Susan's Blog

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Way The Cookie Crumbled

As I was falling asleep last night I thought about the perils of not knowing and of not being able to find out. You see, what happened is that Nat got off his bus yesterday and the driver handed me a small green saran-wrapped package. With Nat running up the walk with two heavy bags, I had no time to ask what this was and who it was from. I shouted a thanks and waved, which I hoped would be adequate for this nice gift, whatever it was. Of course, it may not have been from the driver at all (but maybe it was, because I had given her a gift last week. The drivers, the House staff, and the teachers are THE MOST IMPORTANT people on my lists, right under family; they take care of Nat, after all). The gift might have been from the school, the House, or something Nat himself made that the teachers handed to the driver for safekeeping. Who knows?

I got inside and set the package down on the counter while Nat whirled around me, unpacking loudly, throwing backpack down and duffel bag up, stuffing clothes into drawers so old and full that they can’t even shut. (Our house is, alas, furnished mostly from cast-offs repainted, yard sale treasures, college day finds. The boys’ dressers, and mine, are rickety but perhaps charming old things that are totally inadequate for our needs. Sometimes over my 25 years as a married woman I have been able to splurge and buy something new, but, with Autistic Adulthood and College For Two looming, those days are over.)

Once downstairs, I opened the little bundle and saw what looked like a broken gingerbread cookie, resting on shredded green and red paper. It had a string through it. But — no tag, no card, no note in the bag. Who was it from? I forgot it, busied myself with fixing Nat and Ben lunch, and finishing whatever it was I was doing prior to the universal early dismissals, when the world suddenly shifts, black to white, routine to the great vacation void.

Sometime later, Ned took Ben out and Max went upstairs, leaving me downstairs with Nat. I was tidying up as I seem always to be doing, when I noticed the broken brown cookie thing sitting there. I picked up a tiny piece of it and threw it into my mouth without thinking.

As I started to chew, a dry spiciness on my tongue. Instantly my mouth filled with an intense cloud of clove. Burning, minty, clovey flavor everywhere, tasting less and less like a cookie and more and more like wrong. “Ew!” I shouted, and spit ferociously into the sink. “Ew!” I rinsed and rinsed and the weird dust storm persisted even through the drenching. I ran upstairs to brush my teeth, gagging now.

Okay. It was not a cookie. Or it was a really badly-made cookie. “It was an ornament, probably made out of plaster,” Ned said, a small smile on his face.

“But –? Am I going to die? I had this in my mouth!”

“You’re not going to die,” he said, laughing a little.

But I did want to know, who had made it, what it really was made out of, where it had come from. I couldn’t ask Nat, he would have said, “Nat.” Meaning either he had made it or he had brought it home made by ___?

This made me think once again what it must be like to exist in a world where things happen to you and remain an utter mystery either because you don’t know who to ask or you don’t know how to ask.


I hate that about public school. It's frustrating to know it will never change when dealing with others that can't seem to remember the notes home have to read more than "Had a good day". Which is why I no longer send the day book… what's the point. Plus, it's to prove a point… but that's another story…

Hope he enjoys his time at home.

— added by farmwifetwo on Thursday, December 24, 2009 at 1:53 pm

So true, so true,. and such a good analogy for life…not knowing what is going on because you don't know who to ask or how to ask.. I like that.

— added by Kate on Thursday, December 24, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Nice post! Interesting points.

But my shallow mind wants to know…what do you give the school and house people? I am always overwhelmed and end up doing almost nothing. There's a classroom teacher but there are various co-teachers and classroom aides, whose names I do not even know and who cycle in and out. At the house there are two house parents, but also a veritable horde of co-workers, who cycle in and out, come and go. I tend to just give "the house" a big box of chocs or cookies…but I definitely feel it is a bit remiss. Any tips suggestions welcome!

Presently Clueless

— added by Nancy Bea Miller on Friday, December 25, 2009 at 11:05 am

Oh, NancyBea, you are NOT clueless, jeez. I do the food-for-all thing, too. But last year I had an Edibles Arrangement basket delivered to The House only to find that the few staffers who were on at the time ate everything and the others never even knew about it! So this year I asked for The House wish list and we bought them something on it. For Nat's 4 teachers, I do small gift cards for iTunes, that kind of thing, and our holiday card. I'm sure you could draw a fantastic holiday card, and write a beautiful poem about them. I was told that other parents do $5 gift cards to Dunkin Donut's for the staff, because they always go their with the kids on community outings!

— added by Susan Senator on Saturday, December 26, 2009 at 4:01 pm

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