The bus’s horn was honking as it pulled up. Not a good sign. I walked towards it as quickly as I dare walk in slopes. The bus aide was emerging with her hand extended to guide J. “Did you get a call about him hitting his head? (I shook my head as I bounced the last few steps between us.) He hit his head! So-and-so said he hit his head….coming out of the bathroom? (The question mark floating at the end of this made me nervous.) He’s been holding it all the way home. (As if on cue, J stepped out and, while one hand covered the forehead, the other grabbed mine and led it to the bump. The words Oh, holy crap! formed in my brain.) There might be a note??? (Again with the question mark.)” I took J by the arm and steered him to the side of the driveway so I could look at the goose-egg that protruded from his forehead.
Walking and searching his backpack was the next course of action, all while calmly hyperventilating (yes, there IS such a thing, thank you.) Nothing. Not a note, not a scrap of paper, not a “call me maybe.” While imbuing J with a sense of calm I was not feeling, I steered our steps towards home and handed him the keys so he could, as he usually does, open the door and follow the daily routine.
Once inside, I simultaneously took out his iPad, turned it on, texted his teacher, grabbed a ziploc bag, filled it with ice, handed it to J, checked for phone messages and inspected the large, soft, angry red lump in the middle of his forehead. IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS FOREHEAD! J usually hits himself one the sides, where his fists naturally fall… I ran to the phone, found the number for one of his aides, and dialed…
She answered, and I said “hi, Mindy (that’s not really her name, but it’s the first thing I thought to type.) This is J’s mom!” Oh, yes, she said…I’m at the salon. I just sat down. I’m having my hair done. I can’t talk right now. (You’re kidding, right? I don’t care! I sound distressed. Can’t you hear that I sound distressed????) “Um, were you at school today?” She sounded so blasé about it that I figured maybe she’d taken a day off. I mean, really, a parent of a child who was sent home with a lump and no note calls and you react like that so it has to be that you know nothing about it. Now I felt like an idiot… Yes. I’m at the salon. I just sat down. I’m having my hair done. The next thing that came to mind was really you’re fucking kidding me, aren’t you, but instead I said “all I need to know is how this bump happened? Did he fall? Did he trip? Did he have a seizure? Did he faint? Did he hit himself? Oh, he hit himself. I have to go. I really just sat down and I’m having my hair done. I’ll try to call you later.
“What happened, J??? Why did you hit yourself? In the middle of your forehead????” J looked at me, ziploc bag firmly pressed against the bump, and said THANK YOU. “No, THANK YOU will not do!” I got the iPad and went to the Proloquo2Go. GOOD MORNING. “No, GOOD MORNING’s not going to cut it either.” I DON’T FEEL WELL. “Ok, that’s more like it…let’s check you.” His temp was running a little high, his throat looked a little irritated, he looked tired, but otherwise he was fine so, no, no excuse for hitting himself in the middle of the forehead. I took a picture of his bump (his huge, red, angry-looking bump) and sent his teacher another text message explaining that I needed to know what had happened or I wouldn’t be able to address this properly. I also said “there are better ways of responding to a concerned parent than blowing them off because you’re at the salon.”
Within ten minutes she called me, and was tremendously apologetic for not calling sooner. Another parent, apparently, had got to her first.
J had been in the classroom next door, as scheduled, and she couldn’t get a straight story on how the bump came to be. The way she heard it was “two aides, one walked away, then the other, then he hit himself, then the teacher in charge said, but I don’t have a copy of the BIP so I didn’t know what to do…”
I lost it. I admit I lost it. I prefaced losing it with “this is not about you so I apologize for the rant,” and then I lost it. When I was done (and some of it, sadly, was a little profane) she agreed with me and suggested that I write a note and send it to the administration. And I did…
It was four pages long.
I felt like Helen Hunt in As Good As It Gets when she’s writing her rambling letter of gratitude to Jack Nicholson.
This was it, in a nutshell:
There is no excuse for not letting me know what happened. The argument that you didn’t have a piece of paper with the BIP on it is not acceptable. I need a clarification of events so that I can help J work through whatever caused this, whether its behavioral, medical or happenstance. That I have been left trying to extract information from an individual whose ability to communicate is severely impaired by his disability is atrocious and disappointing. I expect an explanation.
Imagine, please, the Tolstoy-like curlicues that took up four pages to say that nutshell. It was epic. I’m sure I’m going from “nice Mrs. J’s mom who is so cool” to “that horrible bitch” in one fell swoop. I don’t care.
I care even less since, while talking to J’s teacher this morning…she was telling me it has now come out that J banged his head against the wall during a tantrum. BANGED HIS HEAD AGAINST A WALL! He hadn’t really done that in years; he hasn’t really done that since he’s been on the Risperidone! This gets worse and worse, doesn’t it??? How can you NOT know how to intervene with that???? Luckily he was wearing his hats when it happened. I was beside myself, wondering how you can not know that this is HUGE!!!!
And then… I overheard her having a brief conversation with the so-and-so (a name that I couldn’t remember yesterday, but that wasn’t any of the names of staff that I know,) and told her “THAT is the person who told the bus aide that he’d been hurt!!!!”
It was, you see, a STUDENT who told the bus aide who then told me…
Do you now see where I’m coming from with this?????