May 26, 2010. After my very direct request, Peter’s principal assures him today that he will no longer be made to play monkey in the middle. More specifically, he promised our FAS son that his teacher will no longer go home during lunch (how long do teachers get for lunch anyway?), wash and dry his soiled clothes and make him change into them again before school lets out. Nor will she continue to ask Peter to keep secrets from us about his school continence status or otherwise manipulate his already confused and cloudy mind to further her personal agenda, or perhaps more aptly, vendetta. Don’t get me wrong, I think the school has committed one heinous blunder after the next, and in some instances their conduct abuts if not crosses the line into criminality, but I give this principal credit. To my knowledge he is the only person involved in Peter’s education who has not yet had his conscience completely excised. And for the first time in weeks, if not months, Peter comes bouncing happily into the parent pick-up area, holding a newly sprouted sunflower plant and wearing an obvious change of clothes. “I can tell you I peed now Mom!” he shouts, oblivious to the fact that the whole room can hear him, and is now watching. I wouldn’t normally be thrilled to hear this news, especially in public, but I’m relieved the principal carried out my request and spoke to our son, who of late has been a nervous wreck. When we get home he tells me his class is walking across the Hudson River tomorrow, which is the fieldtrip they took Monday, and I gently try steering his perseverative mind toward a more accurate timeline, but it doesn’t work, he keeps insisting he’s correct. He’s stuck in this mind frame and so I nudge a little harder, and in a different direction. “Did anyone special come see you in your class today?” I ask. “Who Mom?” I ask him to think and after a full minute perhaps, he says, “Oh yeah, you mean the cooker people!” Steering and nudging are obviously not working, his thoughts, some days, more unsteady than a drunk on a tightrope, so I revert to a more elemental, applied behavioral approach. I narrow my question to, “Did a man speak to you in class today?” I point to him and then pick up his book bag for visual emphasis. And finally, finally, I hear the response I’m seeking. I have his attention now, the mental meandering has stopped, and so I listen to his version of what the principal had to say. “And he said Mrs. Cordier got talked to too!” He likes this idea, I can tell, though I’m not sure why. Is he reading our signals or does he intuit that what this woman’s been making him do is fundamentally unfair? Pat and I are trying hard to shield both kids from the situation so I thank him for telling me about his special visit and move on to safer topics. I ask the kids to get ready for soccer practice in the blistering 96-degree weather. As they complain about putting on their shin guards and cleats, I stand at the sink filling extra water bottles. Their coach announces that practice will be short because the heat hangs heavy, more so than even the thermometer indicates, and so I opt to stay in my air-conditioned car for the duration, chatting with another mom. I watch to make sure both kids are drinking during water breaks and when practice ends, another mom hands out ice pops to all the overheated, greedy little hands clamoring for more than one. But Peter is running, almost wobbling, toward the car, not caring about his ice pop. “Something is wrong, Mom,” he says, tears beginning to flow. His face is beet red, just like all the other kids’ faces, but he’s feeling sick. In the car he starts rocking in his seat, up and down, up and down, his familiar high-pitch squeal alerting me to his stress. “I feel wrong!” he screams. He’s sobbing now and so I get him into the front seat with me where he can put his face up to the cold-spewing vents but this does little to calm him. I then pull him from the car, and with his permission, pour some water over his head and neck. That seems to do the trick. He’s not dehydrated or on the verge of heatstroke. Just really, really hot. It’s a sensation that’s too intense for Peter, and once the distraction of soccer ended, he became intensely aware of it and began panicking. Poor guy. So few understand his needs, how difficult the everyday world is for him. Sophie’s hot too and says she wishes the town pool were open, which gives me an idea. When we get home, I pull out the hose and spray the kids in their sweat-drenched clothes. Within seconds, Sophie gleefully becomes doused but I have to ease Peter into the fun. Within ten minutes he too is cool and happy. I put the hose setting on Jet, and using the powerful line of water it shoots, I hold it steady as the kids play liquid Limbo and Olympic Hurdle Jumping. Sophie wins the Limbo contest but Peter far outshines her with his jumping prowess. Pat has Peter’s hot shower waiting when they finally come inside, dripping and suddenly cold. Sophie’s been taking care of her own bathing needs for close to a year but Peter’s hygiene continues to be a work in progress and requires step- by-step oversight. We end the evening with hotdogs, baked beans, and cold fruit followed by a rousing game of Bums and Presidents, a new family favorite compliments of my 13-year old nephew Stephen. I kiss both kids goodnight and Peter calls out as I turn his light off. “Thanks Mom, for bettering me today. I’m so good now.” And then he buries himself, head and all, under his covers and 12-lb weighted blanket. “Sleep tight,” I smile, knowing of course, that he will.