Thursday, April 28, 2011

The ones who can't tell

[Spoiler alert]
I just finished reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I won't go into detail; the spoiler I'm going to share is that the protagonist, a middle-aged male writer, makes the mental observation about the title character, "Asperger's syndrome...or something like that. A talent for seeing patterns and understanding abstract reasoning where other people perceive only white noise." He reaches this conclusion after discovering that the girl, Lisbeth, has an eidetic memory and can almost immediately figure out any mechanical or technical system. A person with a lot of knowledge about ASDs can see a lot of typically ASD characteristics in Lisbeth's character, although she has other characteristics that contradict ASD symptoms. But since she's a fictional character, it's not really worth splitting hairs.

The thing on my mind this morning is another defining element of Lisbeth's character: she is the victim of horrific sexual abuse propogated by men in positions of direct legal power over her. And she does not report the crimes these men commit. Any humane reader will be disturbed by the situations, and the scenes in the book are brutal.

But I am additionally disturbed by the novel because I worry about my children, who cannot speak for themselves, falling prey to people like that, and the older they get, the more I worry. Even though I have total confidence in the people caring for them now, I won't always be able to control things. This local story, which was uncovered recently, really got under my skin, and I've been worrying more ever since I read it.

I wish I had an upbeat note with which to end this post, but I don't.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Life is funny

A few hours ago I had one of the worst experiences of my life, hands down. It's a nice day out today, so the kids were playing outside, and H. was taking his pull-up off as often as he could. Having gone through this before, I knew that eventually I would come outside to find him without pants and with feces all over his butt because he had defecated in his pull-up and then taken it off. And soon enough that's exactly what happened.

Usually, after I find the poop-filled discarded diaper, I lay H. down and clean off his butt with wipes, or attempt to clean him off while he is standing. And even when he's feeling silly and giggly, he allows me to clean him up.

Not today.

Today we had a knock-down drag-out wrestling match to get him to lay down in the grass so that I could clean his butt. I tried to sit on his torso to keep him still, a tactic I have used before, but today he wrenched himself loose several times. Eventually--and I don't know how else to put it--I had to attack him, throw him to the ground, and straddle him so that I could do something I do every day. Wipe shit off his ass.

Of course, he was terrified and screaming by the time we were finished. I told him, "I'm sorry that I scared you. And I'm sorry that I pushed you down and sat on you." After a pause, I said. "But I'm not sorry that I cleaned your bottom." He was OK after a few minutes and let me help him into a clean pull-up.

I went inside and changed my pants, because I was pretty sure I had gotten crap on them. I washed up, took some deep breaths, and decided we would run some errands that involved a lot of driving and not a lot of getting in and out of the car.

Once we got home, all of us were feeling a lot more calm. As I sat on the deck watching the kids, I thought to myself, "I would say I feel exhausted, but I feel like I have exhausted exhausted." Then I remembered the conversation Mike and I had last night after another insane dinner. "We handle this incredibly well," he said, and I agreed.

Just then I looked down at my foot, and I noticed this:
Yes, that's a big smear of shit on my ankle. I'd been walking around with it for hours. And that proves my point. It's also proves that life is funny.