Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Polished

Saturday, February 09, 2008


My meeting at the church went well. The two ladies were already there when I arrived, and the one I am less than comfortable with took Erik by the hand and left me alone with Marla, the woman who volunteered to assist our family on Sunday mornings. She was a middle-aged woman with kind eyes and blond hair that threatened to touch her shoulders but flipped up at the ends instead. She listened to all that I had to say about my concerns and frustrations, looking at me thoughtfully through her glasses and nodding when appropriate. I told her that I would like Erik to attend the class with the other children his age if possible. My new author-friend Barbara told me to share the 60 Minutes DVD on Williams syndrome with others to explain our situation, so I produced it from my purse and handed it to her. I expressed our desire to attend church just every other week to start, and she instructed me to call her on Saturday nights to make arrangements. After our meeting, the three of us walked Erik down to the nursery, which was empty, and Erik played with some toys, placing his hands over his ears from time to time when encountering something unfamiliar that could potentially emit a loud noise. When it was time to go, he melted down in the hallway once the ladies rounded the corner. I was forced to carry my kicking, protesting boy out the front doors over a sheet of ice to the car.

I would be lying if I said Erik's behavior was improving. His tolerance for frustration or being told no is virtually nonexistent. Toilet training is practically impossible, as he refuses almost everything I offer him or suggest. By Friday of this week, I was millimeters from tears all day. Brian and I have talked about our reaction to his actions, and we both agree that using time outs and/or ignoring inappropriate behaviors, depending on the situation, seems to work best, as he is simply seeking attention. The time I spent with him Friday consisted of mostly one consecutive tantrum. He has even begun slapping himself when he is frustrated, and watching him do this saddens me beyond belief. Telling him to stop, of course, only intensifies the behavior, as he wants a reaction from me.

This morning I awoke with a headache. I called Lisa, my neighbor, and took her up on a previous offer to visit a nearby salon for a pedicure and eyebrow waxing, even though my heart wasn't completely in it. By the time I prepared to leave, I found myself more enthusiastic about our outing. We arrived as the place opened. This was a pleasant turn of events, as wearing flip flops in 40-degree weather is not one of my favorite pastimes. We ordered deluxe pedicures with leg massage, choice of aromatherapy, and hot towel wrap, although I was concerned that going from such an incredibly tense state to one of pure relaxation could potentially cause me to wet my pants in a public setting. Unfortunately, I am so horribly tense that I didn't come close to achieving the level of relaxation I was anticipating. It was quite pleasant, however. I chose orange-scented bath salts for my feet, as the scent of citrus always lifts my spirits. We turned our massage chairs on high, and the short man with bulldog-like features waiting on me began massaging my feet. I enjoyed his friendly banter but was horrified by his complete and total honesty. My pedicure ended up costing an additional five dollars because he strongly suggested some sort of acid peel for the calluses on my feet. When he saw my fingernails, which I eventually forgot about hiding, he recoiled, suggested a manicure, and then changed his mind, stating that perhaps acrylic nails were the way to go for me. I told him I would let him take care of my hands at a later date, as the top of my thumb is currently missing as the result of an unfortunate onion slicing accident. This is what happens when one is half tomboy, half girly-girl, I suppose. Lisa, of course, giggled with glee at his observations about me. I received a minor chemical burn from acid splatter on the back of my right calf, but my feet are now softer than a baby's buttocks. I requested the usual crimson polish for my toes, and he carefully slid my flip flops back onto my feet over my glossy nails.

We were then escorted by a tiny woman wearing pink sweatpants and plastic, leopard print heels into a very messy back room in which there was a massage table with some less than clean towels lying across it. Lisa, a veteran at this particular establishment, stretched out on the table, and I stood behind the woman in the tiny space while she applied wax, pressed on strips of muslin, and ripped them off with glee. In fact, she turned to display what she had removed from Lisa's face and said, "OOOOOH! So hairy!" Lisa, not a quiet woman by any means, huffed and said that half of what was smeared across the strip was eye makeup, not hair. The woman giggled and shook her head. I laughed loudly. Revenge is sweet. When my turn came, the woman went to work, efficiently ripping the excess hair from above my eyebrows. I was thankful I had taken Excedrin for my headache before leaving the house, as the last time I had my eyebrows done, I looked like Rocky Balboa after a nasty fight within an hour of leaving another salon. We finished the afternoon at a seafood restaurant. I sat in front of a plate of fish and chips, not caring how many points I was consuming because my pounding head demanded something greasy tout de suite, and a cold, sweating glass of chardonnay poured from a box behind the bar.

Tomorrow's adventure: Church.

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Blogger Penny said...

I am glad you got out today. I did the very same thing. I spontaneously went out for a Spa Pedicure and an eyebrow wax. Now, if I could only sneak out for a massage.

9:34 PM  
Blogger kathi said...

I'm always in awe of how well you write. You put us in the midst of your story, and make is as awkward or comfortable for us as it had been for you.

When you were telling about the messy back room and less than clean towels, I couldn't help but imagine ~deb there, LOL.

I hope it went well for you today at Church.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

After oh so desperatly needing an eyebrow wax and just not finding the time i made the fatal desision to just pluck em myself.
With dodgy eye sight and balance issues it was a silly idea to begin with, lets just say the wound will heal with time, im just glad i missed my actual eyeball!
I hope church went well :)

4:01 PM  
Blogger Michelle, Tim, Aidan & Ari said...

I was so wrapped up by your writing and involved in your story because of how beautiful it's written I lost track of time and my son almost missed the bus!
Truly you have a gift for writing. I am glad the church ladies were nice to you and you got out with a girlfriend for the afternoon. It's great you got a chance to at least semi-relax!

5:19 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

I am glad they are at least making an effort for you at church. Glad you got out. I love massages but made a mistake of eating before my massage last time. Let's just say I couldn't relax as much as I like because I was terrified I would pass gas.:) I am surprised you were brave enough to get your eyebrows waxed after the last time. Hope things get better.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Rosemarie said...

Even tomboys feel better with soft and polished feet!

I sure hope Erik's behavior improves. It may be comforting to know that my three year old is buckin' the system too!

9:49 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm happy that they have at least made an effort for you and Erik. I hope it works out.
Sounds like you had a much needed and deserved day out, glad you enjoyed yourself!

3:05 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Avery hits herself as well, that has since mostly ceased when I took Dr. Mervis' advice which was to totally ignore it. I was doing the opposite, since like you, I found it completely disturbing. Anyway, glad you had a spa day that sounds awesome.

9:53 AM  

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