The issue of homework comes to a head, as I knew it would. It is tangential to the subject at hand, as I sit in the psychiatrist’s office. We brainstorm the matter. This is both a comforting and disappointing exercise. It is comforting because it reassures me that the psychiatrist is down to earth. He is no fool. He demonstrates a masterful command of the all the hic-cups. He lists each strategy in turn, adjusted for the dynamics of three small children where two are autistic. At the same time, it is a disappointment because I have tried each an every one of them to no avail. The only one I have not technically tried, is the idea to bribe someone to come into my home and help one child with their homework. I have not tried this technique for the pure and simple reason that I cannot find a victim to bribe. He concludes, as I have done, that matters will improve given time.
At the same time, my daughter’s teacher offers the carrot of the ‘after school homework club’ for her. It’s on campus in the library which in America is called a media centre, because it houses materials other than books. This is a tremendous bonus. This means that I will only have two autistic children to coach through their homework. Only two wiggly squiggly squirming screamers. What a boon! There is of course, a down side.
The downside is that we will need to return to school one hour later to collect her. Returning to school means persuading the boys to get back into the hated car. It could take as much as an hour to achieve such persuasion at that time of the day, a thoroughly bad time of the day. I will not spend an hour with two wiggly squiggly squirming homework screamers. Instead I will spend an hour with two wiggly squiggly squirming screamers who will not get into the car AND no homework will be completed.
But there is an upside, a saving grace. When I eventually manage to return to the school, instead of having to remove the boys from the car and take them to the Media centre to collect her, I merely have to park the car at the allotted spot until they spot my arrival and send her out to me. Can you imagine how truly delightful it is to skip four entire transitions? Yes four! One to extract them from the car, one to get them into the media centre, then one out of the media centre and then one back into the car! Be still my beating heart!
The car doors close on my snotty screamers. They have no shoes on, but they won’t need them to collect their sister. They do wear some clothes, just enough so that should anyone be unwise enough to sneak a peek, they will only be rewarded with the odd shoulder here and there and probably far too much thigh. They each clutch Pokemons in their clammy little hands, as the rule of ‘no toys in the car’ has been temporarily suspended. Toys in the car are basically missiles and projectiles to torment the chauffeur.
I turn on the CD and pray quietly. I remember just in the nick of time to go via the public library so that I can use the ‘hole in the wall,’ book drop facility, before I need to take out a mortgage to pay off the fines. I’ll pick up the ones I’ve reserved on line another day, a day when I am without children, dash inside the entrance to the shelf by the door, grab the pile for auto check out and skedaddle back to the car.
I hear my tummy grumble but I ignore it. I can feel that one side of my stomach lining is sticking to the other side. I notice the little orange light on the dashboard, which tells me that I have one and a half thimblefuls of petrol in the tank. I grab an emergency bottle of Ensure and glug it down. If we grind to a halt at least I will have enough energy to walk somewhere, possibly. I have some vague recall of drinking from ‘open containers’ whilst driving, or is that empty vessels? Now I shall be had up by the police for drinking and driving. I will sue Ensure and their cohorts because I really am an American. Why can’t they put more calories in their dinky little bottles?
I pull into the curbside at school, hop out of the car and assume the position and demeanour of a respectable mother. I lean back against the car as it rocks. Why aren’t cars sound proofed? I adopt a casual air just in case anyone is watching. I find it hard to maintain a casual air as my back bounces off the car at frequent intervals. How can I look innocent prior to the arrival of the Highway Patrol as they come to cart me away? Please will some come and lock me up? I see her head pop out of the media centre door followed quite quickly by the rest of her. She staggers towards me under the weight of two backpacks, the one she forgot on Friday and the substitute she took today. I hug her whilst we are still outside the car to protect her for the maelstrom inside the car. “How did you get on dear? What did you think of homework club? Did you manage to finish all your homework?” “Er no.” “No?” “No.” “What none of it?” “Um …..no I didn’t do any of it.” Unfortunately I think aloud, “how can you be in a library for a whole hour and not get any of your homework done? What on earth were you doing in there?” “Reading.” It is testament to my ever weaker hold on reality that I have forgotten that some people go inside libraries and once there, they read. A random number of ever moving aliens