And so it was a gal finds herself working in a classroom as a Teacher’s Aid, something she could not have foretold.
Like I had once been, she was a high school dropout, a deficit she felt deeply. Early life can conspire against a kid and becoming an adult brings with it the power to right wrongs.
When the pandemic hit, she seized the opportunity and spent months and months in a tiny little alcove office she made in her bedroom. Then she spent an almost equal number of evenings repeating the process. She not only got her high school diploma but a college education as well, scoring above 90%.
I remember when we first had children. Hell, I remember even talking about having children.
I had told her I didn’t blame her for wanting MY children. Who wouldn’t, was my attitude…
So I promised her a dog.
She looked hurt for a split second and I caught it. That’s something I would not have been able to see a few decades ago. But time…
As a result of that momentary lapse in my protective male hubris, I conceded that if she did well with the dog, I’d agree to let her have my child. It was the best I could do. Besides, betting on the future is easy: you kick that can down the road a bit and cross that bridge when you come to it, right?
Well, she had the dog trained in weeks. You could shoot it with your finger, and it would play dead for food. Come on. Who does that? I was enthralled with her charm. Missus too.
We have two kids together. It’s been magic. And she is still training, only now she does it with developmentally challenged kids. Every day she comes home and exclaims, “I love my job!” with the kind of enthusiasm rarely heard amongst adults.
Non-verbal autistics and Down Syndrome kids and all the rest of the little people: she cleans, feeds, teaches and plays and even swims with them. She loves every bit of it.
I once worked as a pool porter back when kids like these were warehoused away from their families in large institutions. Arriving by prison van each day I’d see the hearse at the back of the building, taking away whomever died in the night. It was Dickensian: an alternate class universe, not a good one.
Working at the Smith Falls institution was better than doing time and gave me access to “street food” from their cafeteria and a chance to chat up pretty lifeguards, actual females.
Missus is now one of the cute gals attending to the children full time, only not at an institution. And the best part is she comes home to me. You could say I’m her only prisoner.
I haven’t bought my kids new clothes in ten years. It’s nuts, I know. What kind of dereliction of duty is this, you may rightfully ask.
Meanwhile their closets and drawers are overflowing with “stuff.”
It’s Missus, she hustles clothes through the sisterhood, washes them and passes along the rest. The only time she wears new clothes for herself is if I buy her some at Christmas or for her birthday.
It’s as much a testament to her character as it is that she looks great in anything, rags even. I know that because she wears my old T-shirts to bed from a dozen or more years ago. Still looks hot.
Every day, it’s “I have to go pick something up,” and off she goes. She is a star recycler. Cars pull up outside my office window almost equally often and a gal jumps out to pick up something Missus has left for her on our front porch.
She is part of silent group of gal pal gatherers. I admire them.
And so it was, one of her charges, a diminutive Down Syndrome type with his tongue perpetually stuck out whom she refers to as the “cutest kid ever,” has only shoes. For whatever reason, no boots.
This is Canada. We just had two feet of snow. No boots.
Not going to happen on her watch.
The day before yesterday, she had to go pick something up. Problem solved. Scrubbed clean and ready, now the “cutest kid ever” has boots.
And last night she is at the kitchen table with one of Howie’s hoodies sewing on mittens to the cuffs of the sleeves for a child with cold hands. Brilliant, I thought. She never ceases to amaze…
Howie didn’t think so, and said it was one of his favourite sweaters. Missus thought it was too small for him, but he convinced her it was not, a little worried while trying it on for proof. Off came the mittens and the sweater is back in his drawer.
The school where she was hired has no idea what they have gotten themselves into.
She is NOT your average mortal. Highly conscientious, Missus is a natural problem solver and anticipates and kills obstacles to functionality like an engineer.
That’s what she is, a caregiving engineer. Though frankly, I used to call her “Miss Bossy” with all the love the moniker deserves, out of respect for the force of nature that she is.
I know that she is scheming how to match need with resource even now. Perhaps she’s eyeing the accumulated clothing, pondering how she will sew “which to what for whom.”
Meanwhile, back at the school, the cutest kid ever, his tongue sticking out and eyes sparkling with excitement, went up to ALL the adults ALL DAY LONG and poked them to get their attention.
Then he’d point at them assuredly and then down at his new old boots excitedly, snuffling in excitement while nodding his head, pointing at them, his boots, at them, at his boots.
This is the day…