Sunday, October 09, 2011

The fall of never wills

This is the fall of never wills.

With two kids on the spectrum, a husband with chronic headaches, three part-time writing contracts, church responsibilities, and a rabbit, I don't take on extra things lightly. There were certain things that I said I'd never do:

1. I never will take in boarders,
2. I never will get a dog,
3. I never will put my child in private school.

I need a nap the day after overnight company because I can't rest when other people are around; how could I ever relax with people in my house 24/7? I don't even like other people's cute little pooches yapping and jumping on me, why would I want to scoop 15 years of poop for my own? And why pay thousands of dollars and drive across the city for an education when there are good public schools down the street?

1. The boarders: This fall, our niece and her husband needed a place to stay until they found their own apartment in the city. I didn't feel an immediate "no" inside, so I figured it must be a good idea. After all, it would only be temporary, and if I had to pick someone, another introvert who has to still like us next Christmas (and every Christmas after) is a safe bet.

It was a good incentive to clean out the guest room closets, rearrange the basement, and shampoo the carpets. Two weeks of work and ten years worth of outdated computer equipment we wouldn't have gotten to without the deadline of boarders.

It's been a good experience. With extra adults around, I can run out for a few minutes without taking K and G, and finally more than one other person at the table appreciates my cooking. I like having someone to talk to about my day (I think my husband likes the break too). K and G love the extra attention from people younger and cooler than their parents. I admit, there have been moments when I wanted the privacy to yell at my own family in peace, but for the most part, parenting for an audience has kept me more patient and thoughtful.

2. The dog: All summer when we'd go camping, G would stand at the entrance to our site and wait for a dog to go by. She'd introduce herself, name the breed (she knew every one), and ask good questions. She didn't always wouldn't read books about anything but dogs. All her computer games were dog grooming games. She wouldn't always play with other children, but every dog was her friend.

I decided to go to the Humane Society and take a look. We talked to an adoption counsellor about what we were looking for: a small, quiet, mature, well-trained dog that's good with children and rabbits. Basically, I wanted Jesus with fur. The counsellor told us about a corgi cross, rescued from a reservation, that would be available the next day, and we could put her on reserve. We came back the next day, and after passing door after door of giant dog trying to break through windows, when they let the corgi into the room, she walked up to us, sat in front of us, and licked our hands.

Well, that did it. We've had her for a week and a half, and she's the sweetest thing. Lily wasn't trained when we got her, but she's caught on quickly. She follows us around the house and lies at our feet. I couldn't imagine any dog but Lily. She's a German shepherd on corgi legs, so she looks ridiculously long for a dog so short, but who could resist those eyes?

You will love me...

3. The school: After a couple difficult years of public school for K, we started looking into a specialized university-entrance school with small classes and teaching modalities geared toward ADHD. He had to switch schools anyway, since our public school only goes to grade 6. The bus stop is 2 km away, so waiting in the car for the bus twice a day adds an hour to my day. And the tuition is insane. But it is so worth it. No more daily calls from the school. No more wasting years in the library with an EA. No more being the one supported kid in the class. No more picking him up at all hours of the school day in tears (usually mine). When he jumps off that school bus, he's smiling. I bet he's learned more in the past month than he did in the past two grades. Private school definitely has its place.

So I'm a private school bus-chasing, poop-scooping landlord. Yeah. It turns out all the things I thought I couldn't handle, I can. I'm stronger than I thought. My heart is bigger than I thought. And that's a good thing. Who knows what Ange will tackle next?