I started to write yesterday and got distracted. Yesterday would have been David’s birthday. It is so strange to me to realize that there are very few people who would think about or remember the day. It continues to amaze me how the circle of memory has shrunk and there is no possibility that our family will grow in any way and more people will sit round a table one day and drink celebratory wine and eat home made cake for his natal day.
Today, I am not sad about this, although I was a bit yesterday. Rather, it is a perplexing fact of life, of my life, of the life I now live.
Email to Julia’s teacher:
Julia told me that she had a "problem" in school today. She told me that she got angry at Mrs. Stork because she (Julia) wanted to be left alone and it was time to work on something, perhaps reading, with the class. Julia said that when she got angry, she called Mrs. Stork an "idiot" but did not hit or yell. She told me she was sent to room 208 to calm down and after she calmed down she went back to her class and worked. She said that this was the first time this year that she needed to leave her classroom. She said she had a hard time apologizing but that she knew that she hurt Mrs. Stork's feelings. She says that she will try to do better tomorrow and we talked about how she needs to work with her class whenever her teachers want her to.
So, I wanted to check with you and find out how much of that is true and/or accurate. It was in the front of her mind when i picked her up. She was ready to talk about it as soon as I asked about her day and told me many more details than she used to. She is genuinely remorseful, although she feels very strongly that she wants to spend more time alone. If you have any ideas on how I can support her teachers, please let me know. Does she get time to be alone in school? I understand if you are trying to limit that kind of time -- she needs to work towards class time and participation -- I'd like to be able to talk about this at home but I need to know what you are working towards.
I'm also sorry that she calls people "idiot." It is not a term that I use, but she has heard it in too many kids' movies and she usually has the angry, sarcastic inflection down perfectly. From what Julia has told me, there was a good deal of name calling when she was in China, and she reaches for the worst word she knows when she is angry. She used to call us names in Chinese when she first came home. We never knew what they meant but the inflection was unmistakeable. If you think that I should address some way of extinguishing name calling, I can talk to her therapists.
It also sounded like Julia got angry, calmed down, and was okay during the rest of the day. I was wondering if that was true. And I haven't even asked about behavior, but I would like to know how that is going. Is anger and behavior part of every day? And also, how difficult are transitions?
I am two days back from my first Quest retreat. It was my first weekend away from Julia since David died. I left Julia with Comella who was her senior therapist last year and who has since become a friend. Her weekend was full of her usual appointments although they did not go to church. Instead, they went out to eat, went to the zoo, and visited with Comella’s family. Julia even read a bedtime story for a younger child at that younger child’s request. Comella told me about that and then yesterday, after Julia forgave me for leaving her for the weekend, she told me. She was pretty happy about being asked to read.
We had an ambivalent reunion on Sunday afternoon and she kept me at a bit of a distance until Tuesday morning. It was a very stepped down version of how she acted a few months after she came home and I went back to work in Chicago. After we did strong sitting on Tuesday, she told me how much she missed me. And that was sweet.
I was a bit of a mess before I left for the retreat. Physically anxious which was a rather new reaction for me. I had arranged to carpool with someone to the retreat, and then at the last minute, I cancelled because I needed to drive myself. Control! Not just my kid’s obsession. Mostly I needed to have access to my own transportation whenever I needed it. Comella texted me each night and sent a picture which was a really good anchor for me. Quest participants were supposed to give up all electronic devices -- contact with the outside world -- other than emergency, but it was fine for me to have this little crutch.
The retreat itself was pretty wonderful and two days home, I am wondering how I can incorporate some of what I am learning into my every-day life. The peace, intensity, quiet time, writing time, sense of wonder and depth of soul living. And this was only the first retreat. Well, I didn’t learn all of that. What I got was a taste of an altered life and I see it as having a good deal of value for me at this time.