Friday, June 1, 2012
How We Do It, Part XII in a series
The physical education teacher insists on assigning Sophie an F on her report card with a U -- unsatisfactory -- under Work Habits. Sophie doesn't get to school on time for adaptive physical education, the first period of the day because she has difficulty waking. She has a cluster of seizures nearly every morning and then, later, during breakfast, a larger one. She takes two anti-epileptic drugs that, despite their inefficacy in preventing these seizures, are efficacious in promoting a simultaneous drowsy and agitated reaction about a half hour after ingestion. Sometimes, as I'm dressing her, Sophie will lie back, close her eyes and sleep. I let her sleep whenever she's sleeping and have never woken her up purposely from sleep because I know sleep as a principle. I have spent a lifetime of hours awake with Sophie, as a baby, as a toddler, as a child, as a pre-teen, as a teenager. I have a spent a lifetime of hours awake with Sophie crying, seizing, seizing, crying, awake, awake, awake. When she sleeps, she sleeps. I have explained this to the adaptive physical education teacher and the special education coordinator, have explained this history of sleep and awake, yet it makes no difference and the card comes in the mail, the faint black box with FAIL and UNSATISFACTORY and it irks me in its smallness, its meanness, its deference to the way things should be, the tyranny of should over how we must do it, by the skin of the teeth, the closing of the eyes, the held breath over the descent, the obdurate giving way to ease.