Questions about behaviour. Stilted awkward questions while the other parents come and go. Are they listening? Are they asked questions too?
We’ve been down this road before when someone told me you weren’t normal. Six months later and they called me to ask where you’d been. They were quiet, they said. You were just a normal, busy boy they said. Did they know the path they set us on? Pediatrician waiting rooms, googling disorders late at night. All to be told you were just a very busy three year old boy.
And now we’re here again. “Have you had his behaviour checked out?” they ask. “Can we have the paperwork?” they say. I’m trying not to be defensive. I tell them about the improvements you’ve made, the health nurse who calls you smart and inquisitive. But all I hear is “hopefully”.
Are they wishing something on you? Will it make their job easier? Do they know every time they say “hopefully” they are planting a fresh seed? ODD, ADHD, ASD, OD, SPD – I know all the acronyms. I sit and ask myself “Did I neglect you?” “Did I punish you too harshly? Not enough?” “Will you suffer at school?” “Am I just a lousy parent?”.
I used to relish these three hours but now all I do is worry. Are you playing nicely? Are you being too rough? Are you rolling around on the ground again at story time? Do they care about you or have they given up already? They don’t bother with an art smock anymore. They don’t greet you with a hug or a smile anymore. Do they know of your sweetness? Your light? Do they relish your affection like we do?
I’ll be picking you up soon. We will sing your new favourite song in the car. I will acknowledge the naysayers but I will hold you close. I will be defensive because sometimes someone has to.