Friday, October 17, 2008

Who's calling?

I had a baking bee in my bonnet yesterday. Even though it was 85 degrees in San Francisco, I felt the need to bake banana bread and apple cake. It’s autumn, even if it is summer outside. I was up to my elbows in bananas when the phone rang. Naturally. I thought about letting it go to voice mail, Maggie was already home so I knew it wasn’t any emergency involving her. In reality I never do that, every phone call could be that Nigerian lottery I keep hearing about. I wiped off my hands and picked up the phone.

A young girl said simply, “This is Sierra.” I wasn’t sure who that was and for a moment, I thought it was a wrong number. Then it hit me, “Sierra from Maggie’s school?” “Yes, can I talk to her?”

Seems simple enough. One 8th grade girl calling another. Except that is the very first time that has ever happened. No one has ever called Maggie before.

Sierra spends one period a day in Maggie’s classroom. She has some education issues of her own, but she is in every other way a typical 8th grader. She is into clothes and boys and having fun.

The logistics of this were a bit complicated. As you know, Maggie does not speak. Because of the trach tube, she does not make any sound at all. Hence, a phone conversation is a tough thing to pull off. I put the phone to her ear and Sierra started talking. Maggie was laughing her head off, but without the sound, Sierra was not getting any feedback. I told Sierra to hold on and I used the remote phone to listen to what she was saying and held the extension up to Maggie. That defeats the purpose of the teenage girl phone call, having a mom listen in, but we have to adapt. I role-played what Maggie’s responses would be. It was not hard to translate. Maggie was ecstatic.

Sierra asked about Maggie’s weekend and I told her Maggie’s cousin was coming. Since we plan to make tie-dye shirts, we promised to make one for Sierra. There was a pause and she said,
“Maggie, you’re my best friend”

I swallowed hard.

If I were really channeling an 8th grade girl I would probably say something like” Oh, I like Taylor better.” But the role-playing stopped right there. I told her that Maggie thinks Sierra is her best friend too.

The call ended. My heart expanded. Maggie continued to beam.

Sierra ­IS her best friend. Maybe mine too.

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