nervous about a couple of classes
she didn't want to go to school

I had her get up
we talked
we called her dad
and then we walked over to school
to speak with the counselor
he listened to her
and she cried
tears of relief
he was going to help her
I reminded her
she doesn't need to do anything alone
we are here to help her

she was used to group therapy
twice a day for 7 weeks
and now she thinks she can
just take care of it alone again
isn't that what caused all this in the first place?

she did start school late that day
and I told her I was around for her again

the next day
she made it
she woke up
she hesitated
she wanted to stay home
but she left
to walk to school

I was exhausted
keeping her upbeat
seeing her smile
was all worth it

Friday, October 2, 2009

not quite over with the little

My husband and I
scheduled a meeting
with the head of middle school
the morning we
were heading back to
to bring Karen home

What a joyous day
we were to have

Finish up the miserable
of the middle school scenario
and go pick up our oldest baby
and bring her home

the moment we walked
into the office
of that head of middle school
we knew
something was not right

he sat down
crossed his arms
and said
that he decided no changes
were necessary
and that he still
felt his teachers had not done
anything wrong

I about hyperventilated
my husband got up to walk out the door
saying that there was nothing left to talk about

stupidly now I realize
thought I could talk
to this man
about my child
about the wrong doings
of 3 adults
on one little 12 year old girl

I spoke to him about
his conversation with the
psychologist who said this change was necessary
he denied ever hearing her say that
I reminded him of how the
advisor of my daughter
took the accused teacher's side
instead of advocating for our little girl
he denied ever hearing that
from Little Lucy
I asked
I may have over reacted
but I left that office
pulled my daughter
from her advisory class
with that witch of an advisor
standing in front of the room
and had Lucy
come back to the Head's office
and recount
her version of the events

he still didn't budge
it was then and there
I lost it
my husband told him that
our relationship with him would never be the same
we had to bring her with us to pick up Karen
we knew we had to get Bethany too
she was pissed
actually both were pissed
Lucy would have to miss a field hockey game
Bethany didn't want to leave school
we told them both
we had no choice
we had to take them

the head of the upper school was lovely
he let me sit in his office while
the tornado and fire drills were going on
I spoke with the psychiatrist while in there
and then
on the way to the airport
my husband and I knew what we had to do
we called the Headmaster of the school
and made an appointment for friday
we did it
we went over the head of the middle school's head
it had to be done
we were sick of playing by "his" rules

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Homeward Bound

the day
september 30th
my husband
the middlest
and the littlest
grandfather's plane
to pick the biggest up
from Merdiell
her residential treatment center

it was just supposed to me
my husband and me
but with all the mess
going on at school
with the little one
we couldn't leave her there
and then we couldn't
just bring her without
the middlest
so we all went to
retrieve Ms Karen

We were so excited
and scared
and happy!

The plane ride seemed so slow
the car trip seemed too long
but we got there
and surprised her
first me and my husband
loads of hugs and kisses
then her sisters
she was so thrilled
until she figured out
that it meant
our meeting didn't go well
whatever we said
the point was
we were all there to bring her home

it was bittersweet to see
Karen say good bye to her friends
at the bunkhouse
some girls actually cried
they all seemed to respect her
and believe in her
and see the leader in her
that we know is there
she just doesn't always see it

I let her sit up front in the car
I needed to keep the two youngest
we didn't need any fights starting

I kept looking at her and smiling
I kept kissing on her
hugging on her
telling her I loved her
I was just so thrilled
when we drove out of the gates
to never return

Not that we don't appreciate what
they did for her
just that we don't want to ever
go through that again

we ate a sweet lunch
with grandfather
we flew home
we drove back home
she walked in the door
and was worried the dog had
forgotten her
he was so happy to see her
even though it did
take him a few minutes to remember her

there were boxes
cookie bouquets
welcoming Karen back home
she was shocked at the attention
she always is
she never sees how good she is
she doesn't see all the
amazing qualities she has

We ate dinner together
we talked at the table
we just stared at one another
still not believing
that we were
once again
a family of five

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I can't believe it has gone on this long
these teachers
this head of the middle school
the assistant head
the learning assistance specialist
the middle school counselor

what is taking them so long
and why are they making my daughter so miserable
it is ridiculous really
do they want to prove a point?
do they want to keep trying to see if we will give up?
do they think we will?

