When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

May 21, 2010


August 2008

May 21, 2010.  Peter ambled toward the car after school yesterday, shoulders drooped and head hung low.  He looked as pitiful as our little dog Pippin, who’s fallen into a deep depression over the recent installation of an Invisible Fence.  On the way home, with Sophie and her friend Alexis chatting happily, I look in the rearview mirror and ask what’s wrong. To make a long story short, Peter’s in love, big time, with the prettiest girl in class and maybe in the whole school, excepting of course, our Sophie.  But now his best friend is jealous, I couldn’t get the particulars, but what matters is Peter thinks he’s lost his best buddy and the girl who’s stolen his 8-year old heart.  I assure him these kinds of problems tend to work themselves out but when we get home he asks if he can call “his girlfriend”.  So we look in the school directory but he doesn’t know her last name even though they’ve spent the school year together in the same class.  We nonetheless arrive on a probable identification and I dial the number.  Bingo!  He’s standing next to me and I swear I can see his little heart pounding.  He doesn’t know what to say, so I coach him along, in the faintest whisper, like Cyrano De Bergerac.  The girl, whose voice I hear because Peter’s so close, is obviously a winner, as beautiful on the inside as she is to the visible world.  When my poor son’s nerves can’t take another second, he yells into the phone “I like you!” and nearly throws it at me as he retreats across the room.  I quickly hit the disconnect button and rush to make sure Peter has not in fact fainted.  His color returning, his eyes lit with amazement, I find him all smiles. “She’s not mad, Mommy!”  With any luck, he’ll patch things over with his buddy today too.  Those few moments with my son yesterday, alone in the kitchen, makes all the horror of the last few months, as well as the colossal crusade to reclaim Peter’s heart, mind and soul, which began on October 25, 2004 and may never truly end, more than worth the toll.  I realize I may not feel that way tomorrow, much less next year, our crises never seem to end as one curve ball after the next is thrown our way, but for now I’m content.  My beautiful boy is love struck!  There’s nothing more normal, more typical, or more precious than that.  Not even the certified letter that arrived earlier in the day could trump this good feeling, though it took work to resist the urge.  From CPS, the letter is written to inform us (me) of the time, date, and the exact allegations made by my mystery (ha!) school accuser.  This information had the potential of seriously upsetting me, except for the fact that my son’s in love and I know the case has been closed and the file expunged, as there was not a shred of evidence.  But this letter contains a good deal of unsettling information nonetheless.  To begin, the complaint wasn’t filed against Pat and me, only me.  Second, it says nothing about making Peter do chores when he wets, which is what the investigator told us was the basis for the complaint.  I can only surmise that when he interviewed my school accuser, and actually asked what evidence she had to support her allegations, the chores business was all she could think to say that didn’t constitute a complete fabrication.  I’m further concluding that the investigator, who indeed seems to be the kind of man we as parents and taxpayers actually want in this kind of position, didn’t wish to upset me at the time any more than necessary.  And maybe he was right.  The actual wording used, obviously uttered with great disdain and little restraint, truly does indicate an unbalanced mind and a diseased heart, and truly is upsetting.  Here’s the narrative of the call: “The mother is excessive in her corporal punishment of Peter (8).  Peter has medical issues which cause him to be incontinent.  When Peter experiences incontinence the mother has beaten him up, including striking him in the head with excessive force.  The mother has also thrown objects, including a book bag, at Peter.  It is unknown if Peter has sustained marks or other injuries.  Peter is frightened of the mother.  The roles of the other individuals listed in this report are unknown.”  And there’s more.  In terms of safety factors, she further alleges: “Caretaker [that’s me – I guess my nemesis doesn’t consider me Peter’s “real” mother] is violent and appears out of control.  Child is afraid of or extremely uncomfortable around people living in or frequenting the home.”  The other people who live in or frequent our home are Pat, Sophie, Grandma and Lindy.  Now we know my accuser’s always had it out for Lindy and what she considers her ABA/VB hocus pocus, and I can see how she would view Pat as being malignant since he’s married to me, but Sophie?  As a 7-year old second grader, surely she deserves immunity.  Plus, she’s really cute.  And what about poor Grandma?  Although at 85 she can run through an amazing litany of naughty Sicilian hand gestures if we beg her and she’s feeling particularly puckish, I doubt the spectacle ever has traumatized Peter.  Seriously, I just have to laugh.  I have to find humor in my life so that I can continue to bear these petty assaults that nonetheless have the potential to devastate.  Next month we go to hearing over the school district’s refusal to place Peter in an appropriate school program.  We’re claiming, in part, that the school has become a hostile environment for both Peter and us.  If this nonsense over the last few months does not meet the legal threshold for a “hostile environment”, then I may as well hang up my hat, both as a lawyer and mom.  But that’s a month away.  Right now, this mom-slash-caretaker is reveling in her son’s miserable happiness.  It seems love still blooms at times, even in hostile environments.

10 Comments »

  1. What a lovely, sweet and heart warming post. Thank you for sharing the good times too. Aren’t you wonderful for helping him call her and isn’t she a sweet girl for being receptive.

