lessons. At first I had wanted enough evidence to prove him wrong about Chris’s abilities to understand and be understood. Now though, I was feeling kind of protective of the fragile strand of connection that I shared with Chris. He had chosen to talk to me, and I didn’t want to give up our secret. I was afraid that it might be taken out of my control before we could explore where it might lead. ‘Is asking how he gets to school confidential?’ ‘I guess not. The home he lives in has a special van that lifts Chris’s chair onto it. The staff who work at his home drop him off and pick him up every day in the van.’ ‘Like the way wheelchairs get on the bus?’ I had been onthe bus when it came to a stop where someone in a wheelchair wanted to get on. The whole bus lowered down, the person wheeled on and then the bus lifted up again. ‘Same kind of thing, only the lift is hydraulically raised and lowered, rather than the bus.’ ‘What does he do at home? Like, does he have anything he’s interested in?’ I launched into another question. ‘Now you are getting outside of my knowledge. There’s a dividing line between school and home, same as for you,’ Mr Jenkins said. ‘I could probably arrange for you to go and visit Chris in his home though if you are interested.’ ‘Cool. I’d like that.’
Things were better than they had ever been at home. I was making sure of that. I still left the house before Mom began to stir, but I made sure that her medication was ready for her, and that her favourite breakfast, French toast and bacon, was prepared and ready to be put in the microwave when she woke up. Then I rang her after first period class. ‘Wake up call, Mom,’ I said, trying to sound as cheerful as possible. ‘Thanks, Jo,’ she mumbled, never much of a morning person. ‘What are the plans for today?’ Every night I helped her towrite down what she was going to do while I was at school. For once Mom was going along with something that might actually help her. After talking with Dr Sharon I had thought about what it was that often began Mom’s spiral into uncontrollable thoughts and feelings. She had too much time on her hands. A job was not a possibility. She always ended up quitting or being fired. Mom didn’t value things that employers usually felt were important, like being on time and staying until quitting time. She also wasn’t even able to operate in the normal world of filling time with the things that needed to get done: cleaning the house, cooking, doing the shopping, paying the bills. These had been my concerns as long as I had been able to do those things. I supposed it must have been Grandma who made sure the major things were done before that. I remembered there used to be a cleaning lady who came in once a week, which Mom had hated, and eventually she had literally chased her out, with a broom. So Mom needed a project. She needed something to focus her energy and mind. She could spend days or weeks obsessively learning about something she was interested in, writing copious notes that filled every surface in the house. This could be dangerous territory though because she was usually interested in some controversial cause that got her all upset. And she usually gotupset in a crazy sort of way. Plus she needed to see people. When she was in the routine of going to the drop-in mental health clinic she was always more steady, but she usually only did this in spurts, when she was focused on being normal, mostly for my sake. And this could lead to rants about her guilt about being a crazy mother. So, going to the clinic was not ideal either. Mom had come up with a project herself. She was developing a series of workshops for kids to introduce the classic children’s books. Then she planned to go to the libraries and community centres to see about putting them on. ‘It’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe today, Jo,’ Mom said, suddenly sounding much more awake.