Parent teacher conferences at Seth’s preschool. We are new to town. I don’t have a local emergency contact person. We’ve only been here a couple of months and it’s all I can do to tend to my two children. One with autism. I don’t get to “do coffee” or hang out with the other preschool moms, chit chatting away, making friends and emergency contacts. I’m busy with doctor appointments, and therapies, and making every morsel my family eats from scratch in order to follow The Specific Carb Diet to a T. I don’t know it yet, but my health is about to take a dive. Adrenal fatigue. Thyroid.
I don’t have anyone to leave my kids with for this 20 minute conference. But the conference is essential. Mandatory. I noted previously the secretary’s office has a train table, a basket of toys and books. I’m sure it will be alright. I’ll be just down the hall. They play nice together. Nothing should set Riley off here.
The secretary says, “Yes, yes of course! They are darling! Look at them!” I let out my breath. I never ask for help. I hate asking for help. But she’s so gracious. I get a lump in my throat.
Seth’s teachers love him. They say he’s a doll. In and out. No dilly-dallying. I’m on my way.
Back in the office, the director is there. She takes me aside and in no uncertain terms tells me this is not a daycare. I can’t be leaving my kids with the secretary. She has work to do. If she lets me do this, then everyone will do this, and no work will get done.
I feel punched in the stomach. I have just moved here. I don’t know anyone. No emergency contact. I moved here for my older child who has autism. I am trying so hard. I am buckling with the strain of the last few years.
I asked for help, one time. For twenty minutes.
Tears welled in my eyes and I willed myself not to cry. I didn’t cry. I wouldn’t look at her. I took each child by the hand and walked briskly down the hall.
She approached me the next day. She felt terrible. Wanted me to assuage her guilt. I couldn’t get on her bad side. For Seth. He deserved some normalcy in his life. I was polite.
This is autism.