Diarrhea and therapists…and the connection is? Unless one aspires to a Zen world view, there probably is no connection. In our house, the two have been known to arrive on the same day, and we pray to be delivered from both. Here’s the thing about therapists. They’re not bad people and either are bill collectors, IRS agents, dentists, lawyers and proctologists. Therapists come into our home to fix our broken kids who apparently can’t do anything right. They can’t walk right, they can’ t see right, they can’t talk right, they can’t hold the crayon right, they can’t eat right and don’t even try to get them to use a pair of scissors right. The only thing they can do right is have diarrhea. They can do that perfectly. The therapists don’t need to fix the diarrhea. There isn’t anything wrong with it .
There are all kinds of therapists. There are physical therapists , occupational therapists, vision therapists, therapists for special instruction, and my favorite, orientation mobility therapists. In our case, a disorientation mobility therapist might be more appropriate. Therapists are well schooled. They study and become skilled in their profession, hoping to one day be of service to others. It all looks good on paper. They come into our home and after a thorough assessment, inform us that we need to make sure Rosey walks up the stairs alternating feet as she climbs up without holding onto the railing. We need to accentuate and exaggerate the final letter sounds of words so that Alex can begin to say the whole word not just part of it. For example, we need to say the word “cat” as “caT” with the emphasis on the final t. So basically, we need to yell the ending of all the words we say to him. Also, we need to create a traffic light out of paper and when we are getting ready to go somewhere but aren’t quite ready yet, we tell Alex we are at the yellow light and almost to the green light. Really?? This is in a house where often, the first goal is to make sure that everyone not only has a shirt to wear but pants too. Or where cousin Megan’s visiting Rastafarian friend, shows up, dreadlocks to his knees, at our bathroom door searching for his missing ferret.
Therapists come to provide help and for this we are most grateful. There is a trade off, however. There is a loss of privacy and it is difficult to be at home in one’s own home. On the plus side, Dexter and I have the perfect marriage. With so many outsiders so often in the house we couldn’t have an argument even if we wanted to have one. There is no chance of spending the day on the couch in pajamas, watching soap operas and eating bonbons. (Actually , I am not even sure what a bonbon is.)
We prayed for deliverance but we would be better off seeking the grace to be steadfast at the helm; to carry out each day’s ordinary and mundane responsibilities, faithfully and with love. And even when we don’t feel like it, putting up with people like therapists who, by the way, are people carrying out their ordinary mundane responsibilities, even when they may not feel like it. No easy life for them when the kid they are trying to work with barely makes an inch of progress, if any at all; when there are more steps back than forward. After all, therapists have their own families, stress and worries and probably are often not comfortable being in other peoples’ homes. They are sacrificing everyday for the good of others and doing it with pleasant demeanor and a smile, whether they feel like it or not.
All this is a reminder of St. Therese of Lisieux, in her practice of the “little way”. St. Therese speaks of doing not extraordinary things but ordinary things with great love. Perhaps the trick is not deliverance but to put up with each other and all the “do do” in our lives with love.
This entry was posted in Marriage and Family on July 19, 2014.
Each afternoon, at 3PM, the little yellow school bus squealed to a halt in front of our house in Havertown. The door opened and a smiling little 4 year old, Lucy, tentatively made her way down and exited the bus. After a wave goodbye to Naomi, the driver, and holding tightly to my hand, Lucy negotiated the long flight of steps to the front door. As she maneuvered each step , she repeated, like a mantra, and in a sing-songy voice, “Want to listen to Dar Williams!” Dar Williams, singer songwriter, just happened to be a favorite in our home at that time (Apparently, so was Brittany Spears, because the parakeet repeated the name Brittany Spears as frequently as Lucy voiced her musical preference for Dar Williams.)
We entered the house where we were greeted with great excitement by our own kids and the kids who spent the day with us as part of the home day care that Dexter and I had founded. Lucy was one of our first clients along with her baby brother, Jimmy. Lucy determinedly made her way past the others and headed straight for the den at the back of the house. There she would take her place on the long church bench, all the while still requesting to listen to the music of her friend, Dar. As I hurriedly placed the CD in the player, I listened for the familiar daily sound that was signature Lucy. It was a sound very much like that of a cork being released from a champagne bottle, a daily “New Year”celebration. In our case, it was more like Groundhog Day. It was the sound of Lucy popping out her eyes, beautiful perfect eyes. But Lucy’s eyes weren’t real. These prosthesis were made of glass, for ‘looks”only. Lucy was born without eyes, her pretty little face fashioned with small sunken indentations where her eyes should have been. She was blind. Each day, before she began to listen to her favorite music, Lucy popped her eyes out in an attempt to be more comfortable, like taking one’s shoes off at the end of a hard day at work. The eyes would launch across the room, landing in a potted plant or on a windowsill. I would then scoop them up and put them aside to give to Lucy’s mom when she arrived to take the little girl home.
On this particular day, chaos abounded in our busy little house. Kevin’s teacher was calling to say that Kevin was serving detention after school because he laughed at the kid making fart noises in class. Suky insisted on brushing her doll’s hair with the toilet brush. Dennis T, our “special” friend, called to say that he was making a promise from his bottom heart. How many hearts does he have ,for God’s sake! Dano bit Suky and Matthew cried when Dano was corrected. The dogs barked and the kids screamed. I didn’t scoop up the pretty little eyes fast enough. When I went back into the den to find them, only one eye was there. I searched high and low, under and over, up and down, but there was still only one eye. What would I tell Lucy’s parents? And so Lucy went home with only one eye and my promise to continue the search for the lost one.
The following day, the Lucy routine repeated itself. The yellow school bus arrived, Lucy made her way to her beloved bench, popped out her eye and requested Dar. This time, however, I immediately retrieved the one remaining eye and set it aside. God forbid that both eyes were lost! Lucy wouldn’t be able to see!.
There is a happy “ending” to this story. At changing time, as I removed Lucy’s diaper, there it was, the lost eye, staring straight up at me! Lucy had swallowed her eye and it had’ seen” its way to the other end. Beauty is said to be in the eyes of the beholder; this was not a pretty sight. It was consistent, though, in a house where so very often, we don’t know if we are coming or going or which “end ” is up. No “buts” about it, we surely are a freak haven, where all are seen through the eyes of love.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized on July 9, 2014.
The Napkin Notes and Coffee Thoughts blog is an uplifting glimpse into the family story of Kathie and Dexter Lanctot, cofounders of Epiphany House, Inc. an organization that promotes adoption of children with special needs. It is told from selections of their correspondence via napkins and small notebooks. It is a story they have been repeatedly been urged to tell.