14 December, 2009


Lucy just spotted a shattered glass in the china cabinet. It's really surprising it's taken this long to have something break in there considering the fragile contents, and the fact that the china cabinet is still standing at all is rather amazing since it is seems to be in the direct path of most children who visit the house, and is on Jake's twirly evening path when he starts doing laps around the upstairs.

The china cabinet has been in my family for years and years. I think I am at least the fourth generation to have it in my house. It's filled with tea cups from my great, great aunts, and old keys Descartes and I found in a flea market in Nice, and a dashboard hula girl I use to determine whether we've had an earthquake (is she shimmying?), and a raku duck from Canada and the champagne glasses we used to toast our future on our wedding day.

It was one of those beautiful Flutes that must have fallen over last night when Jake used the china cabinet as a football training sled. It fell on to a rocks glass of unknown origin, and cracked the smaller glass into multiple pieces of jagged expensive lead crystal.

I found the key to the old lock in a bowl on top of the cabinet and opened up the doors. Lucy was so excited to see inside. I showed her the artifacts of my life while she held the little key to the cabinet. She ran her little fingers over hand blown glass, and we talked about the words "mementos" and "keepsakes". We talked about champagne and raku ducks, and caring for things so we can pass them on to the next generation. Then Lucy dropped the key into a little toy bucket that happened to be on the floor near the cabinet.

"We can put the key in there mom, and Jake will never find it because he's not smart."

My heart shattered. I got tears in my eyes and a lump in my stomach.

She knew by my face she had done something wrong. She immediately asked to "stop playing glasses and eat some pancakes." I asked her to come sit with me for a minute to talk about what she had said and she didn't want to. She was visibly uncomfortable.

I wasn't angry, I just wanted to talk with her. I know children are mean to each other all the time. My brother called me stupid and ugly, and many other nasty things when we were tweens and though it is extremely rare now, I'm sure he's called me a bitch more than once in the last ten years, and I know he loves me. I know we say mean things about each other all the time, but Lucy has never made a comment about Jake's disabilities except to tell Grandma once, "Uhm, hims doesn't talk so much."

So I convinced her to sit in my lap, and I asked her to not ever call her brother stupid again. She got very defensive and said, "I did not say he was stupid, I said he wasn't smart!" Which shows you exactly how I heard the words. Which of course sent me down a rabbit hole worrying that I had actually added negative vocabulary..blah blah blah.

and so I gave her a quick couple sentences... "We don't always know how much Jake knows because he has a hard time communicating with us, so it's possible, indeed likely, that he understands a lot more than we think." and "There are going to be people out in the world who are not going to be kind to our family or to Jake because they will think he's different, but you are supposed to be on his team, so please don't ever say words like that again."

and innocently she said, "I'm sorry mommy, I just wanted to hide the key so Jake wouldn't get into the cabinet and hurt himself on the glass."
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