Well, it has been a great day. I took the day off to spend with Liv, who is off for parent-teacher conferences. I went in to see her teacher, Ms. Paris, this morning. Liv doesn't get grades in the way that I used to, such as A B C or D. Nope. She gets M, P, or E, meaning Mastered, Progressing and Emerging.
She has nearly Mastered everything with only one Emerging in editing of writing. Ms. Paris informed me that she thinks that Liv is a budding mathematician. It took everything I had not to look slightly horrified since just the subject of math gives me hives.
She told me that Liv excelled in geometry and is also very interested in the area of quadrilaterals, the division of decimals, electrons and protons and um...plate tectonics.
Well, alrighty then! Does this mean that she has finally mastered that pesky multiplication table? Because that is what I remember from my fourth grade year.
Seriously, I am proud. And her father is too. When I arrived at Hal and Nora's to pick up Liv after the conference, I tried hard to look stern when I walked in the door, but as always, Liv saw through me. She ran to me and leaped into my arms.
"I got a good report, didn't I?" she asked. It really wasn't a question. She knew that she did well already. I smiled and told her that she was too smart for me, that plate tectonics were seriously out of my league. Liv beamed.
"Can I call Dad and tell him when we get home?" she asked.
I said that of course she could, after all, she gets all that math whiz nonsense from him. She certainly doesn't get it from me....
I talked to Tinton, Liv's father when Liv was finished.
"I'm kind of intimidated," I whispered to him. "I mean, she is a fucking genius, Tinton and as she doesn't get that from me so this is all your damn fault."
He laughed. "She's something, all right, isn't she?"
Yes, I told him. She is certainly sumpin' sumpin'.
There is a certain joy that only parents share when it comes to their children. I mean, who else can I brag and brag and brag to? Just him. Just Tinton. Because, the truth is that while my friends (blog friends included) and family care about me and Liv, really...it is sort of boring to listen to someone go on and on about their children.
So, it is a good thing that you couldn't hear Tinton and me on the phone. He made me read the ENTIRE report card to him, line by line. And then Liv remembered that he was trying to learn french (he and his girlfriend are going to Paris for Christmas, the lucky sods), so she got back on the phone and insisted on conversing with him only in french. And when she handed the phone back to me, he wasn't irritated the way that anyone else would have been, he was so fucking impressed....
We are pretty much crazy in love with our little girl.
So, just in case you missed what I am trying to say...
Liv is a genius. And I get to be her mother.
And another bit of news, now.
I have a new job, starting on Halloween. Well, I didn't intentionally start on that day, it just sort of worked out that way.
I ran into an old friend several days ago. A friend from about...let's see...nearly two decades ago. We both worked for the same clinic in our early thirties, a clinic that specialized in children with autism spectrum disorders. Her name is Julie and we both left the clinic about the same time and while I had read a brilliant paper that she wrote evaluating neurotransmitter serotonin studies recently, I hadn't seen her since we both had perky boobs and unlined faces.
We hugged and exchanged the usual You look so young! How do you do it?! bullshit. And then we decided to go get coffee and catch up.
I found out that Julie and two other women had opened a clinic evaluating and treating children with generalized anxiety disorders, disruptive disorders and autism spectrum disorders. When she told me their address, I blinked.
It was about a block away from where Bing teaches high school.
In the northern part of the city, otherwise known, rather ungenerously, as the 'hood
"A lot of children need help in that area of the city," she told me. "And while we don't make huge salaries, we do have an excellent health insurance provider, so we are pretty lucky."
Julie went on to describe how much she loves working these days.
"I worked for a long, long time in private practice and just burned out," she admitted. "I decided to do something that mattered to me and found two friends who felt the same way and we came up with this. We do a lot of pro bono work and our fees are lowered for those who can't afford to bring in their kids unless we do that because they are either uninsured or under insured." she said.
