I’ve been doing this job (parenting) for 8,925 days, and I still suck at it. You’d think with all of the on-the-job training I’ve had, I would have figured things out by now, but noooooo – it’s always something new, and it seems to take forever for the light bulb to finally go off…..
The latest escapade involves library books. Now, with the first 3 girls, it was relatively easy to find books when they were overdue – just pick up the last 3-4 inches of accumulated clothes, school papers, toys, what have you, and lo and behold, there they would be. Did I mention I’m a LOUSY housekeeper? My philosophy is that “Dust is a protective cover for furniture.” (It’s worked for me this long; I’m not about to change…..)
Rebecca is another story entirely. (Like I said, just when you think you have it all figured out…..) At her school, they are allowed to check out 1 library book each week. They are put in a special Ziploc bag, and all of the kids are very excited to bring their book home with them. At the end of the week, they turn in their book, and the next week they get to check out another one.
If they forget their book at home, they don’t get to check out a book until the other book makes its way back to school. Easy enough, right? You’d think so, but in Rebecca’s case, you’d be oh, so wrong.
It’s not that we don’t have enough books around our house – we LOVE books; we’re a family of readers. But apparently Rebecca thinks that we don’t have the RIGHT books around our house, because EVERY STINKING TIME that she brings a book home, it disappears. Fast. Like within 10 minutes of us getting home fast. So far, we owe her school for 3 books and counting.
And it’s not for lack of looking, either – we have combed the house numerous times, trying to locate these books. Every once in a while, one will miraculously pop up, and I hang onto it like grim death until we get to school the next day – I know that if Rebecca gets her grubby little paws on it before I am able to return it, we won’t ever see it again.
So I’ve been berating myself for being a bad parent ever since this started (it’s going on 2 years now). Then this morning, it hit me – Alzheimer’s. Not me, mind you (no comment), but Rebecca. The brains of people with DS are remarkably similar to those of people with Alzheimer’s. And for people with DS, that “process” starts from conception. It’s why it takes them so long to learn things (happily, their brains are still “young” when the process “starts”, so they are able to work around the neurons that keep getting shut off).
This morning I remembered conversations that I had with people at church who had talked about some of the challenges of dealing with older family members of theirs who had/have Alzheimer’s. And I remembered some of them talking about how their loved ones were so good at hiding things. So good, in fact, that NO ONE in the family was ever able to figure out where those hiding places were.
And if they ever FOUND their loved one’s hiding places, all bets were off, because once a person with Alzheimer’s realizes that their “special” place has been discovered, they just go and find a new one. The old one isn’t “safe” any longer.
Well, I finally figured out that’s what’s going on with Rebecca. She likes her library books SO much – and probably doesn’t want to have to return them – that she hides them. The problem is that she forgets where her hiding places are. And they are hidden so well, that none of us have ever been able to figure out where they might be.
So I talked to the staff at Rebecca’s school. As of today, she is cut off. No more library books are coming home with her. It took 2 years to finally figure out that a 10-year-old child with Down syndrome is more clever than both of her parents with all of their book learnin’ combined.
We are so screwed…..
[update: The library book “ban” is at OUR request – we can’t keep replacing all of these books. She will still get to “check out” books and read them in the classroom, we’ve just asked that they not be sent home with her.]