My husband and I are so sick of these games
thank goodness
this psychologist we found
to help the sisters cope
with Karen's leaving
and returning
has been patient
with Lucy about this school situation
she has spoken to
the head of the middle school
she still does not see why he is waiting either
she is telling my husband and I
just to stop
just to tell them
we pay for this school
do right by our child
in our child's best interest
it is all BS
she is such a good kid
and she is so stressed at this point
it is sad to see
a stressed 12 year old
that is one of the signs
you see at Meridell
the residential treatment center
where Karen is

we don't need another patient there
we can't afford to put another patient there
we just want this school
the one where I taught
the one where my husband went to school
the one where we have been parents
and paid for tuition for 12 years
to do the right thing

leaving her the last time

final family therapy
it went so well
too well
we all got along so well
I didn't want to leave my daughter
I bawled like a baby
it still killed me to leave Karen like that

knowing in less than 48 hours
I was going to have the privlege
of signing her out one last time

I would get to bring her home
to OUR home
to her home
the one that has just not been the same without her

I think the dog will be the most excited
he has no clue what is going on
he usually loves to hang out on Karen's bed
he has practically been following me around
her room is empty
the lights are off
I can hardly bring myself to
go in there myself
the dog is even more confused

But, I could do it
I could let her go
ONE last time
only because I now know
it is one last time

she has worked so hard
she has met the challenges
she has faced obstacles
she had to be a leader
she had to get along with peers
she had to share a room
a bathroom
she even had to do laundry
when she remembered
I probably packed her
enough clothes she could go for weeks
I bet she did

I am planning not to leave her side
unless she makes me
for a couple of weeks
I told her she was going to get sick of me
she said no way
I liked that answer
she said she wants to slowly adjust back to school
her school
such a wonderful place
such a warm place
such a welcoming place
told my husband and me
that anything Karen wanted
they would work out

we have kids at 2 schools
and we know
for sure
the other one would never do that
let's not dwell on that school
let's focus on Karen's great school
the best place for her
the best environment for her
one where she feels safe
she feels connected
she feels is the best school
so that
is all that matters

no matter what
leaving her is hard
the first time
I cried so hard on the way home
my husband and I were silent
we were hurting so much
then there was the time
she had one of her
"doozies" of an outburst
her new word
not mine
that we had to leave her
when she was still upset
that made it
extremely hard to leave

At least this time
her smile was beaming
her eyes were shiny
she knew it was less than 48 hours too

I wanted to run back in and grab her
but I had to make it to the car
I had to drive away
but I would come back
I could do it

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yom Kippur

today was yom kippur a jewish holiday
not of celebration
but of observance
and introspection
well it actually began last night
this year though
we are not going to temple
we are not going to services
in fact
we are not fasting

our oldest daughter
our biggest baby
has been in a mental health
residential treatment center
for 7 weeks
we decided to spend time with her
all five of us
the importance of Yom Kippur
is to atone for your sins
to repent for all your wrongdoings
to ask forgiveness to all that you wronged
in the past year
in essence
one is supposed to forgive all others
forget the past
erase the hurts and abuse
and move on
began a new life
a new year
and get sealed in the book of life for another year

during this
holiest of holidays
the 24 hours of yom kippur
one is supposed to fast
not eat and not drink
the whole time
and the reasons vary
some say to punish oneself
some say to not be concerned with
just focus on yourself and no others
to be hungry
to feel pain
I have also heard that it is the closest to death
that you can get
while one in healthy
that is why anyone who is sick
ill or otherwise not capable
is excused from fasting

so yesterday
we picked up our daughter from
her treatment center
and all 5 of us
had dinner together
we laughed
we cried from tears
of laughter or joy
we went back to our hotel room
and made a new treatment plan
for Karen’s return on Wednesday
this Wednesday
so happy
we made goals
for Karen
for her sisters
and her parents
how we will all work together
to start anew
to make this family work
to support one another
to believe in ourselves
and each other
it was a fabulous
that I was amazed to see
come together
after such a short time
when just a few month ago
I never would have though possible
we were experiencing our
own yom kippur
forgiving one another
discussing the wrongs of the past
and figuring out new ways to make things new
creating a new life for all of us
as a family
of five
our family of 5
our perfect
well, not so perfect
but in our own way
our perfectly
imperfect family
just the way it is

so we all laughed
watched tv
and made fun of
daddy falling aleep
on the bed
with his glasses on
and snoring and not waking up
the laughter between the girls
was music to my ears
the smiles on their faces were
stars in my own dark skies
i have had in my head these
last few weeks
I couldn’t get over the fact that
this nightmare
was about to come to an end!

