Friday, November 27, 2009

2009 Turkey Chase

Our day was full of turkey chase, and not one bit of race. Now for that we are most thankful! Oh . . . how does one chase a turkey? Well, there are a few methods:

We hope your Thanksgivings are full of blessings! We love and miss you all. xxxx

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gabby Fleming's Day Off

Last Tuesday Gabby went in for her surgery: new ear tubes; eyetubes that will increase the size and efficacy of her tearducts; and sinus work. She was in surgery for three hours.

Gab was a champ from the get-go, charming all of her doctors and nurses along they way, ready for her big adventure. We have been blessed almost 100% of her life with very warm medical professionals, and she gives them love back, expecting only the best from each next one she meets. She is a dream patient. And although, well, who wants surgery? in some odd way waiting rooms provide us an opportunity for special one-on-one times to draw and snuggle and just be. (There is something to be learned here, right?) For anesthesia, Gabby put the mask on her own face to show them how Jack does his nebulizer, and then I got to tell her a story -- a little meditation -- to send her off on a bubble-gum scented adventure.

Her ENT says he should charge extra, her left ear was so difficult to manage getting glue out of, much less a tube into, and her eardrum is misshapen, so that is a challenge. The eye doc had a similar problem - really small portals! And only three tearducts instead of four! His job is to lace the tube up through her eyelids and down through her nose to provide proper drainage. I have some sport shoes with knots I should send him. I am truly in awe of these people. Back to the ENT, he shrunk her turbinates in her sinuses so there will be more room there as well.

One week later, Gab is healing nicely, certainly hearing better, and talking more. The surgery was Tuesday and she returned to school on Friday. Amazing.

But that's not the best part of the story. The best part was how missed she was at school. Her aide said by the end of the day (on Tuesday) the adults were all calling her Ferris Bueller, because rumors and concerns of her whereabouts had escalated into myth among the students. MInd you, there are over 600 kids in this school. Poor Kit, I walked her home from school on Wednesday, her backpack full of cards from Gabby's friends and our ears full of two fifth graders who had entirely too much to say about surgery. She just rolled her eyes and trudged on. I got one email from a mom of a boy in her class who needed to know before he went to bed if she was ok. The next day she sent this message:

". . . When I was in the car yesterday with Eric, he told me he missed Gabby. He then told me some children at Wyngate had formed a "Gabby fan club" and that yesterday it became the "we miss Gabby club" and he joined the club. "

The "cards" - - scraps of white paper with markers, obviously not teacher-directed, thank goodness -- are so beautiful, telling how they felt she was so brave, and wishing her well, and that they missed her. Ava signed "Love, your only best friend, Ava." (That child is getting a little territorial these days!) Gabby could read them, too! Over and over, she read them out loud to us. Even Jack's preschool teacher who has kids at Wyngate, not in Gabby's class, said her daughter came home concerned because Gabby was not on the playground on Tuesday - -and did she know why?

Of course, as a parent I am touched, but when I look at this with my outsider's eyes, my teacher eyes, I am most moved to see how these kids regard her - - and I am so proud of them. What truly beautiful souls they are to care for her so purely. We are so blessed by them. Now the challenge is for Gabby to learn how to give it all back, in whatever way she can. In return for the cards, I suggested she make a Thank You card. She took a huge pice of paper and traced the letters of "Thank You " that I had written for her. The rest was on her own. She made a hand turkey (which she has just figured out how to do and can't stop doing. We have turkeys everywhere! ) Among a sea of sticker choices, she chose heart stickers and kid-face stickers, so I know she gets this. She certainly values her friends, anyway. A nurse gave her a stuffed bear in the hospital; she wasn't too excited about it, and left it with me. But when the nurse strapped a big, red id tag on her wrist declaring her allergic to Augmentin, she got downright giddy about that big capital A. To every doctor who checked it she gave a knowing smile, and said "Ava."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Greetings from Cloud #8

This past Saturday, Wyngate Elementary had a sock hop, and true to this community's mode d'emploi, it was sweet, good clean fun. Just the girls and I went. We walked there with the neighbors.The gym was hot and loud. The dj was crowded by a wall of 8-10-year-old girls screaming at that pitch that girls scream at. Young boys were sliding and running around the floor. Kit hooked up (literally) with a few friends right away. They linked their glow-stick necklaces and made a glowing rope, and wound their way in and out of the crowd for about an hour of endless fun. Gabby surveyed all of it pretty quickly, sat on the floor, then headed out the door. She wanted air and the PTA snack table full of goodies. More than that, she wanted to go home.

I chalked it up to the overstimulating environment and wrangled her along as we reentered the gym so I could get my coat. I mean, it was a pretty obnoxious atmosphere (and could not by definition be any other way). Then Ava (Gabby's self-appointed best friend) appeared out of nowhere, grabbed Gabby by both hands and leaned into her face, speaking so clearly and excitedly, ""C'mon Gabby! Let's dance!" . . and off they went.

I learned a lot about Gabby right then. What she minded was not seeing a friend right away. She didn't mind the noise or the heat or the darkness or the swirling disco lights. In fact, she and Ava loved them, and pointed at them and danced and jumped and smiled and got soaked with sweat for over an hour. I was disappointed when Ava told me her mom wasn't there--someone had brought her-- because this is the kind of thing a parent should see: the purity of your child. They danced in a big embrace during the "mother and son" dance (to Louis Armstrong's "It's a Wonderful World," in case I wasn't teary enough already).

Gabby always has been loved and accepted, and has always had friends. I just know, as kids get older and the activities get more complicated and the expectations greater, that pure friendships will be more difficult to come by. We are in a good place right now. The reason we moved her along to second grade was because of the relationships she had built with that group of kids. They get her, they genuinely like her, and they help her to learn how to be a kid in school. But these moments, when there is no pressure, when everyone has a free choice about what they want to do and with whom, can you blame me for experiencing an overwhelming feeling of relief and joy?

At the end of the night when my neighbor and I were herding our cats to leave, and I still had Ava with us, I asked where the adult was that she had come with. Then out of the blue appeared a mom to claim her. She offered a hand to introduce herself, and I said "Hi! I'm Christine, Gabby's Mom," feeling as though if I was wearing the tiara at this prom. She offered her name as well, adding, "I'm Sara's mom."

And then I saw it all.

There was Sarah. And where had Ava been all night?

And how could I ever have seen Gabby on this side of the fence? It is a totally new view that I will have to remember to consider.

(Gabby and Ava, on her left in red.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Our New Assignment

Baghdad. September 2010. For one year.

We knew it was coming, but you still can't prepare for how it is going to feel when you get that news.