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.