Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Special Specialist

Many therapists come and go in our special education classroom.

Some are kind of good, I guess. It's never quite clear what they are doing, but they leave looking drained and defeated, so I figure they are at least trying.

But some of the therapists are crazy:

Kitty is a Braille expert.

She thinks the rest of the world is worthless because they refuse to learn Braille.

Kitty believes they should put Braille on billboards, so blind drivers can stop their cars, rub their fingers over giant Braille letters, and realize the nearest McDonald's is only a half mile away.

Because she is partially deaf but refuses to wear her hearing aid, Kitty is always loud.

She often yells observations about my lunch choices:

You may have noticed from my photorealistic renderings: Kitty is very handsy with others. 

She is known for sidling up behind people and intimately embracing them, the way you would approach a lover in front of a mirror, wrap your arms softly around their waist, and whisper, "hey, princess" into their ear.

Kitty mostly Princess hugs other women, but I make sure to never turn my back on her.

Anyways, no matter what I am having for lunch, Kitty always ends her commentary with "It looks better than what I'm having...."

I am not a social brainfart; I know this is my cue to tilt my head to a listening position, open my eyes anime-wide, and ask, "oh no....what do you have for lunch today? Is it diarrhea again?"

But I just can't bring myself too. I can't go down that road in our relationship because I don't know where it will lead. 

She may expect me to sample her various broths and chowders, brought in a tall metal thermos, and have hurt feelings when I decline.

It's laughably easy to hurt those feelings, though they are most injured when people act disrespectfully to Braille. 

Our blind student, Regna, mistakenly Brailled the title to the Temptations classic "My Girl" as "My But Girl".

Kitty became very angry. 


"Yes," Regna answered nervously, each time Kitty repeated the incorrect title of the song. She scanned her fingers over the Braille again. "It says 'My But Girl'."

The conversation became stuck in a loop of everyone either asking "My But Girl?" or stating "My But Girl". 

You wouldn't think an exchange like this could continue on for more than, say, two volleys, but somehow, it did. I really liked it.

Whenever we sing "Happy Birthday" in the class, Kitty announces that she knows how to sing it in Dutch.

She waits a moment, allowing us time to say incredulous things like "Really?", or "No way. That's impossible. Prove it by singing it right now, really loudly, with strange, Wagnerian gravity, or get the hell out of here."

But nobody says anything.

For some reason, the Dutch version of "Happy Birthday" is seven minutes long and involves flinging a lot of imaginary bouquets from your bosoms. 

Kitty soldiers through it while not a single person, staff or student, gives her any kind of attention at all. Like it's not really happening.

She finishes by bowing her head.

We recently had to attend a meeting on mental health.

The presenter began his remarks by stating that fifty-percent of the homeless population in our county are mentally ill.

"HOLY SHIT!" bellowed Kitty, from her folding chair in the front row.

Everyone stared at her.

"DID HE JUST SAY FIFTY PERCENT OF PEOPLE ARE CRAZY???" she asked the teacher next to her.

"Fifty percent of homeless people," her neighbor whispered back.

"OH. PHEW. I WAS GOING TO SAY. THAT WOULD MEAN HALF OF EVERYBODY IN HERE WAS NUTS." She turned in her chair to look at all of us. Seeing no evident mental illness, she gave a satisfied nod and turned back.

The presenter cleared his throat and began his Powerpoint again. 

Several slides later, Kitty Frokee fell asleep.

She slumbered through the whole meeting, a professional among her peers, and her snores were surprisingly quiet.


  1. Was it a natural sleep Kitty fell into or would close inspection find, perhaps, a dart embedded in her neck and a visibly relieved coworker whistling happily to himself? :)

    1. Ha! That would be awesome. I have seen Kitty coming towards the back door of our classroom and sprinted straight out the front door with a few of the nimbler students in tow. She is hard to take.

  2. Gweenbrick,

    I have been a silent follower for a long time, years in fact. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your work. I find you funny, poignant, informative and just all around enjoyable.

    I have an Autistic son and your life in the classroom makes me smile so much. Thank you for bringing these kids to life, so often they are disappeared to make others more comfortable.

    Your approach speaks of love and compassion and I only wish someone like you were around my son in the class room when he was growing up. Keep up the great work and congrats on the newest member of your family.

    An Admirer

  3. Replies
    1. Hi Julie! I am running behind on my comment replies, but thanks for going back and reading the recent ones. I am glad you liked them

  4. Oh my! I know a couple of people just like Kitty!

    1. At my job there are whole rooms full of people like Kitty. It's scary.

  5. Mental illness? I think its closer to 110 percent.

    1. It's both.She gives it her all, but her all is crazy.

  6. Thank you for your sharing. They can show a happy smile. They are all your help. I never knew the life of these special children. I hope you can share more and let the world treat them kindly.