Thursday, December 22, 2016

December 22: Secret Santa, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, "Orange Day"

Yesterday, my son had a Secret Santa exchange in his third grade classroom.  Each child was supposed to bring one gift to give to a classmate.  My son brought three gifts because he wanted to.

It turns out that there were two children who didn't brings gifts.  My son gave out his extra presents, and every student in the classroom had a Secret Santa.  Later on in the day, my son's teacher texted my wife this message:  "Gestures like his today far outweigh his struggles."

My son has been diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder and attention deficit disorder.  He has a hard time controlling himself sometimes.  My wife and I have made many trips to the principal's office since he entered kindergarten.

Those words from his teacher left me a little speechless for a moment.  I think that I tend to focus on my son's struggles a little too much, and I forget to see his generous, loving spirit.

So, tonight, I dedicate this post to my son.

Orange Day

by:  Martin Achatz

My son had an orange day
in kindergarten, stuck crayons
in his ears, red in his left,
yellow in his right.  Chased
kids at morning recess,
tried to lick them, his tongue
a pink bullet in the barrel
of his mouth.  Sat under his desk,
screamed like a peacock at dusk,
roosted in dogwood above Georgia
clay, while his classmates practiced
their numbers:  1, 2, 3, 4, up to 100.
Took off his shoes, socks, spread
his monkey toes, picked up
a brush with them, painted
water lilies in a pond on the floor
where sunlight sparked purple,
pink.  Chewed his mac and cheese
at lunch to orange glue, spat it
on the table, made a map of Hannibal's
journey over the Alps, raisin
elephants on the highest peaks.
Beat plastic drums in music class,
refused to make that damn spider
climb the water spout, instead
played Ligeti's Atmospheres,
moonrise over the monolith
of his chimpanzee heart.
His teacher calls me at night, says
she's at a loss with my son,
doesn't know what to do
with his untamed ways.
I want to tell her it's all about
evolution, that he's learning
how to walk upright, hunt
through pinecone and maple
for blueberries, slabs of bloody
venison.  Give him time, I want
to say.  To learn the agriculture
of her classroom, its fields, furrows,
seasons of alphabet, trapezoid,
computer and gym.  In this epoch,
he won't be caught in tar lakes
underneath asteroid rain.  He will
survive, become a new link.
Homo kindergartenus.  Note
the wide scoop of his skull to accommodate
all he will know by year's end.
His cave drawings hang on our fridge.
Concentric orange circles, bull's-eyes.
"See," my son points, "this is King
Pumpkin.  He's bigger and oranger
than the rest."  I stare at his paintings,
feel the planet skip, stars reorganize,
something end, something begin.
The dawning of a new age.
Tonight, I'll pack his lunch,
for another orange day.
Apple juice, carrot sticks,
maybe a grilled cheese sandwich.
It's supposed to rain tomorrow,
enough to make the mastodons
hunker down in the woods,
orange hair slick with mud, moss.
Maybe my son will find
them there, in the trees
behind the playground.  He'll climb
into their orange center where all
he can hear is breaths.
Deep, orange breaths.
He'll skip school.  Stay there
for the rest of the day.
Happy.  Wild.  Orange.

Please vote for Saint Marty:

Voting for next Poet Laureate of the U. P.

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