Behaviour Clinic

By , June 10, 2010 2:02 pm

I sit here, wondering how it has got to this point.  Well, not so much wondering.  Just trying to meditate, to make peace with the universe, to understand, to somehow sympathise.  To circuit break.  But my blood just refuses to settle.  It spills out of me, invisible lava.  But in a far more controlled manor than Candace’s spit, which flicks from her bottom lip.

“It’s just not fair, you see,” she slurs, her cogitation slowing, the dopamine receptors blocking and unblocking in a clunky way, “and I think what you did was really not right.”

There you go.  There we have it.  She said it.  She managed to name it.

Welcome to Behaviour Clinic.

“What was it that you objected to most?” I say, as Declan swings upside down on his chair, his feet threatening to kick the X-ray box off the wall.

“He’s good at home.  He doesn’t have any of the problems like he’s having at school.”  I look again at Declan.  She doesn’t notice.

“Okay, Candace, but he had to be physically restrained.”

“That’s right, they were ganging up on him.”

“He had a knife, Candace.  Anyway…”

“…They were picking on him!”

“Yes.  Okay, that’s okay,” I say, my hands moving like a slow motion bongo drummer, “but we keep getting distracted.”  Declan kicks again at the lightbox.  I look at him.   He grins.  I dare.  He stops.  “I still don’t understand what it is that you object to about what I did?”

“I just don’t think it was right.”

“Which bit?”

“All of it.”
“I’m sorry Candace, you’re going to have to give me a little more specific than that…”

“…And then you talked to Robyn, which I never gave you permission.”

I pause, her non-sequitur speaking style making me dizzy.  I take another breath.

“She’s his worker.”

“I never gave you permission.”  Again, I pause.  Declan kicks the box.  I don’t even look.

“No, I guess you’re right.”  Declan somersaults back, bored by the lack of reaction, the chair falling as he does.  He jumps up and onto the bed, the sheet sliding to the floor, dirty shoe prints planted on white.  “But these appointments are often distracting,” I continue, “and I guess I assumed that – as his worker – you would be okay with that…”

“…And I just don’t think it’s right.  I think what you did is shit.”

I pause for a second and look at Declan.  This is the hard bit.  This is the really hard bit.  I’ve busted my arse for Declan.  I’ve had repeated conversations with his school, with his principal, who is also busting her arse.  She is currently trying to gain extra funding for Declan.  He is so disruptive at school that he needs one-on-one support.  But in the Government schools, this is a real battle.  Over the last few weeks, the principal has even started bringing her retired husband to sit with him.  To just be with him.  At our last appointment, Candace told me she was worried that Declan was going to give him a heart attack, and I don’t blame her.

Now that is commitment.  That is novel, and inventive, and committed.

“And the school has done nothing,” Candace chimes.

The kid is a mess.  He really is.  But it’s not his fault.  His mum has bipolar disorder.  She is on multiple psychotropic medications, which does few favours to her, and even fewer to her unborn infant – her fifth child to a third partner.  At least they don’t affect her fertility.

“And you’re doing nothing,” she adds, a piece of tooth-food landing on the edge of the desk.  “And I’ve been speaking to my lawyers about the whole thing.”

Okay, okay.  Like I said, this is the hard bit.  I do it to help the kids.  I really do.  But with this level of venom, a degeneration in a relationship that has gone this far, a threat of legal action, and I’m pulling the pin.  I’m here to help;  I’ve worked hard to help to this point.  But I’m not a punching bag.

“Look, Candace.  I have no problem – absolutely no problem,” I stress, the umpire hands again in action, “with you going and seeing someone else.  Of having a new Paediatrician.  I’m totally fine with that.”

She freezes.  Even Declan stops pumping up the blood pressure cuff for a moment.

“Oh, I didn’t mean that,” she says.  I can’t help but shake my head.

“Well, what am I meant to think, Candace?  You’re bringing in lawyers because I spoke to his worker.”

“I only spoke to one.”  That she’d seen advertised on daytime television.

I nod, and look at Declan again.  He smiles, and I feel it – a damaged, growing child trying to break out of his hell.  But my heckles are raised, I’m feeling the heat.  We’re done.

“Let’s just call it a day, Candace.  I don’t think we’re getting anywhere today.  Let’s just…”

“I only spoke to one!”

“I’ll call you in a few days.”

I open the door, and Candace looks stunned, muted, admonished.  I wonder how her addled brain will remember this interaction.

“Time to go, Declan.”  He bows his head, before jumping off the bed, his demeanour mirroring his mum’s, his feet making two more foot marks on the bedsheet next to the others.

“I’ll call you, Candace.”

“To say what?”  It’s the plea of a little girl, trying to understand what she’s done wrong.

“I’m not sure.”  I pause, waiting for something to come.  “I’m not sure.”

I shut the door, and hear the noise travel away, a gust of sounds that follows them always.  I look back down at the floor, at the impressions on the linen, like dance-step instructions;  an intro to break dancing.

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