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It’s Raining Cats and Dogs — and Control Freaks

posted Wednesday February 20th, 2013

She might have been on time, if not for the umbrella.

Rather, the lack thereof.

Here’s the thing. We live in Phoenix. We have no need for umbrellas. Even on the rare rainy day, it’s not like you’d actually walk down the street to get to your destination — instead, we race a few feet from the house to the car, from the car to the school/office/grocery store/mall. Anyhow, umbrellas are a pain in the ass — they get wet, they break, they never open or close when you need them to. Mine never do, anyway. I’m lucky I live in a place where you really don’t ever need to actually zip a jacket — I can never get that to happen, either.

Sophie has no appreciation for my lack of coordination — or really, for much of anything else when she’s on a tear, as she was this morning. Mornings are tough. No matter how early we get up, no matter how much I plan ahead with bribes, outfits laid out, lunches pre-made, she manages to push me — and the clock — to the very limit.

I’m pretty good at staying within that limit, but this morning I didn’t account for the rain.

I say I’m pretty good. Actually, I kind of suck. I am a control freak. When met with another control freak, I — well, I freak. After many years I’ve realized that doesn’t work well with Sophie. When she gets it in her head that she’s in charge, yelling doesn’t work. I’ve found that distracting her with a joke or a game (“Let’s see who can get dressed first!”) can do the trick sometimes. But more and more, she’s onto me.

I can’t blame her. I get it. One recent morning, we had a particularly trying time getting out the door. Sophie pushed and pushed til my buttons were thoroughly pressed and we were both exhausted. We drove to school in silence, pulling up just as the bell rang. I turned around and sighed.

“I love you, Sophie,” I said. “That was a tough morning. Try to have a better day, okay?”

She shook her fist at me, grudgingly told me she loved me, too, then opened the car door and got out. Suddenly, she was no longer in charge.

It takes Sophie longer to get out than most kids, and not because she’s balking. She’s tiny, and though she’s well-trained by years of physical therapy, she’s still not well-coordinated. She climbed out of her booster seat, wrestled on her backpack, and with a heave, closed the car door, then walked slowly toward the playground, as other kids hustled by to get to class.

From the rearview mirror, I saw one of Sophie’s friends approach. Saw Sophie spot the friend. Saw the friend spot Sophie. And saw the friend continue at her much faster pace. Sophie started to run, trying to catch up. The friend turned to look, then kept going.

It was a glimpse into Sophie’s world — a world where she can’t quite keep up. Where she has friends, sometimes, and where she has times where she has to trudge to class on her own. A world where it’s hard to be in control.

Since that morning, I’ve tried to be more understanding when Sophie makes it clear she wants to be in control. And so even though we were both still in our pajamas with half an hour to go before school, this morning I sat patiently on the couch while she performed an impromptu play called “Sisters,” which involved two sisters, a game of badminton, and a few details I didn’t catch. I managed to get us both dressed (and get her glasses on, thyroid medicine taken, hair brushed — sort of) but we got in a tussle when, 5 minutes before the school bell, she was still busy on the Wii, creating a Mii for her homeroom teacher.

Still, I swear we would have gotten there on time if it hadn’t been for the umbrella.  When she saw it was raining, Sophie demanded an umbrella. I handed her a raincoat with a hood, explained she didn’t have far to go, that I didn’t have an umbrella for her.  She stomped her foot, announcing she wouldn’t go to school umbrella-less. I wanted to shake her, pick her up and toss her in the car, yell. Something. Instead, I sat on the edge of the bed and reasoned with her, pulled the hood slowly over her head. Made it a game.

“I’m sorry, Mom,” Sophie muttered as we pulled up to the deserted school yard after the bell. I got as close to the office as I could, preparing to race out of the car and hustle her in. To be totally honest, it was a time where an umbrella really would have come in handy.

Before I could open my own door, Sophie’s opened and out of nowhere, there was her wonderful aide. Holding a giant umbrella.

It was the smallest gesture. And the biggest.

The three of us grinned at one another, the aide expertly juggled that umbrella as she took Sophie’s bag and her lunch — and her hand. Sophie hopped out of the car and into her day.

“I love you Mom!” she called out, before I could say it first.

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Tags: Filed under: Down syndrome by Amysilverman

6 Responses to “It’s Raining Cats and Dogs — and Control Freaks”

  1. Oh that made me tear up for a number of reasons. How I know those mornings…and evenings…and weekends….

  2. This post was both reassuring and discouraging at the same time. Your mornings are SO like our mornings (my guy is 6 and in kindergarten) and I hate who I become in those moments. The morning rush is when it is clearer than ever that giving birth to a child with special needs does NOT automatically result in superhuman patience. The best I can do right now is to strive for more days where I can coax him into a game than those days where I lose it and haul his 40 lbs where I need him to be.

    No matter how fraught the morning, P always gives me his cheeky grin, a hug and an I love you mom before I leave him to go about his kindergarten business.

  3. sigh.. mornings. The only thing that helps us is a strict, little changing structure. Kayli loves to try to bring some object of any kind that she comes across to school. And I refuse to have her be a gatherer you know? Because I know it may not stop at just one object, it may grow! It’s my battle line and sometimes a battle it is…

  4. oh lisa, i know the gatherer thing all too well!!! i wish i’d kept a running list of things sophie’s tried to take (or actually gotten away with taken) to school since kindergarten. it would be pretty funny/horrifying.

  5. If you do buckle under the pressure to get an umbrella for the 2 times a year it might be nice in the Phoenix area…go with a clear bubble umbrella (they have them at Target).

  6. LOL- my 6 year old is the gatherer in our home. Somehow that sounds better than sharing hoarder. Since she was in her 4 year old class I would have to empty out her cubby and it’s plethora of acorns, rocks, sticks, broken pieces of plastic, beads, dirty hairbows belonging to people outside our family, shells, candy. Her playground is sand and considering her “fashionista” choices in dress she pretty much just needs a metal detector to complete her look most days. Prior to 4k, the cubbies were up too high for her to reach so I had to be extra careful with her pants, dress and jacket pockets, or else our dryer paid the price. Since moving into elementary school I’m surprised she can carry her backpack for how loaded down it is with “her treasures”.

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