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When Stasch Came

I did not meet Stasch' mother when Stasch came to live with Orel and me. His mother's husband, Gavriel, brought him and he also brought Stasch' older brother, Oisin. The drove a day and a half down from Duluth, Minnesota which is where Orel and I both used to live. We came to Greenup so Orel and his friend, Ronald, could start a printing business, but that is another story. Maybe I'll tell it some time.

Stasch leaped out of the car and he was a blond blur. I figured at first: "Poor kid. He's traumatized being away from his mom and with a dad he hasn't seen in six months." I lost my sympathy very quickly. It is hard to be sympathetic to a three year old Tasmanian Devil. It is even harder when it is your walls he bounces from and your apartment he threatens to destroy and your peace he steals.

I asked Orel what gave with the little boy. At least he was not pissing his pants and could tie his shoes, but he could hardly talk. He could talk actually but the words came out all garbled like they were tripping all over each other to be heard.

Orel told me Stasch was hyperactive. I said there were pills for that. Orel said he did not want Stasch made a zombie. I said either Stasch got medicated, Stasch went back to Duluth, or I went back to Duluth. We weren't worrying much about Oisin. He was kind of an innocent bystander at this point. I had to put my foot down several times to get through to Orel but in the end we took Stasch to a doctor and he got his Ritalin. He requires a fairly good dose and has some insomnia but the pills work.

We also got early intervention for Stasch. They wanted to put him in speech therapy. I said he talked pretty well now that he wasn't all hyper, and I wanted him to spend time learning his letters, numbers, and colors. The only thing I knew about three year old children were girls. Girls like all that kind of thing and learn fast.

Stasch got educational therapy and speech therapy and I started him learning the alphabet. Actually, he had a lot more to learn. If you spend your days zooming around and bouncing off walls and tearing things up, there is just a lot of the world you don't pay attention to, because you need to be quiet and just look and listen to learn. I used to tell this to Stasch' teachers. "He's not dumb. He's just behind. I never see a misbuttoned shirt on that kid when he dresses. His shoes are tied. He even makes his bed." Stasch also wasn't the kind to throw temper tantrums. He was a nice mature little boy. Garbled or not, he told me what he wanted.

In short, I had one good kid, and even if I did not give birth to him, he is mine. Stasch learned to read and write in kindergarten. I wanted that because with neither Orel nor me college educated and with us living in an apartment over the print shop here in the lovely South End, you know the kinds of things people think, especially since Stasch has ADHD. Oisin leaves them all surprised and it helps that he is really good in school, but people still say things. Once they learn how far along Stasch is in school, they shut their mouths. I like it a lot better that way.

I just wish people would get off my case about the bikes. Both my boys ride their bikes to school. Kids can be nasty and Oisin doesn't need twenty minutes a day each way of that on the school bus and Stasch can use the exercise and discipline. The riding is in daylight and Oisin goes with Stasch so I know they keep safe. There is nothing irresponsible about having your kids commute by bike. I did it from the time I was eight and I'm a fine upstainding citizen and all in one piece, and I had no older sister or brother to ride with me.

The hardest time I had with Stasch once he settled down was sending him to the lady in Duluth for two weeks. That is what I call Stasch and Oisin's mother. Her real name is Faith Poppel, and she did not change it when she married Gavriel Schwarz. She has had two daughter with Gavriel. I don't judge. I would like a daughter, but my body is not as fertile as it was when I was nineteen. I'll leave it there. Maybe some day, I'll tell that story too.

I drove the boys up with Orel the first time or two. Other times, we've flown them out of Cincinnati. Last year, we put them on the Greyhound bus. Oisin comes home moody. I get his eloquent emails. Stasch does not always get his medications. You can imagine how he comes back. You can imagine how angry this makes me. If someone has a problem, take care of it. Maybe my not giving birth to Stasch has made all the difference. I love him like a son, but there are times when I can be objective. Stasch is my little boy though and no objectivity changes that.

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