When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

November 3, 2010

November 3, 2010

Halloween 2010

November 3, 2010.  The other night we spoke about the mid-term elections over dinner and Peter asked whether I voted for Daddy.  Rather than embark on yet another Who’s on First dialogue, Pat instead asked, “Peter, why do grownups vote in elections?” “To vote,” he replied.  At age 9, our son still has little understanding of the world beyond himself, despite his exposure to media, family discussions, and school lessons.  Given how “normally” he presents, it’s an increasingly worrisome reality.  The other day he asked if the Civil War was at our house, casually commenting that our yard was peaceful and he liked it that way.  When asked, he couldn’t recall where he had heard about the Civil War, all he could say was, “it’s real Mom, the mens are fighting.”  I tried to explain that it took place 150 years ago, that I had relatives who fought for the South and that the war almost destroyed our fledgling country.  He then asked if my father, who died in 1994, was still fighting, and was that why he doesn’t visit often.  No matter what I said, he couldn’t grasp the idea of a distant past, not even slightly.  There are times when he can envision a future – he’ll make comments about buying his own iPod or car when he grows up, but he has no real inkling that life occurred before the scope of his own memory.  This restricted style of thinking is one of the countless reasons I agonize over Peter’s ability, one day, to navigate independently his environment: to recognize the difference between friend and predator, to make the correct snap judgment in a dangerous situation, or even to remember to eat dinner if there is no one present to model the task.  At our first CSE meeting with the new school the other day, his teacher astutely commented that Peter has difficulty orienting himself in time, which by his age, in particular, can be a major source of confusion and frustration.  She said addressing this difficulty should be a top priority.  Pat and I agreed, of course.  How refreshing that this new teacher is concerned with the same things that worry us.  She realizes that Peter needs to master the fundamentals, like where he is in time, both in the larger context and in terms of daily living, before he’s exposed, uselessly, to grade level lessons such as the scientific principles of electricity, a unit he was made to endure for weeks on end last year.  Maybe, just maybe, we’re now on the path toward real improvement, cooperation, and better spirit.  I do hope so.  Last month Peter announced he wasn’t going Trick or Treating this year.  The decorations that adorned the village neighborhoods scared him, as did many of the costumes.  I suggested he pick out a costume anyway, which he did, just in case he changed his mind, which he also did.  And I’m so glad.  We met up with friends and had a wonderful time, Peter included.  I think the kids enjoyed jumping in the countless mounds of raked leaves best of all, especially Sophie, who made a terrific mummy.  I only hope the villagers forgive the mischief as they inevitably embark on raking their yards all over again.  Dare I say it?  Things are starting almost to feel normal.  Not normal “normal”, but more relaxed, more supportive, less combative and definitely more hopeful.  I ran into a friend the other day – she later emailed to say how wonderful she thought I looked, which I found funny because I was wearing sweats and a t-shirt and I’m fairly sure I had pieces of mulch stuck in my hair.  But what she meant was the stress – she said for the first time in months, stress no longer seemed to be my most prominent feature.  What a nice compliment, and reminder, of what matters, what I must strive for, and what I must never forget to gauge.  The difficulties of raising two children with complex, often misunderstood needs are plenty, but at the same time, the daily joys, the occasional soaring triumphs, the quiet moments – these are the things worth carrying.



  1. I am still astounded by how much your Peter sounds like my Gabby! Even the comment, “It’s real Mom, the mens are fighting,” sounds exactly like something Gabby would say. I’m glad you seem to be feeling less stress. (Just wondering…did you also fly home with the children on November 2, 2004? Yesterday was our 6 year anniversary of flying home. We share a court day, just wondering if we also share a coming home day.)

    Comment by Laurel — November 3, 2010 @ 11:39 am | Reply

  2. Happy Halloween! That photo is great! 🙂 So glad to hear how much better things are already with the new school. Wonderful.

    Comment by Kathleen — November 3, 2010 @ 11:40 am | Reply

  3. We can’t wait to see you guys and so happy that things are looking up:~)

    Comment by Sheila Greene — November 3, 2010 @ 3:13 pm | Reply

  4. I’m thrilled to hear that Peter was able to enjoy Halloween. I remember at one point he was having trouble deciphoring reality from what he saw on TV, and thought it would be tragic if he couldn’t deal with the ultimate celebration of (often scary) fantasy. Bravo!

    Comment by Bradley St Paul — November 3, 2010 @ 3:49 pm | Reply

  5. I have the same concerns for my son, although he struggles to a lesser extent. His thinking is so bizarre sometimes.

    As for “normal” who is to say that normal really is. But yes, I know what you mean. For us normal is not living in crisis day after day.

    And let me say one more time how proud and impressed I am of you for fighting so hard for Peter. You are an amazing mother and woman. I’m so happy to hear that the new school is working out so well and that the level of stress on you has diminished so greatly!

    Happy fall!

    Comment by Kristine — November 3, 2010 @ 7:52 pm | Reply

  6. You really do seem upbeat in this post. I hope this new school continues to support Peter the right way.

    Comment by Katherine Kurima — November 3, 2010 @ 9:01 pm | Reply

  7. Well…down here…the Texans believe the Civil War is still going on…really. Freaks me out a bit when they mention Southerners versus Northerners. I don’t know if it helps any but many say my little Ani appears normal. But then, they only have a few hours with her at school, etc. I know her as my daughter, and I know what still doesn’t come to reason for her, at age nine. Some days it’s age 3. Some days it’s age 20 or older. I’m learning that every day has the possibility of being different, by no fault of her own. It saddens me still sometimes, but I am learning to go with the flow more. And trust me, I needed to learn that life skill a long time ago. One thing I think that most of us who have these children in our lives might forget, or at least I do, is that my little girl has been the best that has ever happened to me in my whole life, and likely will always be, even if she has been the most influential is some character building I likely needed. I’m going to just keep on learning… Take care.

    Comment by Lori — November 4, 2010 @ 1:30 am | Reply

  8. Prayers for you that peace,progress and serenity will continue to grace your days! God Bless.

    Comment by Victoria Campbell — November 8, 2010 @ 8:58 am | Reply

  9. Although this is and old post and I’m sure I’ll be reading more of this progress I had to comment to thank you for all you’re doing for these kids. I know it must be such a tremendous relief to have a teacher, and a new teacher at that, recognize immediately and bring to your attention what she sees happening.

    Have fun with him, embrace the uniqueness of the situation as much as possible and continue to smile. When you do your children will smile back. Although they may have had a twisted, terrible past, you are their future and that’s something they need and want.Memory is a fascinating faucet of humanity, learn from them as much as you can while you’re teaching them.

    Comment by sarahbutland — August 7, 2012 @ 9:51 am | Reply

    • Thank you, Sarah, for your kind words and encouragement 🙂

      Comment by whenrainhurts — August 18, 2012 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

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