since my husband fell alseep on
Karen’s bed
I was lucky enough to get to sleep with her
I had her body by me all night
I couldn’t stop touching her
she held my hand and talked
about her fears of coming home
and the fear of becoming the person
she used to be that scared us
and herself
I told her that she had the skills and tools
now to have the confidence in herself
that she never had before
that like riding a bike
when she was 5 she would
continually fall off and cry
thinking she would never learn to ride a bike
but now if she fell off
she would just get back on
becaue she knew she could do it
it is similar
she has the knowledge
the power
the coping skills
the patience
the belief in herself
that she can take control
of the situation

this morning
when Bethany said she was not going to eat
she was going to fast
because unlike the rest of us
she was taking this holiday seriously
then I told her the meaning
of the fast that I liked the best
that it is close to death
and then you begin a new life
fresh and clean
with no regrets
I explained to her that
we have experienced a
*death* in the last 7 weeks
we have had the death of our family
we have struggled
we have almost given up hope
we have lost our appetite
we have lost a beloved family member
we are starting a new today
with a new life for our family

nothing can compare to what we
have experienced
but our family therapy appt that morning
was to be the beginning
of our new life
our new family
our new hope
that we could start

our appointment went so well
it was spitual in the way that
a usual Yom Kippur service
would not have been like
to me that day

this was more important than anything else right now
the 5 of us in the room
with the therapist who has helped
our daughter disover her special qualities
that make her so special
and loving
and how she has worked so hard to get where she is
and how we all have suffered so much
without her

I told the story of Yom Kippur
and how special and meaningful it was
that our last family therapy
was on that day
that we all know
but sometimes forget
that the most spiritual
and meaningful jewish moments
don’t need to happen in a temple
they just need to happen in a community
where everyone is aware that G-d
is present and there with us at that moment

Sunday, September 27, 2009

more on my baby

I am so upset for my little one
then I remember there is a counselor

just for the middle school
I know that she and Little Lucy
have a relationship
and that she is aware of the current family situation
I forward the group email to her letting her know
about my little girl
she checks her schedule against my daughter’s
and realizes she has missed the study hall for the day
but she would look for Lucy to give her a hug
and plan a meeting for the next day

I get an itch
an uncomfortable one
while looking at some papers at home
I decide to get up to school early
to go to the learning assistance’s office
the head of school is there (surprise)
they don’t seem too surprised to see me
the door was opened
so I asked the Language therapist if she had gotten
Lucy’s psych evaluation from the Doctor
no she says, not by email
and not by mail
so I tell her I will fax it to her
when I get home

the head askes me to spend some time talking with him
I sat down, the door closed behind me
I felt uncomfortable
being there without my husband
worried I would say something wrong
that I could mess things up somehow
but I smiled
he asked about Karen and her “adventure”
she should be coming home the next week
I almost shouted and said with tears in my eyes
then he talked about Lucy
he reminded me that their policy is
not to discuss a cheating suspicion with a parent first
and he stands behind that
agree to disagree
I still think it is wrong
and he admitted that the teachers reacted wrong
in not contacting me about the discussion
although, in regard to Lucy's emotional meltdown
they aren’t sure that they caused that
they did not feel they accused her
that only she should think about what happened

I said that the advisor also accused my little girl
of cheating in her classroom also
and I don’t like that
the head of the middle school
said all of us are emotional
the teachers
my husband
little Lucy
and himself
we all need to take time
to think about it
before making any rash decisions
that we would regret later
he said he wanted Lucy to have a normal day
the next day
come to school and participate like all the others
oh-would she be able to take that Spanish test?
I said I would have to ask her
it was time for me to leave
I saw my little one and
we started walking to the car
I asked her about the Spanish test
and her response was
"aren’t I switching to Latin?”
uh oh, I thought, this isn’t right
but we are not going back to say this
I tell her all about the conversations
her father and I had with the head of school
she said she was able to avoid both of the teachers
that day
I said she would never get out of history
but from now on
face forward if she needs to
keep her head down
and either she gets a 100
or a zero
or something in between
we don’t care
this is 7th grade history
it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference for getting into college
and then I explained the other situation
she is so smart
she is so sweet
she really gets it
she said
“Oh, so they need to hear
that *I* want the changes
right now all they know is
that you want those changes for me
not that I wanted you to ask for them”
right, my smart child
and we talked about how
important her meeting with the counselor
was going to be
and how using important words
like Need and Trust
should make all the difference in that discussion

