(Page 2 of 10)
Miss Lerner paused, pursed her lips, decided to continue directly, did so. "Have her see a pediatrician, Mrs. Permoti. Tell him the problem, have him call me. I'll recommend that he prescribe a mild sedative. Then, perhaps, she can be controlled." Perceiving the confusion on the other woman's face, she hastened to add, "She won't be the only one, Mrs. Permoti. Many children have been helped to live normal, happy, healthy childhoods in this way."
"Are there any alternatives, Miss Lerner?"
Miss Lerner winced. Dammit, this was always the hardest part! "Only one, Mrs. Permoti. Your daughter is requiring so much attention that we have been forced to somewhat neglect the other children in her class. If a distinct improvement is not noted immediately, I'm afraid we'll have to withdraw Jane from our school. I'm truly sorry, Mrs. Permoti. I really have no choice."
"But she's already been expelled from public and parochial school as a problem child, Miss Lerner."
"And she IS. The only way we can retain your child in our school is to solve her problem. I'm just being honest with you, