Itzel had been Cole and Lucy’s daughter for a little over a year and a half. While they couldn’t imagine their life without her, there had been struggles they hadn’t been prepared to undertake. Social worker, Kenzie Goss had warned them that losing both parents in such a short time span would lead to years of grief, and they had understood how that would be so. And yet, they hadn’t known how it would manifest itself.
In the beginning there was a constant nightmare with Itzel calling out for her daddy; she would shy away from the London family for weeks on end, then be bright and cheerful for a week. Without the aid of the therapist, Lucy was certain that her family would have come undone. Kenzie had referred Itzel to bi-weekly sessions in the beginning, and Dr. Hardy had only recently thought that twice a month would be sufficient.
Cole was the top lawyer in Boone County, and was quite occupied during weekdays, so it was Lucy who took time off from her Grammar School class to take Itzel to therapy.
Derek Miller stood behind the reception desk as he did every day of the week. “No Mr. London again, I see.”
“No, no. He’s in court all day today.” Lucy slid her copay across the counter. Milo had already walked off to play with the familiar blocks, while Itzel sat in a seat with her feet swaying impatiently behind her.
“How did your student’s fair with their mid-term exam?”
“So far they’ve done well. Haven’t gotten the chance to grade them all, but I’d say I’m pretty proud of them at the moment.”
“I imagine it’s all because of the teacher.” Derek said, then cleared his throat, “Dr. Hardy will be with you momentarily. She just stepped out for a quick drink.”
Lucy nodded her head, and took a seat next to Itzel. She placed her hand on her daughter’s knee to stop the swaying, “Please stop.”
“Hmph.” Itzel squinted her eyes for a second, then seemed to change her mind. “I don’t want to be a lawyer anymore.” She pronounced it, “lowler” and gave her Mom a hard gaze.
“Well, honey you don’t have to. You have many years left to decide.” Lucy tried smiling encouragingly. She didn’t want confrontation especially in the waiting room, and she could tell that Itzel was pushing in that direction.
Dr. Hardy stepped in then, and Lucy sighed internally. Itzel hopped up, without glancing back and headed toward the room.
“Hi Itzel,” Dr. Hardy smiled brightly, “Hi Lucy, and Milo too.” She spoke with a sing-song voice, and waved cheerfully at them.
Itzel made a bee line to the teddy bear. Dr. Hardy encouraged the children to hug, and hold the teddy bear during each session to form a familiar comfort with the surroundings. Each session was different, focusing on areas that may have been difficult during the week, and in the case of Itzel teaching her coping mechanisms with her grief. Though she couldn’t remember her mother, and the memory of her father were becoming foggy, she still felt the loss in her own way.
With twenty minutes left to the hour, Lucy was invited back to discuss ways that may help Lucy and Cole with the upcoming weeks.
“How do you feel she’s done with less sessions?”
“Better then I anticipated.” Lucy admitted. “We placed her in the morning preschool at my school, and she seems to be adjusting with the other students. Actually, she seems to be allowing Milo to interact with her, and I’ve seen her go out of her way to play blocks with him.” These were all firsts. While Lucy and Cole were quite close with Itzel, her relationship with her siblings was nothing more then tolerated.
“Good, good.” Dr. Hardy clasped her thin hands together. “We had a very good session. She talked about a little girl named Zilla, and had funny stories to share of Milo. All in all, she seems to be making leaps and bounds here.”
Lucy was relieved. “What can I do to help Alice and Itzel to bond?” This was one relationship that didn’t seem to be improving.
“I’ve been thinking that team work may help the girls bond. It may help Itzel to be more warm to Alice, and help heal Alice’s hurt over the initial rejection. Possibly give them something to fix together, or have them build a birdhouse with popsicle sticks. Something that doesn’t require parental aid.”
Lucy left a voice mail with Cole to tell him that the session had been a successful one, and on her way home she picked up some popsicle sticks. When she got home, it was twenty minutes until the bus would drop off Alice, so she plopped Milo down in the living room and headed to the kitchen to make some sandwiches.
She peeked in on the kids, and Itzel had sat by Milo to play. She smiled, and watched them quietly for a few minutes. Itzel was explaining patiently how to build a bridge and what a triangle was, while Milo watched her intently.
Alice threw the door open, and slammed it behind her. “I’m home!” she shouted. Her book bag hit the wall with a thud then slinked down to the floor. “Mom?”
“Oh, there you are.” Alice remarked breathlessly, as if she hadn’t heard her mother. “I think I’m going to try and hang out with Itzel tonight, is that ok?”
Lucy turned to face her, “Yes, of course. Tell Mrs. Grimsley I say hello.”
Since Lainey had turned eleven, the two best friends seemed to be struggling. Lucy was certain that once Alice made the leap to eleven that they would be back to their old giggling habits. Bekah had confessed that Lainey was feeling uncomfortable in her new body, and that she couldn’t talk to Alice about it, since it hadn’t happened to her yet. And Alice thought that Lainey didn’t like her anymore, and thought of her like she was a little kid.