Lucy had an appointment with a psychologist that afternoon
to talk about her sister situation
I was worried that Lucy wouldn’t open up
she usually keeps things in
she was concerned of going in alone
she had not met this woman
but the doctor comes to get her
they walk off together
and I don’t see either one for almost an hour
the doctor brings me back
and discusses the irrational behavior
of the teachers
and that Lucy should get a new advisor
and a new language teacher and class
this all was handled wrong
and I was not even in the room
to hear what my little girl had said!

the doctor coach my Littlest
on what words to use when she spoke
with the counselor
how important it was to get her feeling across
to this woman
she got all that just by talking to the student
no parent involvement at all
guess she did deserve that Phd :)

my daughter goes to school like normal
I drop her off
and tell her probably a little less than 100 times
if anything makes you uncomfortable
call me
if you don’t feel good
leave the room
and call me
I am here for you
call me
get someone
to call me for you if you can’t do it
okay mom
I get it
I can call you

I worry
I get home
I got an email back from the learning specialist
she had glanced over the psych report
and little one needs an ILAP
(Individualized learning assistance plan)
so she can have accommodations
due to her dygraphia
and possibly some attention issues
she had to be out of the office that day
but she would work on it over the weekend
and get it to the teachers the next week
then another mom who heard about this situation
told me her daughter told her the whole thing
and their science teacher
that they all were in awe of
noticed Lucy’s twisted paper and seat earlier in the year
asked her if it was normal and she said it was
and he said no big deal and let it go
what a difference just asking a question makes

so I send an email back to the learning assistance specialist
thanking her for her time and proudly offering
this bit of information
I also copied the head of school and the assistant head of school
who had been out of town the whole time this had been going on
I quickly get a return email from the Assistant head
she just found out about it
she would be there if I needed her

the day went on
I emailed the counselor to let her know of the psych eval
and that I was so happy Lucy had her to talk to
and that if Lucy was too upset and did not want to go to spanish
I would pick her up early
I get to school at normal time
see my daughter
and all of her friends who were riding with us
we get in the car
laughing like usual
my husband calls before we are out of the lot
he wants to know about Her and Her meeting
I didn’t really want to talk
with everyone else in the car
we said we’d call back
the friends get out of the car
Lucy has to wait to go inside with them
we call daddy back
she tells us
that the counselor wants her
to make a pro/con list
of all the reasons to change
advisors and to Latin
what-nothing is happening
well, they were going to meet again on Tuesday
my husband and I were meeting with the head
on weds morning
the day we were to go pick
up Karen our big girl,
our biggest baby
from her residential treatment center
so they were not going to ruin that day for us

Lucy got out of the car
I looked at my middlest
and said, so that’s how they want to play
we have to play this silly game
but we are still going to win
we are still going to get what Lucy wants
they just don’t know it yet
they want to wear us out
and more importantly
wear her out
so she won’t care anymore
and she will just want it to go away

we made that mistake 2 years ago
when Karen was in 9th grade
and she had a bad bad horrible
beginning with a new advisor
we made this mistake
and did what the school proposed
they don’t like to make changes
they said the teacher would be understanding and make it work
about 6 months later
we were in the children’s ER with her
with suicide threats
and just wanting to die
because she was so miserable at home because of school
maybe she still would have left the school eventually
but we will never know
and I know I can’t forgive myself
for allowing that to happen to my child
she did not trust that woman again

my husband got back on the computer
he typed up an email to the head
the assistant head
the learning specialist
and the counselor
stating that with
the psych evaluation
the opinions and feelings that Lucy described to the counselor
that another teacher did not find her behavior questionable
when we arrive on weds morning
there needs to be an alternate schedule needs to be
available for our viewing

oddly enough
that night
when taking three 7th grade girls home
from a movie
one girl said that she fell asleep in history class today
and after class
the teacher came over to her and told her not to do that again
the same teacher who accused my daughter of cheating
because she looked around the room
oh good I said
I liked the way he handled that
maybe he learned something

I am sure this is not over
more to come
more to bear
more games to play
we won't give up

