At the top o’ this St. Patrick’s Day morn, our house could easily have been confused with a scene straight out of the new NBC show Parenthood.
There was me, bleary-eyed and pajama’ed and barefoot, shuffling into the garage for a few replacement rolls of toilet paper. There was my multi-tasking husband, up since 5 a.m., short-order cooking the kids’ regularly scheduled breakfast special of chocolate chip pancakes while answering work emails on his BlackBerry.
There was Betty, having a few moments of solitude away from her brother by watching TV. There was Boo, on the sofa, reading a biography of John F. Kennedy and asking if I knew what page the author wrote about “the convertible.” (My sleep-deprived, insomniac’ed, admittedly tasteless reply at 5:45 a.m.: “I’d imagine it might be towards the end.”)
Upstairs, I showered; upon getting dressed, I was greeted by The Husband.
“I think Boo’s sick,” he announced. “He doesn’t want breakfast.” (Highly unusual.) “Says his stomach hurts.” (Boo is a literal kinda kid; he almost doesn’t know how to lie.) “His color is off.” (Current reigning Mother of the Year that I am, I didn’t notice.)
“Hey, Boo?” I said, approaching my little presidential historian. “You feeling OK?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
“Well,” I tried again. “Do you feel sick?”
“I don’t know.”
“How’s your stomach?”
“Not too good.”
“Maybe we need to think about staying home?”
That got his attention. “NO!!!!! I’LL LOSE MY PERFECT ATTENDANCE!!!!”
He was clearly getting agitated, worried that this would set back his record. He’d gotten Perfect Attendance in 1st grade, and unbelievably, his streak continues into 2nd.
“I know that’s important to you, pal,” I said. “But what’s more important, perfect attendance or being healthy?”
“BOTH OF THEM!!!!!!!!!!!” Boo shrieked.
“Listen,” I tried again. “If you don’t get the award, maybe they will have an award for just missing one day. Or we could celebrate as a family.”
The end result was keeping Boo home from Before School Care, and making a game time decision when school started. No sooner did we get him calmed down from that when Betty had a crisis of her own.
“Oh … my God,” she announced dramatically. “It’s St. Patrick’s Day and I’m. NOT. WEARING. GREEN!!!!!!”
She was, however, wearing her coat and was literally headed out the door with The Husband, en route to Before School Care.
“I need to wear something green!”
“Honey,” I said, “What you need is to get going. Plus, I’m not sure you own anything that’s green.”
“AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!” she howled. “Do you know what this means??!!!”
Um … that it’s hard to find anything green when your entire wardrobe consists of various hues of pink?
“It means that WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A DESTROYED HOUSE TOMORROW!!!!!!!!” Betty hollered.
We stared. Looked at each other and at her.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“If you don’t wear GREEEEEEEEEENNNNNNNNN on Saint Patrick’s Day, a LEPRECHAUN will come in the NIGHT and …and … DESTROY OUR HOUSE!!!!!”
“A leprechaun is not going to destroy our house,” reasoned The Husband.
“HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT????”
“I’ve never heard of leprechauns being malicious,” I offered.
“Will you just humor her and go see if she happens to own anything green, please?” The Husband asked me.
“C’mon, Betty,” I said. “Let’s just see if there’s anything green in your closet.”
I found a turquoise .. ish green top. “How about this? It’s close to green. Plus, it has sequins!” I smiled broadly, enthusiastically.
“Those sequins FALL OFF!” she shrieked.
“Well, we certainly can’t have that on top of leprechauns destroying the house,” I acknowledged. “You’re going to have to wear what you’re wearing, and that’s it.”
“ARRRGGHHHHHH!!!! Not fair!!!!”
Meanwhile, over breakfast Boo was still back in 1963, immersed in the details of the John F. Kennedy assassination (maybe angry leprechauns had a hand in that too?) While texting my boss to say I would be in late after taking Boo to school, I began Googling “leprechauns destroying houses” and “wrath of the leprechaun.” Satisfied with the dearth of information on such a phenomenon, I turned my attention back to Boo, whose color had returned and was miraculously back to his regularly scheduled self.
Unfamiliar with the morning drop-off protocol at school, I was clueless as to what time school even started. And heaven forbid we be more than a nanosecond late and jeopardize the Perfect Attendance record.
I pulled up to the curb of the school, kneeling down to face Boo on the sidewalk.
“Do you want me to walk into school with you?” I asked.
“No, I can do it,” he answered.
For a moment, I was taken aback, caught off guard. “Really? You sure?”
“OK, then,” I said, giving him a hug and accepting his lopsided one in return. “You have a great day. I love you!”
He walked then, my boy, striding across the wide driveway entrance to the school, his backpack slung over his shoulders, the crossing guard guiding his steps. Something told me to watch him, to pay attention, because suddenly I realized that this vision of my boy walking into school by himself was something I’d never seen before. I’m usually a state away by now, I thought, lingering a moment in the drop off lane.
And not only was it something I never saw before, but it was one of taking-your-breath-away moments of a time that I never thought I would see, my little boy on the spectrum, with his labels, with his struggles.
My little perfect attendanced leprechaun, on a quest for his pot o’ gold stars at the end of his rainbowed spectrum.
photo taken by me, 4/3/2009, of a rainbow that appeared after the wackiest weather that coincided with my 40th birthday.
Thanks for sharing this post!