Susan's Blog

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wednesday in the Park With Nat

Yesterday I went to Nat’s school to see him, for the first time since the move-out. When I came into his classroom, he was sitting at the computer, and for a moment, he looked exactly like Max: blond, thin, hunched in front of a computer screen. His teacher called to him, “Come see who is visiting you!” and he turned around, and the big blue eyes widened. Then he turned right back to his screen, in familiar Batchelder-style focus (the Senator family is not big on focus). He was doing data entry, and he was doing it well.

I waited there, already chastened by this big reality check. No one there appeared to be suffering terribly from homesickness, at least not at the moment. When he was ready, we left. I drove to a nearby McDonalds. It was all very civilized; Nat chose the table while I got the condiments. He was very subdued: no bubbly sing-song talk, no puppet hand. No smile. This bothered me. We ate quietly. I had a glimpse of the future, visiting grown-up Nat. Sitting at a table, sharing a meal, not talking. It was okay. But I wanted a smile.

Yet I felt so relieved just to be there with him, to look at him, and to ask him questions every now and then. I told him about how he has two houses now. How the school house is really like camp. And most importantly, I told him when he was coming home next: Friday.

This decision had been made early that morning, when I woke up realizing that there was absolutely no reason why we couldn’t bring him home for a visit one week early. Just because it was recommended that he stay at least two weeks, based on what was successful for other kids, did not mean it was right for Nat. Suddenly, that morning, I knew in my gut, my Mrs. Dumbo gut, that my kid needed to come home as soon as he could, but in a way that made sense with getting him used to the new house. Ned and I settled on Friday night, and go back Saturday afternoon. Then he would have a chance to be with us some, but also, to see what the new house is like on the weekend.

Nat brightened when I told him this. He wanted to hear it a few times, the story of how Nat would come home Friday and sleep at the old house, and then wake up a the old house, and have lunch there, and then go back to the new house, and sleep there.

After lunch we went to a park by a pond and sat on a blanket in the grass. I was very hot and the grass was prickly and itchy. But the stillness around us was very pleasant. Deep summer. I showed Nat the stuff I brought: a Winnie-the-Pooh fleece blanket that Laura had sent him; some of his favorite Disney movies (Mary Poppins, Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin) and a sing-along. I also brought him some mail from his social group. We looked through it all. I tried to sing songs from one of the videos, and he sang with me. There was a flash of a smile, but not as much as I wanted. Then we got up, shook out the blanket, and headed back to school.

As I drove home, I realized that I was feeling better than I had in days. I had experienced some moments when it truly felt like we could do this, where Nat seemed resigned to the plan and where we could find new ways to enjoy each other. It gave me just a little nugget of strength that allowed me to forget about this whole thing for the evening, a touch of hope that we would be okay. All I wanted was to make dinner and eat it, just the four of us. Definitely a subset of who we are, but still a satisfying little group.


I was waiting all day to hear about your visit to Nat. Thank you for sharing.

Mary, a quiet reader of yours

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, July 31, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Yes, I was waiting too.

Here’s to more smiles next time…

— added by gretchen on Thursday, July 31, 2008 at 4:20 pm

I feel all tingly reading this. It sounds like you had a nice visit and I’m happy he’ll get to visit overnight a bit earlier than planned.

— added by mumkeepingsane on Thursday, July 31, 2008 at 6:18 pm

Hear, hear, here’s to more smiles…

I have something for you at And here’s a smile from my son to you and Nat(at

Happy day, Susan!


— added by Kittymama on Friday, August 1, 2008 at 2:43 am

Right back at you, Kittymama!
Thanks, all, for your good wishes.

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, August 1, 2008 at 3:59 am