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My baby

my youngest

my Littlest
my Lucy
was hot boxed
by 3 teachers
and accused of cheating
on a daily assignment
in class
not a test
not a paper
but some stupid “thing”

and the fact that
there were 3 adults
in the room with her
no parent present
no parent notified
and this happened
2 days
the event

so they thought
this was an appropriate response
take a sweet
innocent 12 year old
in a room
then tell her
that only an admittance
of guilt
would be good for her character
because if she said
she had not cheated
then they would think she was lying
and then they couldn’t trust her again

all she did
was look around the room
during this “assessment”
as she said
she was not in a bubble
she should be allowed to look around
she didn’t even remember who
she was sitting by
they named the girl
and said that Lucy cheated off that girl’s paper
THEN the audacity
of her so-called advisor
said that she sees Lucy look
around the room during her class
this is her advisor
who is supposed to be her advocate
who even knows what is happening
to our family right now
never called me
never emailed me
never tried to contact me about this

the teachers even asked if something was going on at home
well, no duh, really
so she reminded them of the Karen situation
oh yes
they said
they didn’t want to cause more stress
well, they sure did

my poor baby
her eyes were red
she was in a classroom
alone with these 3 teachers
well 2 teachers and an intern
that intern is not learning from the right people
that is for sure

they didn’t let her call me
they just told her to go get cleaned up
for her next class
she went to the bathroom
one of her good friends was there
Lucy told her story
so when they left the bathroom
and Lucy’s eyes were still red
the friend joked saying she
got soap in them
so nobody would question the
red eyes again

my littlest
my youngest
had soccer practice after school
so, after picking her up
dropping off the other girls
from the carpool
by the time I heard
this actual
awful story
it was 6:00
way past time to call the school
and long past any time
that they could have contacted me
and warned me what they did to her
where does all this come from
attacking a child
an innocent
12 year old girl
one month into school
no parent involvement
if you haven’t been able to tell yet
i am an involved parent
(don’t get me started on
being a “normal mother”)

so, I sent an email

to the 3 teachers
and a copy to the head
of the middle school
where my daughter goes
where I think she is safe
where I trust them with her life

i say that I am livid
i say I am shocked that 3 teachers cornered my daughter
threatening her character
and without my knowledge
or without warning me of her demise

then my dear husband
called the 4 and left
calm, rational
but intense voicemails
requesting return calls

we decided our daughter would go
to school late the next day
and not spend her first
15 minutes in advisory
and I would pick her up early
to avoid the test in Spanish
given by this evil woman
driving my little one to school
i tell her that her father and I were most upset
with the advisor
she is the one who is to be our child’s advocate
and she is the one who knows this situation
and she is the one who has known our family for 11 years
almost as long as Lucy has been born
long enough to know that we had good deaughters
who had never been trouble to anyone
we were most disappointed in her behavior
and how she did not keep our little one safe

i took little Lucy in late
she happened to see
the 2 main teachers
in the Admin’s office
she said her advisor looked mad
i said "good"
i left her
knowing that these teachers were in the office
and she was safe in her next class

and I waited for what would happen next...

later on

i got a phone call from the head of school
i asked to conference in my husband
but he couldn’t figure out the system
(wonder what that means)
i called my husband on the land line
and out my cell on speaker
the 3 of us could speak to and hear each other

the head of school says that it is policy to approach
a student if a teacher thinks cheating is involved
and a parent is never contacted
okay, I don’t have to like the policy
or agree with it
but it happened
what about after the event
oh, they handled that wrong
he tells me
and he is sorry for that

but, he spoke with these teachers
and they didn’t feel that they cornered her
or threatened her
or accuse her of cheating
or that she would never be trusted
And her character would be judged the rest of the year
And that only a guilty verdict would be believed
They thought they told her to think about it
and they would hear back

he backs his teachers up
i give him that
it is his job
and he said that the advisor
is there to help with a situation
but I reminded him
she did not
she sided with the other teacher
that was not a help at all to our child.
it just made the situation worse

he said that these teachers have been doing this a long time
and they just know when a child is cheating
we asked him if they had seen her sit sideways before
if any other teacher had commented on it in years past
my husband asked if the head of school had seen the
psychological evaluation with the dysgraphia diagnosis
the head of school said they had talked about all of that
with the learning assistance specialist
my husband reiterated
that we wanted our daughter
out of this teachers advisory
and out of her class
that our daughter would start
a new language and start new
with all students in their first year of this language

that head of school
said we were over reacting
he said maybe that Lucy wanted to continue Spanish
no we told him
he said that maybe just switching this language class
would change her entire schedule
he said that maybe Lucy wanted to stay with her friends
in her advisory class
we told him all those things did not matter to her
she wants to be somewhere else
we want her in a class where she feels safe
where she can trust the teacher
and where she feels validated

he did not agree with us
but he would weigh the options
fine, agree to disagree
but we knew what we wanted
and we knew it would happen


