Thirty-two: Survey Says

A long, three-day weekend passes. Dr. Ivy League does not return my call.  I imagine her enjoying a matinee of Cabaret followed by a late lunch in the city with a bevy of salt-and-pepper-haired colleagues. Everyone is wearing Eileen Fisher and too much perfume and at least one woman wears a festive hat.

“Oh, the parents!”, someone says when they start talking shop, and they all roll their eyes in unison. “Remember when parents just paid us? Now it’s all these questions!

Meanwhile, in real life David comforts me with science. He essentially repackages Dr. Ivy’s message, explaining the amount of time it takes for people to adjust to medicine, and how everyone is different because genetics. Dora will even out any day now, he says, clicking off his bedside light and submitting to sleep nigh immediately.

I want to believe David but I’m not exactly wired for trust and patience.  My company pays me to imagine and avert the many ways a product or a project could fly off the rails. It’s the perfect job for people like me who are more parts Smokey The Bear and less parts Jack Johnson. I was probably a lighthouse in a former life.

I lay awake blinking in the dark playing a fun game called, “Normal Or Not?” In this game I replay selected scenes from the day and assign them a value of Normal or Not.

Let’s play.

Scene one.

Dora, who loves music, now demands the car radio be turned “all the way off” approximately one mile before the school entrance, “so that no one hears” what we’re listening to.

Survey says: Normal.  

Perhaps, except for this part:  I once turned the music up just to be a funny, embarrassing mom. I did this well before we pulled into the school parking lot; no one heard a thing.   Dora instantly became frantic, pushing my hand away from the radio dial and pleading with me to stop the car and turn the music off.  It took her several minutes to calm down.On a scale of Funny to Embarrassing this event was Alarming.

Survey reevaluates:  Not Normal.

Next scene.

Every single day Dora begs me not to send her to school.

Survey says: Normal. 

Normally I’d agree, except for this: she cries for me not to send her. She cannot articulate why she doesn’t want to go. No one is mean to her.  No one has touched her in a private place (“Of course not! Mom!”) She likes her teachers.  Her stomach doesn’t hurt. She is not sick. When pressed, she just doesn’t know why she doesn’t want to go.

Survey says: Not Normal. 

Next scene.

My parents take Dora to see a local high school play. Dora refuses to enter the theatre from the lobby because her ticket says “Student” and she is not a high school student. After much convincing and a few bribes, Dora reluctantly enters the theatre. She is too nervous to enjoy the play and just wants to go home.

Survey says: Not Normal!

I sit up in bed. Survey is so right.

Survey says: Why is Dr. Ivy not returning your call?

The clock says it is two thirty-seven in the morning.

Survey says: Who cares? Call Dr. Ivy again!

I sneak into the hallway and leave Dr. Ivy another message.

Survey says: Good job.

David says: <Zzzzzzz>

Frankie says: Relax.

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