How It Happened Chapter 39 (38 part 2)

I said I'd have the rest of this up this weekend, and I'm, making it just under the wire here. This is for all my VERY patient readers! Thank you for the wonderful and positive reviews. I'm glad you liked the fishing trip! I had been wanting to write that into the story for a while now. Lots of Love!

-Kelly :)

We enrolled Christian in pre-school this fall. He can almost write his whole name. He gets the C, h, r, i, t and n. S and lowercase a are giving him some trouble but we're working with him at home. He seems to really enjoy listening to stories and looking at books. His favorite activities involve numbers...

April 1987

"Hey Carry, can we make some time this evening to discuss a situation?" I carefully approach my husband in his office. This case he's been working on has been taking so much extra time. We're down to family dinners only two to three times a week and I've had to resort to making appointments with him to discuss household issues. "It's got a deadline and I think we need to make a decision."

"Hmm?" He hasn't even looked up from the pile in front of him. I really should let him be, but I received the paperwork a week ago and it needs to be returned by Thursday. "Does it really need me, Grace? Can you make this one alone?" Still reading…

"Carrick… Yes it needs you. I don't feel I want to make this decision by myself. We are both his parents, and we should both agree on what to do." That gets a reaction.

"Who? I mean… Which one? What happened?" He really needs to take a break. I can see it in his face. Those are some very dark circles. Thank goodness summer is coming soon. "The big one or the small one?" Is he serious?

"You mean your sons, Elliot and Christian?" I think he can tell by my tone I didn't appreciate that comment. "They do have names, Carry." At least he's looking a little sheepish now. "And it's about 'the small one.' You do remember which one that is, don't you?"

"Grace, please? I'm sorry it came out that way. I was just focused here and… Can't it wait?"

"No. I just told you, there's a dead line." I hand him the paperwork and he rubs his eyes. Is it just my imagination, or is he looking older?

"Kindergarten Registration…" He looks up at me with a questioning expression. "I guess my input is 'yes?' How is this a decision we need to make? He has to go to school. Is this about which school? I figured he'd just go to Elliot's…" He hands me back the paper and I just about rip it out of his hands.

"No Carrick! It's not about which school. It's about do we even send him!" I drop myself down in the tall wingback chair in a huff. I don't even want to look at him right now, but I don't look away either. "Have you even lived in this house for the past several months?!" Oooh. I knew as I said it that was not the thing to say. And that's not an expression I see very often. I immediately regret that last comment. I know I should apologize, but maybe it's best I just keep quiet right now.

He leans back in his chair and I can tell that hit him hard. "That's not fair, Grace." I'm not sure which is worse; the tone of his voice or his facial expression. One is anger, the other is hurt.

"I know. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean it to come out that way…" I want to wrap my arms around him and let him know how sorry I am for that comment, but I'm not sure he'd accept it right now. We sit silently looking at each other for a few moments. "Really. I am very sorry about that. Can we just continue? Please?"

He's quiet another moment and I almost get up to leave. But he rubs his hands through his hair and lets out a deep sigh. "Fine. What is the question? Do we send him? Why wouldn't we?"

"Well…," I couch my words to assure an even tone. I really don't want him to think I'm coming at him in attack mode. We really should make this decision together. "He's not talking yet. I worry that the whole experience could be too much for him and with no way to… Or at least no 'acceptable' way to express himself, it will just be too much for him, right now." Carrick hasn't changed his expression. I don't know if he's thinking this over or just waiting for me to finish so he can get back to work. "I mean, maybe this is exactly what he needs; to spend time with other children his age and socialize… It could bring him out of his shell and maybe hearing other children talking all day will encourage him to do so as well." Still nothing from Carrick. "On the other hand, it's every school day. What if it's too much? What if he just gets overwhelmed? But then again, he's so smart! I think he may very well be reading already. I've seen him look at a book for a while then play with his toys and act out the story. And some of it is not even in the pictures…" I'm getting myself so worked up over this whole thing and Carrick hasn't even batted an eyelash. "So, we need to discuss this. I want this to be a joint decision, Carry." Now it's my turn to be a little sheepish. "Do you have any thoughts on the matter… Counselor?"

That gets a soft chuckle, and another rub through the hair. "Actually, yes I do, Doctor…" He leans forward and folds his hands on his desk. "But first I have to ask, what's the offer on the table?" What? What is he talking about? "I assume there's a contract starting… What would that be?" He looks up and is doing some sort of calculation in his head. I have no idea why. "... 2001?" I am totally lost. I'm sure my expression is relaying this to him, but he's just staring at me. "You know… the year he turns 18? I assume your emotional reaction to this situation is because there is some contract for a job offer that only takes effect if he graduates in 2001 instead of 2002?" I'm still not following him here. And yes I'm a bit emotional. We're talking about our son! "I didn't think so. Yes, he needs to go to school. But really? What's the big hurry? So he waits another year. So what?"

"But don't you think he needs it?"

"What, school or the socialization? School? He can wait. It won't cause a problem. The socialization? Hell yes. But he can get that at a pre-school can't he? And a pre-school wouldn't be every day. I think we need to ease him into the whole school thing. Maybe he'll do so well we can move him into Kindergarten later, or skip it all together and just go right to first grade…" I'm not sure I like THAT idea, at all. "But we can cross that bridge when we come to it, Grace." I sit stunned for a few moments. I'm really impressed he has this much to put into the conversation. "Oh, and I've already checked. There's a pre-school right in the church. It's a Co-op or something. We'd have to be there some of the time. Like once a month or once a week…" He's reaching into drawer and brings out a pamphlet that he now hands to me to look at. I didn't realize he'd thought about this in this much detail. "If you think he'd do better in Kindergarten, we can send him this fall. I think it may be more academic than the pre-school. I've even heard that some schools are going to all-day Kindergarten classes. And I agree he's pretty damned smart. He may get bored with pre-school, but I do think we should start small."