“I will.” Alice rolled her eyes slightly, and Lucy thought that it wouldn’t be too long before Alice joined the ranks of pre-teen with Lainey.
When Alice stepped outside, she saw that Lainey was already on the sidewalk and talking to another girl. Alice went back inside, and stormed up to her bedroom.
“Alice?” Lucy came towards the stairway.
“Lainey’s busy Mom, tell me when it’s time to eat.” And she slammed the door behind her.
Lucy peeked out the window and saw Lainey talking to the little red haired girl and sighed. She hoped the two girls would be back to their best friend status soon.
They ate dinner in the dining room, after dinner Lucy handed Milo off to Cole for his bedtime bath, and took a walk next door to speak with Bekah. If she could help the girls retain their friendship, she had to try.
Lainey was still outside with the other girl, though now they were across the street and talking in hushed tones. Neither girl looked up to acknowledge Lucy, which she felt was odd for Lainey, since she was generally a polite young girl. Not to mention that she had known her since she was in diapers.
In the end, Bekah didn’t have any ideas on how to help the girls. And instead they began discussing their students, Bekah taught the high school class that Lucy had originally been offered, but had turned down for the grammar school. There was always some sort of drama or student misbehavior to comment on. The clock on the mantle chimed nine times, and Lucy headed back to her home. She missed the days when things were simple, like they were with Milo now. He was happy, and content, and sure he didn’t like when he was told no, but he didn’t have problems with girls, or best buds.
“Lainey, time to come in.” Bekah called out before Lucy got to her doorstep.
Lainey ran towards the house, “Everything ok?” She asked. Concerned by the posture the other girl had towards her daughter.
Lainey blew past her, and shouted, “You don’t know anything.” And ran up the stairs to her room at lightening speed.
Cole complained now and then, how he felt overworked. As soon as he sits down to read the paper, the kids need something or are chasing each other with an indoor game of tag, he would gripe.
He’d go on that as soon as he gets the girls settled down, he hears that the girls had woken up Milo from his nap, and off he goes to get him.
Lucy didn’t know what to tell him. It seemed his recent successes had made him more stressed and distant then he’d been at any other time in their thirty-plus year relationship. She was concerned it was the unexpected passing of his father that burdened him, but he never wanted to talk about it.
Rather abruptly, Cole decided to hire a nanny to care for Milo and Itzel for the afternoon. She had come recommended by Cara and Charlie Grimsley from the time she was in basic training. Apparently she was a competent cook, and even does light housework. Lucy didn’t try to read anything into these latter comments, she felt she did well with juggling housecleaning, kids, and grading papers.
Gretchen was helpful with the kids though, and sometimes she wished she could pay her to fill out all the report cards. She did hire her to babysit the kids at Bekah’s house when it was their Mom’s Night Out. The local Mom’s Group did monthly events, one was a book discussion and the other event was always changing. For the holidays they baked cookies to hand out as gifts, and for January they were going into Seattle for a chocolate workshop.
Lucy scuttled all her kids into Bekah’s living room, and stood in the hallway while Bekah spoke on the phone upstairs. The girls were trying to agree on a video game they could all play, and decided on Hurra Pinata!
“We can’t go.” Bekah said after she got off the phone. “Tim is all the way out by Washington State University, apparently a local girl got picked up disturbing the peace and being out of control to the police officers there. He’s never called out of his jurisdiction, I don’t quite understand.” Her voice began to turn to a whisper as she began talking more to herself then to Lucy.
“Is there anything I can do?”
“Oh, no. It’s nothing, really. By all means you can go to the Chocolate Workshop if you want, heck the kids can even stay here. I just don’t know how late Tim will be, and someone really should be here, in the same town with the girls.” Bekah walked into the living room. She waved her hands above her head to get their attention, “Okay girls. We aren’t going out tonight, how about we order a pizza for dinner?”
“Yeah!” The younger girls hopped on the sofas in excitement, and Itzel shouted out, “Cheese please!”
Notes: My apologies if this is disoriented. This was done in pieces between many interuptions, phone calls, and text messages! Everyone knows I’m doing the solo gig this week, and are very… hmm… present this week.
So I played Bekah/Lainey’s household a bit back, cause I thought it was their turn. It wasn’t. So I used some of that story line above, Hadley came by every night and tormented Lainey. Lainey would run from her (across the street), Hadley followed. Bekah called her in, because the phone rang for her, and I thought that was all pretty perfect.
This round Itzel and Milo went from -17 to a positive 30 something relationship. And she’s in the teens with Alice. Itzel rejects a lot of Alice’s interactions. But Itzel is nearly 100/100 with Cole and Lucy. Bear in mind, this is Itze’s first round at being a child, as a toddler she wasn’t receptive to much or many people.
And Cole just got to the top of the law field, second generation, top lawyer there. I wonder if any of his kids will get the LTW too.
And I’m finally going to put my ROS of jail time scenario into play, finally got that lot built and ready. That’ll be the next update…