Thursday, September 24, 2009


so yesterday

there was a botched terrorist bombing
at my husband’s office

I heard about it last night
that is when I assumed it had happened
silly me
tonight he told me it was at 10 am
the day before
while he was there at work
on the phone
with me and the head of the middle school
ugh, don’t get me started on that

but he was there
some Jordanian 19 year old dumbass
who now lives in Italy Texas
loaded up a van with
dirt, which he thought was fertilizer
like Timothy McVeigh
that the FBI had been working with him
for months and planned this with him
he drove that van
into my husband’s office building
into the bank parking
and park in the guest parking I use whenever I visit
he had pulled out the parking ticket
just like I do
he had parked the car
just like I do
but he walked out of the parking garage to the street
unlike me
I usually that take the elevator up to the top floor

this man
jack ass
shit for brains
has a cell phone to
"detonate” the truck of shit
he is to place a call on this cell phone
to a special number which will detonate
this bomb
and kill all the innocent
people of this building
my husband included
because there is a Wells Fargo
mortgage banking office there
woo hoo
like he would be taking down the whole national bank chain

well when he dials the phone
he actually was calling the FBI
so they knew he tried to detonate
and they could arrest him
they did
and kept all of this a secret
the building security did not know it was going on
the local police did not know it was going on
nobody but the 3 FBI officers
and then the swat teams
and the reporters
and the news
and the media
but not until 5:00
when most of the offices were closed
and people like my husband were long gone

my husband hears the news after 10 pm
from friends who saw it on the news
we laugh it off
we can hardly believe it

so, when I heard the news tonight
that he was there while this was happening
I immediately felt like a bad wife
I just let him go to work this morning
like I always do
I was not worried for his safety
and other people were

then he found out more info
as the day went on
that it had happened at 10 am the day before
he was there
but the FBI kept it a secret
they wanted to have all the information
before they made it public
they didn’t want to notify the building
finding out about the incident
before all the details were known
I am guessing
and assuming
(a thinking error I know)
that one reason may have been
to get all the occupants out
before the story unfolds
so there is not a mad rush out of the building
and then someone does get hurt

I thought
what would I do
if something were to happen to him
if we were on the phone
and all of a sudden
just gone

I would pick up my girls
we would pack only the necessities
and move
to a small town
near a beach
or near the mountains
or near nature
not just some shopping mall

we would open a fashion store for my middlest
she could work there and know what to buy
we would sponsor all my littlest sports teams
because she always wants to be part of a team
she runs up and down the field, court, tracks smiling
and in this shop
we would have a coffee shop
where music would play
and Karen would be in charge of that
and have guitar song sessions at night
where we could serve wine
and that would make me happy

I would miss some things
well, my husband of course,
I would miss the starbucks coffee I like to buy
already made, instead of doing it myself
I would miss being able to run into a
jumbo grocery store and buy a week’s or possibly
a month’s worth of supplies in a matter of minutes

but I wouldn’t miss the traffic
the city shit
the gossip
the construction
the highways
the snobs
the stares, glares and looks of others judging
I wouldn’t miss the stress

the constant anxiety
the lack of sleep
the worries of bills from a large house
or a private school
the guilt parties
the pity parties
the fundraising parties
that can be fun, or can be a beating

what would I miss
besides sleeping next to a snoring man the rest of my life
(and I do mean that in a good way, I would much rather have him there
snoring than not having him beside me at all)
my friends

my wine could tide me over for a bit
maybe I wouldn’t need the xanax to help me sleep
or any of the other drugs
for headaches or other hurts

but friends
to laugh with
to cry with
to tell funny stories with
to have wine with
to have too much wine with
and need a ride home
to have too many apple martinis
and barf on a sidewalk café
at one of those Starbucks that I would miss

to gripe to
to listen to
whose smiles could make me smile
whose laughter can make me want to pee in my pants
whose heartbreak is my heartbreak
whose sorrows I will cry with
and who victories I would celebrate with
and whose divorces I would dance about

as much as I would want to make a life easier for my children
I don’t know if I could make mine so lonely