    As for the CPS matter, save that for another day. Today is a day for celebrating all that love can overcome.

    Comment by Ronda — May 21, 2010 @ 11:21 am | Reply

  2. Sweetest story I’ve heard in a long time…:)

    Comment by Lori — May 21, 2010 @ 7:58 pm | Reply

  3. How wonderful!

    Honestly, based on my experience with kids and having been a kid myself, not many children would react like this girl did to a special needs child like Peter. I think the girl deserves a call to her parents letting them know how nice she was.

    As for CPS, I’m torn on this. See, all the things you’re accused of doing actually happened to me, though it was my father and not my mother. My mother sat on the sidelines watching and didn’t try to do anything. CPS “investigated”, concluded that I was fabricating, and closed the case. My parents, having discovered that I told someone the truth, punished me more. I wish CPS had taken the allegations more seriously.

    Comment by MM — May 22, 2010 @ 1:23 am | Reply

  4. MM – I left you previous comments – but I guess you haven’t gotten them. This is a whole story – I’m writing a book – if you read earlier chapters, or even early more recent journal entries – you’ll get the background. The school psychologist, who we’ve been at war w/for years, got very angry when we finally succeeded in getting her removed from our son’s team – and then she immediately called CPS in retaliation. Believe me, the matter was fully investigated – she made it up – the whole thing – because she was angry at us. I’m sorry you had problems as a child, but this is not our case. This is the case of a school retaliating against us because we advocate very strongly for our son’s rights. This woman could not substantiate her allegations in anyway – but she did know the buzzwords to use to get CPS to come out – and cause us a lot of grief. It was a horrible, spiteful thing to do – we’ve even gotten the law involved – the DA is aware of the situation and has advised us to call the police if it happens again. Of course, we are considering our legal options against this woman personally, and against the school.

    Comment by whenrainhurts — May 22, 2010 @ 8:36 am | Reply

    • Yeah, false allegations of child abuse piss me off like you wouldn’t imagine because they lead people to not believe real allegations as in the case of mine.

      I wasn’t trying to defend the school accuser. As someone who was really abused, what she did should be criminal.

      I was trying to defend CPS for taking the time to investigate.

      Comment by MM — May 22, 2010 @ 5:51 pm | Reply

      • Yes, I actually have no complaints about CPS whatsoever. The gentlemen who investigated the allegations was polite, professional, respectful, contacted some of Peter’s physicians and several other “mandatory” reporters, interviewed the children – there was absolutely no hint, to use his words, that anything untoward was going on inside our home. Of course, we knew that, but its reassuring to hear all the same, under the circumstances. He did his job – and you’re right – its his responsibility and all children deserve that. Thanks so much for clarifying your thoughts for me. Best – Mary

        Comment by whenrainhurts — May 23, 2010 @ 9:48 am

  5. Congratulations on taking the school district to hearing. I assume your attorney specializes in special education law. Although all this is certainly heartbreaking, it is heartwarming at the same time – as I can tell you know.

    On a personal note our school district called CPS on us when we were unable to pick up our raving child from the school at the moment we were called. Like you the CPS staff person was wonderful, low-key, warm, competent and dismissed the whole thing very quickly. It took a little work to figure out who had actually made the call from the school – since I think we were talking to the police at the same time the call was placed. I spoke with the administrator who had made the call – this person didn’t quite apologize, but almost. And, this was one of the last steps of getting our daughter into a residential-therapeutic school paid for by the school district.

    Comment by hudsonvalleyeducationadvocates — May 22, 2010 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

    • Unbelievable. If we have a similar outcome from all this (though we’re looking for a day program), I will be so relieved. However, I’m skeptical.
      Instead of even “almost” admitting wrongdoing, the school has circled the herd, so to speak, and our digging in their heels. Time will tell, I guess. Thanks for sharing your story (and hardship). Mary

      Comment by whenrainhurts — May 23, 2010 @ 9:52 am | Reply

      • Hello Mary,

        Privately, I would be happy to share our story and insights gleaned with you on the process that led to the school district paying for residential-therapeutic school. The goal is always to seek to secure the services that meet “the unique needs of the individual” – which is a line from the law and/or the regulations. This means – stay focused on the child…. it is the responsibility of the school district to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). If you would like to, drop me an email at hudsonvalleyeducationadvocates@gmail.com and I’ll tell the story. None of what I would share would mean to imply we handled all this well in the eight year process. However, About a year ago, Katie did get to the place that meets her needs and she is doing quite well. And I learned a lot about special ed, advocacy, and the process (and politics) of all this. Since then I have taken a workshop, read some books, and worked with folks doing advocacy, so I am now setting myself up in business. As you know the need for special education advocacy is great, and the resources for parents are few.

        Christopher Duncan

        Comment by hudsonvalleyeducationadvocates — May 23, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

  6. For MM -

    My child is you. In my child’s case, it’s the ‘adoptive’ father. I’m not sitting by like your mother. I couldn’t live with myself if I did…

    Comment by Lori — May 23, 2010 @ 8:28 pm | Reply


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