I look down at the two papers in my hands. I feel conflicted. On one hand I don't want Christian to be any farther behind than he already is, so maybe we should just go right to Kindergarten. On the other hand, this pre-school looks like it would be a better transition for him.

I look closer at the pamphlet and wonder at how I didn't know about this place. We're there every Sunday. It does say Co-op, so we'd have to schedule one of us to take part of a day to attend with him, periodically. Maybe that would be for the better. We can talk with the teachers and other parents about his special circumstances. They don't need to know all the details, but I definitely think Christian will do better in this kind of environment first.

I take a deep breath and look up at my husband, who isn't giving anything away with his expression. He did quite a bit of leg work on this and I didn't even know it. And I just accused him of not being here for his family. "OK. I think we should go the pre-school route. It seems to be what he needs and a lot less constricting. Thank you…" I hang my head, "… for doing this. For getting all this information… And I'm so sorry I insinuated…" Somehow without my knowing it, Carrick has come around his desk to me, and is wrapping me in a deep embrace.

"Hey. Stop it." I feel his kiss on my forehead. "I understand your concerns and I'm sorry this case is taking so much of my time away from you and the boys… We knew it would when it got assigned to me…" We take a few more moments together and I take a deep breath.

"You should get back to what you were doing. I think this situation is settled." I smile at him and get up to leave. He lets me up but doesn't let go of my hand. "Carry?"

"Come with me. We should check on the boys, and I need to take a break anyway." He heads my out of his office and up the stairs.

September 1987

Elliot is dragging this morning. It's amazing how the first week of school, he was so eager to go. I heard all about every little detail. And just two weeks later, you'd think I was torturing the poor boy; making him go to school every day. "But Mom! School is so boring. I know all this already. We're just doing stuff we did last year. And how come there's so much more work in second grade? I have homework two nights! Every week! I think my teacher is just trying to make us waste our play time to write spelling words. I already know how to spell those words. Except September. Is it a d , or a t?"

But while Elliot is going on about his waste of time that is second grade, Christian is the surprise. He knows he gets to start pre-school today. We've talked to him about it for weeks now. We talked about it all summer. We had it marked on the calendar, and counted down the days with him. But he has absolutely no expression that there's anything different about today. I've talked with him about what he'll do there, the other children, the toys, the books… We even had a 'meet the teacher' day where he got to see the room and meet Miss Angie. I volunteered to do day one, knowing he'd have some issues and I know how to address them. He's sitting at the table eating his breakfast like it's any other day. Isn't every child excited about the first day of school? Why isn't mine?

Elliot is still holding forth about why he doesn't need to go to school and I can see it's wearing on Christian. "…'Cause Becky E, there's two Becky's in my class, a Becky E and a Becky L, and Becky E sits by me but I don't like her, so I just don't even talk to her, except that one time when I couldn't find my pencil and I didn't want to ask Mrs. Collins because she gets upset if you lose your pencil too many times, and it wasn't my fault 'cause I left my pencil right on my desk when we went to the library…" What? Is there even a point to this story? What is he going on about? Oh, and Christian has stopped eating and has his hands over his ears. Past experience tells me…

"Elliot! Enough." I hear my husband before he even enters the kitchen. "You are at the table. No more talking. Eat." Carrick gives me a kiss on the check and walks over to kiss the tops of our two boys' heads. Elliot looks chagrinned, but Christian gives him an expression of gratitude. "So you get to start school today too, Little Man. Excited?" He is either oblivious to Christian's lack of expression, or is trying to get a little energy into him. "And Mommy gets to go with you, too! I think you'll like it. I get to go with you next week. I'm looking forward to it." What a crock. I just wish I had a way to see Mr. High-Powered Lawyer sitting in those tiny chairs playing with play dough. But it was nice that Carrick offered to alternate with me.

We get everyone's breakfast finished and teeth brushed. Carrick takes Elliot to his school and I get Christian to the church about ten minutes early. I arranged this with Miss Angie, so he'd be there when it was quiet, and maybe not get overly upset as the noise grew. I was afraid he wouldn't want to go in, if there was too much going on, upon arrival. She reminded Christian where to put his jacket, and he was a little more excited to see his name on both the hook and cubbie. He held on to my hand as he walked around re-acclimating himself to the room. He stopped at the book area and wanted me to read to him. I told him there would be a story from Miss Angie in a little while. I know it's co-op, but I want him to get used to other people, not just me. He takes a closer look at the toy area. Of course Christian goes right for the flying toys, and I actually see a small smile. It isn't long before some of the other children begin to arrive. It gets noisier and now there are children around he doesn't know. He makes a dash to hide behind my legs, and a part of me wants to just take him home and wait until next year. But When Miss Angie comes to take his hand, and he actually goes with her, I know we're doing the right thing…

Again, we cannot express our gratitude to you enough, Aaron. Have a wonderful holiday and blessed New Year.

Sincerely,

Grace and Carrick Grey

Carrick looks at me and I know he's conflicted. "OK. It's not… bad. I guess I'm just unsure about this. I know. We told him we would, but…" He hands me the pile of photos and the card. I silently put all the pieces together in the envelope and seal it shut. I quickly, but silently address the envelope and put it in the pile to be mailed tomorrow. Then I take my husband's hand and we head upstairs.

After a quick peek in at the boys, we note that Elliot is getting better at staying on the bed, and tonight seems relatively calm for Christian. He hasn't had class for a few days and he seems to do better when he's been at school. I don't know if it just gives him better dreams, or he's just used more energy so he sleeps more soundly. Either way, I'm thankful for the positive change. I just hope it stays that way.