She also admitted that she rents out the upstairs of the clinic's building to a man who keeps an eye on things in exchange for rent.
"We don't have much to steal," she said, "but we do have several Macs and a few other buildings in our block have been robbed."
She looked at me carefully for a moment.
And then she said it. I knew it was coming.
Have you ever considered going back to working with children?
Well, yes. I have. A lot.
She reminded me of a paper that I wrote years ago on selective mutism.
"You know, if you would think about working with us, you might be surprised at how easy it is to get up in the morning....much more interesting than evaluating charts all day..." she added, cannily.
I sighed. Told her about all the medical reasons that she didn't want to hire me.
She didn't hesitate.
"I don't care," she said. "I think you would be a good fit. As I said, we have an excellent medical carrier and while you won't make as much as you earn at the hospital, we are a really good bunch to work with. We all get along and we all have the same goals. AND we are all women. You could make your own hours on the days when you feel poorly. We do share the same two secretaries, but if we need to hire another, we can always leave that option open. The only drawback is the area but you don't look like you scare easily and hey, the kids we work with are worth it. Will you think about it?"
So, I thought about it. I took it home to Bing and we discussed the topic to death. We finally decided that we could carpool to work. That would save on gas. Liv would still have Hal and Nora to babysit her in the mornings and I could pick her up after school. Bing would go to her work out at the gym down the street from her school and then catch the bus home.
It would mean less money, but we could get by just fine and I would still have really good medical insurance.
And most importantly, I wouldn't be sitting in an office reading charts all day. I could be doing something that I really enjoyed. Something that I had missed for years. I always loved working with children and felt that it was what I was meant to do. I had only left because I had been offered a huge salary to go to an AIDS clinic. And then after Liv was born, I had moved to freelance to free up my days to care for her.
Now, maybe it was time to go back to what I really loved.
And I liked the idea of getting up each morning and going somewhere where I thought I could make a difference. Evaluating charts wasn't doing that for me.
So, Liv, Bing, and I all went down and toured the clinic.
And I loved it from the beginning, right down to the cheerful yellow and blue walls and the simple, but clean waiting room. My office was small but all of them were and there was a good vibe in that clinic. A hopeful vibe.
I met everyone in the office and liked them all immediately. Found out that Julie's mom was one of the secretaries. I knew that I had found the place for me.
Yes, it is in a high crime area of the city. Yes, it is an older building, a bit shabby on the outside, but lovely and soft on the inside. Yes, there are five locks on the front door and an alarm system. Yes, the day we visited, there was a homeless man on the corner. Yes, there is a church soup kitchen right down the street.
I think it will be a good fit.
Yes, I took the job and I start, fittingly, on Halloween.
I will miss Christabelle and Rossi and even Felicity, the humming secretary.
But, I will have other stories.
And for the first time in a very long time, I feel excited about going to work.
I have a genius for a daughter and a new job in a very hopeful clinic in a very sad area of the city.
And Liv and I made FIVE jack-o-lanterns today. Count 'em. Five. One has a scary face, and all of the rest are smiling hugely. I made one with vampire teeth. And then we roasted all of the pumpkin seeds and made tomato soup loaded with crackers for lunch. It was rainy and cold outside but inside, we lit all the jack-o-lanterns and sat scooping our spoons into our bowls of soup and we let Socks have a cracker too. And then we laid on my bed and read some terrible Goosebumps book together about a haunted school house and we all took an afternoon nap under a warm cashmere blanket while the rain slid down the windows. And now, I have a meatloaf in the oven that Liv and I prepared together and there are three potatoes from our garden baking in their jackets next to the meat. There are soft french rolls to be warmed up too and some homemade cole slaw from Nora in the fridge.
We just need Bing to walk in the door and we can all eat.
I think life is pretty interesting. And I am already feeling stronger, happier.
So, wish me well.
And...it occurs to me that I know very little about what all of you do. So...care to share. Are you doing something you love?
I hope so.