What it’s like to be a parent to a child with Down syndrome on the first day of school after most of summer camp didn’t go particularly well and you were regularly summoned from your work—pulled, wrenched from your work— when the phone rings because there is some problem with your child, “problem child”, that needs dealing with.

Most commonly: “Can you come and pick her up?”:

It’s the first day of school, and I’m sitting at my eldest daughter’s desk, out of my element, because I’m keeping our new kitten Marvel company. She’s a marvel. The phone rings unexpectedly and I jump from my chair—I leap from my chair. Where is it? Where is it? Where’s my phone! How dare my phone escape my peripheral vision, my direct vision. My hand. The watch on my wrist is the thing vibrating telling me I have a call. I have a call! Where is the physical device, the talking piece. I need it. Now. NO CALLER ID is flashing at me. I know what that means! That means it’s got to be the school, it’s got to be the school. Elyse. She needs me. They need me. The school. Where’s the phone? Where is it? I need to answer this call. I have to. I need it now.

I run, go barreling, stompy-footed down the stairs, hand bracing against banister railing and then pause. Hold breath. Listen. Hear the vibration of phone shimming on wood table. Eyes dart across the room. The kitchen table. There it is! Must reach phone. Arms outstretched legs moving too slowly too slow this cumbersome body. GOT IT! Hold breath. Answer the damn phone.

            “Hello?” Calm, courteous, polite. Calm. CALM.

            “Hi Adelle, it’s the dentist’s office calling, are you able to switch your dentist appointment to this week instead of next week, we have an opening.” Breath slides out like a deflating balloon, but my heart swells.

            Yes, if that’s all that this is, then no problem. No problem at all. I’ll take any appointment you’ve got. Just, keep my kid, and make sure she’s happy and learning, will you?

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