Only In

I want to leave, permanently.

When reality has nothing beyond piles of housework and fighting children, their susceptible health worsened by the toxic temperament you seep with-

When a positive attitude is a mask, crafted by sugared substance and numbed emotions-

When the events you look forward to must, inevitably, include your offspring or some expensive caregiver-

When your soulmate shutters his heart against the pain of association, and says you are only darkness-

Only in the Mind of Depression is it logical to stand at the top-post railing of Life and contemplate the sweet possibility of permanently leaving.

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Entry

The Gift of a Child with Behavioral Problems

Guess what? I have a present for you; aren’t you excited? Open your womb and pull it out!

It’s a boy!
(Or, a girl. For me, I can only make boys).
He looks just like both of you! You look at each other fondly. Tiredly, but happily; proudly.

The best part of this present, though, is yet to be opened for a few years. You may not notice for a while, because no child is perfect. Every time an issue arises, or you feel frustrated, commiserating people say, “That’s just normal.”

But, where are those comments when you sit across from a preschool director and hear about your son defiantly looking right at his teachers as he pushes a child off the play equipment?

What do they say when his first grade planner has notes from the teacher of escalating issues? Notes like, “He threw a chair,” “He was biting.”

Only Pavlov’s dog empathizes with the increased heart rate and anxiety your body undergoes when you see the school calling again.
You can’t go far; the school might be calling.

You know, secretly, that you’ve actually produced a monster. In fact, an applicable example in classical literature is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

A great side benefit? Teachers, administrators, and doctors keep hinting -and outright telling you- that the problem is you.

You already know you were the root problem, if you birthed the child. You already blame yourself whenever he misbehaves, since your grassroots efforts of parenting don’t produce robot responses from your children.

It’s all true, though: you made the monster. And, as his parents, you will always be the ones who will need to fight for him.

You’re going to be embarrassed, frustrated, deeply saddened, angry, ignorant, and human. You’re going to do the wrong thing, and smack yourself figuratively for “triggering” the behaviors.

You’ll wonder how this ungainly bird could ever be expected to leave the nest without leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

Cry. Get angry. Eat chocolate.
Then, find a good pediatrician. Find a good therapist. Find people to complain to. Find the free resources out there for others like you.

You’ll have to start using those over-used terms. You know -the ones you rolled your eyes about: ADD, ADHD, ODD, Autism, Sensory Disorder.
Embrace them. They’ll be your new excuse, now that you can’t use “normal” to describe childhood behavior.

This is one of those gifts like a free car: the car may be free, but the taxes, licensing, and insurance are not. You’re going to have to do more than unwrap.

You’re going to have to be an expert parent.

Dang it.

If You Give the Kids an Order

If you tell your children to get dressed, you will probably find them half- and wholly-naked and playing with toys. If you tell them to pick up the toys, they will realize their brother is downstairs racing his cars on the floors. They will throw their toys over the railing and join him.

Once you threaten to put all playthings underfoot in the garbage, the children will most likely announce they are hungry. Right. Then.

When you suggest breakfast, the only capable one will think it’s a good time to make crêpes.

When he is elbow-deep in flour, egg, and milk; his brother will dump out a board game and the toilet-training boy will get The Look. The children will also need syrup, fruit, sugar, meat, cheese, and utensils set on the table with their plates.

It’s just a good thing they didn’t get dressed yet, or their clothes would have gotten sticky from the crêpes.

Inspector Mère

“Now let me get this straight,” Inspector Mère drawled, as she extracted a pencil and notepad from an inside pocket. “You say you were nowhere near the accused at the time?”

She peered down at the small man, her left ear raising as her left eyebrow lifted in a questioning expression. She pursed her lips and waited.

“Well, no, I didn’t say I wasn’t by him. I said he came up to me when I was working, and then he shoved me down and said I took his Lego piece.” Imploring eyes raised to Mère’s face, innocence emanating from the diminutive body.

“Hmmm,” Mère supplied. She made a note. “So, you were near the accused, yet you did nothing to provoke him?” The question wrote itself across her features yet again.

The accuser paused to consider. “Ye-e-e-es,” he slowly replied.

“Mmm-hmm,” the inspector noted aloud, as her pencil noted her observations on her pad. Scratch, scratch, scratch, it said.

“Thank you for your testimony. You may be dismissed,” she finally instructed, to excuse the fidgeting youth. He stopped kicking his own toes and ran out of the room.

“Next, please,” she announced to the door he had exited through. Another young man came in, adjusting his clothes and face.

