When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

February 16, 2010

The toboggan slide outside the Chateau Frontenac (Quebec City, Feb. 2010)

February 16, 2010.  We came home from vacation to a beautiful all day, snuggle in front of the fireplace snowstorm.  The world outside is hushed and peaceful, the snow falling at times with flakes so fat the branches of the firs bow quickly, in graceful surrender to the storm.   Inside, Sophie, Peter and I do our best to follow nature’s lead.  Pat leaves early in the morning for meetings in the city, reporting by cell that his seat on the train offers a front row view of the Hudson River’s majestic winter vista.  Peter struggles to recover from the time away from home; it doesn’t help that he wakes to learn that school’s closed.  He craves the routine and certainty that his 3rd grade inclusion classroom provides.  He’s been without his normal schedule for 7 days now because there were also two snow days immediately preceding our trip to Quebec.  For a while, the kids play nicely, happy to be reunited with their toys and familiar comforts.  All of us are moving slowly, the storm outside further influencing our post-vacation drowsiness.  But something happens around mid-afternoon; Peter turns mean, and he directs it at Sophie.  Perhaps it’s because we hear from Lindy that she won’t be coming as scheduled because of the road conditions.  As with Pat and me, Peter both hates and loves his home teacher.  He needs her, the external order she provides, the tools she teaches to help organize his disorganized brain, but he resents her too.  On some level he understands that he shouldn’t need a Lindy, that in some fundamental way, he was gypped.  I try various strategies throughout the afternoon to see him through the rough spots, and they more or less succeed.  But in the middle of an after dinner board game, he tantrums over losing a round.  He recovers with help and the three of us decide that we should continue playing.  But then, no more than five minutes later, he hisses under his breath, without warning or provocation, the worst thing I think I’ve ever heard him say to his sister, “at least my birth mother’s not dead.”   The words smack with rancor and I catch my breath reflexively.  I look at Sophie just in time to see her expression change from stunned hurt to chilling blankness.  “You’re done,” I say, pointing toward the stairs.  I send him to bed at 6:45 pm and try to help Sophie process what happened.  Peter knows his sister has begun struggling with her history, the knowledge that her birth mother died not the least of her sorrows.  He knew he was hitting below the belt, way below, in fact.  There’s not much I can say to make Sophie feel better.  If I could buy her a suit of armor to protect against Peter’s assaults, both random and orchestrated, I would.  It’s what we all need.  But I can’t.  I fall asleep remembering a brief conversation Pat and I had on our last night in Quebec.  He was berating himself for having lost his patience with Peter, reacting with anger incommensurate with the offense at hand.  Lying in bed, watching the Olympics with the lights off, I could see his chin quiver as he struggled to speak.  “Peter doesn’t need a father,” he whispered, his hand reaching plaintively for mine.  “He needs a saint.”  What I said in reply resounds in me now, as I worry about our life, our future, the very welfare of our family.  “What he needs,” I offered, “is indifference.”


1 Comment »

  1. You have a great hubby. He cares. My ex is incapable of caring at that level, about our adopted child. Agencies go through all the screening procedures, but the reality of a FAS child in the home is very different than any training can prepare the parents for. Even though my ex knew I was infertile prior to over a decade long marriage, his lack of interest in the now court-appointed coparenting is apparent. In TX, especially the Dallas area and suburbs, the court is essentially church run. There is a belief in ‘keeping the little family together’. So, when my child comes back exhausted, hungry, and dehydrated from the deliberate overstimulation at my ex’s, I am on double duty time for my week. Yes, I’d take my child back home with me to the Land of Oz in a heartbeat if I could…

    So, I appreciate you sharing glimpes of your marriage. I now know what type of man I should be looking for as my daughter’s ‘real daddy’. You have a wonderful family.

    Comment by Lori — April 3, 2010 @ 8:49 am | Reply

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