Monday, April 01, 2002

April 1-5, 2002

APRIL 1, 2002

Good news, I guess: I won't be able to use this space to shill for ABC's "Once and Again" much longer, because the network has finally said, "No more." There are three episodes of this often intriguing, sometimes annoying, usually emotionally honest drama to go, including tonight's, and now no incentive whatsoever for new viewers to take a look at it. But allow me to whine at least one more time, and pretend that anyone even still cares.

Tonight's episode continues and, most likely, resolves a long-simmering storyline about teenage daughter Grace's desperate infatuation with her English teacher (played by Eric Stoltz, for anybody who may have been infatuated with him when they were teenagers). That he returns the infatuation has been suggested but not stated outright; it's still possible that he's merely fond of her and deeply sympathetic to the numerous ways she has humiliated herself on his behalf. Anyone who was capable, at that age, of really mortifying behavior in the pursuit of something that seemed to be the most important thing in the world -- romantic, social, academic or whatever -- will feel a pang as this basically good but often heedlessly passionate girl does things that she will remember later in life with a wince.

One of this show's strengths has always been its ruthless, clear-eyed showing of the ways in which people embarrass themselves -- there have been times that I have had to dive for the mute button to stop characters from saying that desperately ill-advised thing they were obviously just about to. Thought it was sometimes painful viewing, I'll miss it. Too bad that too few of us will.

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APRIL 2, 2002

Lately, my son seems to be developing good manners. Not the kind of good manners that involve, say, eating with your fork or refraining from burping aloud at will, but some very nice little verbal habits nonetheless. He's always been good with "please," "thank you," and "excuse me," but now his repertoire has expanded. For example, during Easter dinner at a restaurant, he demonstrated his ability to interact politely with the waitress, whether to clearly give his order in turn or to wave her down and request more juice. Quite the fine diner was he.

When he went to the pediatrician last week, he sat down at a table of toys where a little girl was playing and nicely introduced himself, saying his name and asking for hers. And another afternoon, waiting outside for his sister to come out of school, he approached a girl who was piling up sticks, excused himself, and asked if she might like some help. Of course, she ignored him; mainstream-type kids often don't respond to his polite overtures. Children with special needs get a lot of help with and stress on social skills. Maybe some mainstream kids could use that, too.

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APRIL 3, 2002

I'm feeling all inconsistent about inclusion these days. On the one hand, last week I had to head off yet another attempt to pull my daughter out of her mainstream class and stick her in resource room for a good portion of the day. I had to again explain that that sort of remediation does not work for her, and that being in a classroom with everybody else does. Her teacher was just being concerned; I don't think it was an official child-study-team-mandated request, just an attempt to gently talk me into it. She didn't. My girl needs to be in the regular classroom, and I'll do everything short of crazy glue to keep her there.

So there, I'm the queen of inclusion. And in that spirit, I've also pulled the plug on my son's expensive, exclusive special needs camp and have found an in-town mainstream program that will take him on. We'll pay for him to have a one-on-one aide, but beyond that, he'll be just another kid, albeit a jumpy, noisy, busy, key-obsessed one. I'm feeling good about having him be part of the community this year, with kids he might actually see around town. Mainstream children have generally been kind to him, and I hope that will continue. For summer, anyway, inclusion's the ticket.

But during the school year, I can't work up any enthusiasm for that boy being in a mainstream class. He has a hard enough time staying focused in a small, structured, self-contained special-ed class; put him in a regular classroom with too many kids and too much going on, and he'd be at his hyperkinetic worst. It's even occured to me to wonder, as we approach his latest three-year review, whether he wouldn't be better off in a special school instead of just a special class. That's about as far from inclusion as you can get, and it's going to make some child-study-team heads spin that the mom who won't even allow her daughter to be pulled into resource room wants to send her son out of the home school, out of the community, and way out of the mainstream. But that's okay. It's good to keep them on their toes.

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APRIL 4, 2002

My kids really really really really really want a dog.

My husband really really really really really doesn't.

Me, I'm in the middle. We always had a dog when I was growing up, and I miss that. I can see where it might be good for my kids to have that sort of companionship and that sort of responsibility. But on the other hand: Mess. Disruption. Dog hair. Dog poop. Do I need that sort of responsibility? There are days we just barely have it together with our current roster of personnel.

At any rate, we would have to find a pretty exceptional dog to be able to survive this household. One energetic enough to play with the small hyperactive boy, but controlled enough to not hurt him in the process. One calm enough for my daughter, who adores dogs in about the same proportion that she is scared to death of them. One who will provide good company for my mother-in-law, who has custody of the downstairs rooms of our house that lead to the backyard, but not move in any way that may interfere with her already unsteady steps. And of course, one who will charm my husband, who really really really doesn't much care for critters.

Maybe one day the perfect dog will just follow us home, and we won't have to think about it. And then maybe somebody will leave a baby on our doorstep, and we'll be able to adopt again without any hassle. It's nice to dream. That's what I tell my kids, anyway.

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APRIL 5, 2002

Well, since I griped about "ER" last week, I have to acknowledge that this week, they did at least make some mention of FAS, and of drinking while pregnant as being a Bad Thing. Now, they did it in the context of a doctor yelling at a parent, which seems to be the general mode of address of doctors to parents on this show these days -- but it's good to at least have FAS acknowledged as something that causes developmental delays, since so many real-life doctors seem so reluctant to deal with it very much at all.

And although I'm happy for any mention at all, wouldn't it be good to have an older child on some show, demonstrating what FASD looks like once the child gets past alcohol-exposed-preemie stage? Maybe a parent would actually get a chance to yell at a doctor, as I yell at doctors and teachers who insist on overlooking the brain damage my child has suffered and see only the bad behavior. Well, in my head I yell at them. I yell at them when I get home. I yell at them on this Web site. In person I mostly just stew. And I suppose, to be fair, that's not really all that telegenic.

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