“And, what testimony can you provide?” Inspector Mère inquired. On her paper, she wrote Accused, and underlined it. Then she stuck the end of the pencil barely between her lips and studied his face intently.

“I was playing downstairs and saw that he,” the accused paused, to point toward the open door, “That he had messed up my sets again. I came upstairs to talk to him, and he smiled at me and wouldn’t show me what was in his pocket.” He took a deep breath, then continued with, “And he stuck his tongue out at me.”

“I did not!” Piped a voice from the hall.

“Did so!” Retorted the youth in front of her.

“That’s enough,” Mère loudly stated, across their continued volley of accusations. An uncomfortable cease-fire silence fell. She looked at the accused, closely. He seemed to be intently working on a neutral facial expression.

“So, your statement reads that you attempted conversation with your accuser, that he refused to show you evidence, and that he mocked you.” The inspector looked at his face as she read and wrote, ensuring that all information was correct and met his approval.

He considered, then nodded.

“Accuser, please return. It is time for my report and judgment,” Mère called.

The first young man sidled back inside the room, evidently from a waiting place just outside the doorway. He walked forward hopefully, confidently. He stopped and stood near the other youth, just beyond his arm’s reach.

“I have listened to both accounts of the incident, and have made my decision,” Inspector Mère began. “Since descriptions varied, I have no choice but to assume error with each.”

The boys began complaining immediately; but she held up a hand, and a stern face. The noise eventually quieted; mutinous expressions waited for her to continue.

“Eric,” Mère addressed the accuser, “You were innocently working, then were physically assaulted by the accused.” She studied young Eric, who appeared slightly confused. “You were not doing anything, and Tom pushed you,” she translated, tapping the pencil against the open notepad. Eric’s face cleared and he nodded. Tom’s face clouded.

“Tom,” Mère turned to the accused, “You uncovered evidence of property damage, sought restitution, and were denied.” She studied her notes, then added, “And were insulted with a rude facial gesture.” Raising her gaze past the paper to meet Tom’s gaze, she was met with his somewhat suspicious nod.

“Therefore, Eric, you are instructed to turn out your pockets.” Inspector Mère said abruptly to the first boy. Surprised into action, he reached into the pockets of his jeans. Making an unreadable expression; he withdrew a blue rubber band, gum wrapper, half a plastic army man, two pennies, a smooth garden pebble, and two red Lego bricks attached by a blue hinge piece.

“That’s mine!” Exploded from Tom, who shot a hand out to take the Legos immediately. Mère was forced to intercede, stepping forward between them and retrieving the pieces herself.

“The evidence speaks, Eric,” she told Eric reprovingly. Lacking the sense to appear guilty, Eric pouted a glare in response.

“Now, Tom,” Mère said to the other, depositing three Legos into his hand, “You are required, by law, to make verbal restitution for injuring a family member.” She looked expectantly at Tom, waiting. Behind her back, Eric imitated her countenance, including the same raised eyebrows.

It was Eric’s turn to glower. He gladly did so, till he caught Inspector Mère’s eye. He looked down. “Sorry,” he mumbled to his hands.

Mère studied one child, then the other. “Both parties may be excused, on the condition that each promises to adhere to family guidelines of behavior,” she instructed to each disgruntled face. Quietly, tensely, the boys broke away and returned to their previous tasks.

Inspector Mère sighed, closed the notepad, and pocketed it with her pencil.

“Case closed,” she declared.

Today, I cried.

Today, I cried.

I cried after yelling -the sort of yelling that you know a parent shouldn’t do. There may have been jumping up and down.

Before that, I made waffles. See? If you’re an optimist, there was the positive you sought in this story.

Last night, I stayed up late coughing. The black death of all colds has finally stricken -a belated present from my husband. He’s still keeping part of it, actually. It’s been two weeks for him.

I don’t cry much, usually. I remove myself from thoughts or feelings. I need to not think, to not notice the wearing away. I cannot show emotion, or those little boundary-pushers walk all over me.

But, I’m tired. I’m sick. I’m sad.

“I’m sorry, Mom.” They all look concerned. They all want to hug me and comfort me. I think they need stoicism; they also need empathy.

It’s okay to cry.

Cognitive Creation

“What?!”

Dr. Baerkaler cleared his throat professionally. “I said,” he repeated slowly, “That is a common side effect when you’ve lost some parts of your brain.”

I felt dizzy, and tired. I felt like I’d just given birth, for Pete’s sake. The doctor wasn’t making much sense. I’d lost some parts of my brain?

