I don’t know if I ever mentioned this, but Chickadee’s therapist had the AUDACITY to go have a baby, leaving us therapist-less for a couple of months. I mean, there are back-up staff available in the event of an emergency. I’m not sure what would constitute an emergency, really. If she burned the house down? Or held up a fellow second-grader with a pair of safety scissors? Threw her brother down the stairs? Started reading cheesy romance novels?
So, every now and then something happens and I’m left wondering if we’re Having An Issue or if it’s just coincidence or I’m overreacting or what. Like, say, right now.
Chickadee wears glasses, and has for the past six years. She has bent countless pairs and required new nosepads, now and then, but has never actually BUSTED a pair of frames before.
Saturday I got a call at 8 in the morning that Chickadee had broken her glasses, and could they come over and pick up her spare pair? Setting aside my delight at having been woken so early on my one day out of fourteen to sleep in, I asked what had happened and my ex said he wasn’t sure, she was just sitting there and they sort of fell apart. Ummmm… okay. They came over and picked up her spare pair, which by the way is a brand new pair she’s never worn. We got a second cheapie set the last time, just to have on hand for such a case as this.
[Side note: I have a little vase of roses sitting on the kitchen table now, which was not there when the kids left on Friday night. Chickadee was VERY interested in where those might have come from and why and from whom. Simultaneously my ex became very interested in something fascinating on his shoe. And I was suddenly filled with great concern that they would be late! For class! So they should HURRY UP AND GO! So then they left and I was alone with my pretty, pretty roses and no pesky questions.]
This morning I got a phone call around 10:00 from the school nurse. I firmly believe that right after “Hello Mrs. Lastname, this is the school nurse” should come the phrase “YOUR CHILD IS FINE” because a better mother than me would probably panic that their kid had a broken bone or ebola or something. (Me, my stomach immediately clenches with the fear that I will be asked to retrieve a puking child. I dread The Puke.) Anyway, it took her three or four sentences to get to the “Chickadee is fine” part, so I was already annoyed with her. And then she said, “Chickadee seems to have broken her glasses.”
“But… she already broke her glasses,” I said, stupidly. “That’s her spare pair.”
“Yes, um, well, these have been broken.” She tried to break it to me gently, but it needed to be said.
“But those are her spares. The others are broken already.” I was a broken record of denial. Maybe if I said these things often enough, she would tell me it was all just a big misunderstanding! Like, maybe she MEANT to say that Chickadee had a FEVER, but she’d accidentally said she broke her glasses! Hahaha! We could have a good laugh together!
“She did mention that this was her spare pair. One of the arm pieces snapped off. She seems quite contrite.” Alright, no sense in arguing further. The glasses are broken. Move on.
“Okay… well… I obviously can’t bring her another pair. Do you need me to do something?” I may not have sounded quite as doting and longsuffering as I really am, at that point.
“No, not really. I just wanted to let you know.” There was sympathy in her voice. Whether for me (on the hook for another pair or two of “enjoy the sights now because your vision correction is eating your college fund”) or for Chickadee (could she tell what I was fantasizing about doing?) I cannot say, but I think it’s nice that she showed some emotion.
“Oh. Uh, okay. Thanks for calling.” I hung up and looked at the phone. She’d worn that pair for less than 2 days. I hadn’t asked how they’d been broken. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided that I was being a terrible mother, suspecting that it may not have been an accident. That second pair had been a model frame; maybe they had a preexisting weakness. It could happen to anyone.
When I arrived to pick the kids up this afternoon, Monkey ran up to me and asked if I had any bottle caps. (He no longer says “Hello” or indeed, nearly anything else, besides asking for bottle caps. He’s collecting them. And we’re not talking interesting-looking, exotic caps. We’re talking plastic twist-offs from bottle of water or soda. He is obsessed, and I am frightened.) Chickadee said, “I didn’t mean to.”
“I know that, honey,” I assured her, squeezing her shoulders and privately congratulating myself on being such a solicitious parent.
“I hit my head on the shelf, and they just snapped,” she continued. “It was an accident. It’s not my fault!”
“Sweetie, that’s why they’re called accidents. They’re no one’s fault. I’m not angry with you.”
“Cuz I didn’t do it on purpose,” she insisted. Now I was losing my warm and fuzzy feelings.
“May I see your glasses, please?” I held out my hand and she rummaged around in her backpack. Eventually she produced the frames sans one arm. “Where’s the other piece?” She dug around some more. Then I checked her bag. And we determined that she’d lost the arm piece.
Which means that they cannot be fixed.
I drove home with a little black cloud over my head. I still don’t know if they were broken on purpose (maybe, maybe not), or whether she lost the piece on purpose (possible, but this is a child who would lose her head if it wasn’t attached, so not necessarily). Fortunately, the original pair has been temporarily mended so we’ll go back to those. But I’m still left wondering what exactly happened, here.
After I’d gotten the kids through the evening routine and tucked into bed, I was puttering around when the phone rang. Chickadee’s been selected for a math enrichment thing (this I knew, already) at school, but it turns out that the person who was supposed to teach for her class has had to withdraw. So the coordinator was wondering if I would be willing to run the session?
I have no idea how I ended up getting this phone call, whether she’d thrown all of the parents’ names into a hat and pulled mine, whether the teacher suggested me, what. No idea. And on the one hand, a big part of my decision to work from home was predicated on the desire to be available to volunteer at school and such. I have the flexibility to do this.
On the other hand, I immediately flashed back to when I’d been hand-picked at my last engineering job to be part of the Future Scientists and Engineers of America team and go teach middle schoolers how to make rubber-band cars and such. There are all sorts of studies that show that even girls who are “scientifically inclined” are very likely to turn away from science and math once they get to middle school. Perhaps it conflicts with passing notes and wondering if boys like them. I’m not sure. So although FSEA is for all kids, they’re very interested in getting girls into the program. And as such, they prefer for their leaders to include at least one female.
Guess who was the only female on her team that year?
So, I joined up with FSEA even though I hate math with a fiery passion and probably wouldn’t have been caught dead participating in such a group as a kid, and I was supposed to be the role model for the young girls in the program. Look at me! I’m a female engineer! Girls can dig science! And have technical careers! And do exactly what men do!
The only problem was, I was pregnant with Chickadee at the time, and eventually had to, you know, leave to go give birth and let the resulting human dangle from my breasts for the next several months. So pretty much the message I sent was: Math and science are great and you can do anything you want to, but please excuse me while I go have this baby and maybe bake a pie. I’m sure the FSEA folks were really pleased with my participation.
Anyway, now I was being invited to run a unit on math enrichment, which could be my chance to totally redeem myself! We discussed it (I had to make sure none of it was going to be too hard for me, dontcha know) and I agreed to come teach. Because that’s what a good mom would do. And because of the five children from Chickadee’s class who were selected to participate, she’s the only girl. (I find that quite depressing, actually.)
Or maybe I just want to keep an eye on my kid and her glasses.