I looked down at the snoozing head of my newborn son. “Could you explain what you just said in more detail?” I managed. Surely, this would have been a chapter in that What to Expect book.

The doctor settled onto a guest chair and assumed his cheerful, patient, bedside manner tone. “You’ve just given birth,” He began. He met my gaze, so I nodded. Smiling, he went on, “It’s a major strain on the mother’s body to make and deliver a healthy baby.” Dr. Baerkaler paused, obviously so that I could process such a long sentence. I nodded again.

“As the baby develops inside of you, your nervous systems -pieces of your processing abilities and memory storing capacities- are used up by this process.” He looked at me cheerfully, despite my now-blank face.

“What?!” I managed, again.

Searching the ceiling briefly for inspiration, he looked back at me and slowly summarized, “You lose normal brain functions and forget things when your body is making a baby.”

I blinked. “Seriously?”

“Why, yes,” Dr. Baerkaler answered immediately. He sounded surprised that I wouldn’t know this. “And, now that you’ve delivered, a sizeable amount of functionality is gone.” He laughed a bit, in commiseration. “Surely, you’ve noticed it’s been draining out, so to speak, over the last eight months.”

I shook my head gently, in shock. “No, I hadn’t.” I said, nearly crying.

“Oh,” he supplied. “I suppose that would make sense, too.” He stood, and offered a slight, inadequately comforting squeeze to my shoulder. Bringing his medical tablet to his chest, he turned to leave.

“Is it permanent?” I timidly asked his back.

Pausing at the beige hanging curtain, he looked over his shoulder at me. I felt small, helpless, and dumb; a disheveled, ignorant mother swaddled untidily amidst thin hospital blankets.

Perhaps sensing my distress, Dr. Baerkaler smiled a reassuring doctor smile.

“Oh, don’t worry,” he said. “You won’t be needing your brain for a while anyway.”

Dear Son

Dear Son,

I try to love you, but you make it difficult. I see love as soft affection, listening considerately to my advice, and respecting my intelligence.

I get calls and e-mails home from school about concerns parents have for their children who play with you. When I ask you about what happened; you respond with complete ignorance, offended honor, or adamant disagreement.

Your instructors ask me what I recommend for working with you. If I knew, don’t you think I’d tell? Sometimes I ask you. You laugh and say, “I don’t know!”

I will keep trying, because you are my son. I hope that you will grow out of many of these things so that you will be successful in life and have the many friends you love to play with.

Love,
Mom

————————————-

Dear Mom,

I try to love you, but you push me away. I like to hug you really tight so you can see how strong I am and how much I love you! I see love as giving me what makes me happy, surprising me with fun games or treats or fun places to go, and agreeing with me when it’s my brothers’ fault!

Sometimes the teachers don’t listen to me. I try to tell them that I accidentally bumped his head or meant to just throw snow at his coat and not down inside it. That one time, it was really my friend who pushed her down, but she thought it was me. I usually don’t remember, because we’re having fun.

My teachers move my peg down when we’re still talking and they get to “1” counting down. Can I make a chart for home with pegs? Then you can move my peg up or down and I can have computer time.

When I grow up, I want to be a computer programmer like Dad and work with him and eat lunch with him. I will buy a house on this street so I can visit you.

I love you Mom,
Charlie

A Day in the Life

Some days my nails keep breaking,
As I lose hair strand by strand;
And the vitamins I’m taking
Can’t be opened just by hand.

Sometimes I sweep and mop the tile,
Get dinner on the table,
Then ruefully watch ev’ry child
Drop as much as he is able.

Somehow the same pants surface
Ev’ry time I sort the clothes.
They’ve yet to be in service,
But round and round they goes.

Somewhere beyond the drywall
There’s life; there’s something more:
There are shining floors and people.
I run away! -to the grocery store.

Herculesa

Herculesa bravely clutches at her last weapon -the Libman of Justice- as she eyes the dangerous Hydra plodding menacingly toward her.

Whack! A purposeful sweep draws the vicious head of Dirty Tile Floors off its base. Swish! Returns the Laundry head to its origins. Clunk! And the Dishes is decapitated.

But, as we all remember, Hydra Housework cannot be defeated so easily. From the supposed stumps of completion, new branches sprout and grow full size. Floor splits into Carpets, Windows, and Toilets; Laundry spawns Sock Mating, Bedding, Repair; Dishes makes more and more Dishes!

Our heroine is surrounded as she stumbles back on loose Hot Wheels and plush animals. Bravely she strikes again and again!

How will Herculesa ever vanquish this unconquerable beast? There is no permanent end in sight!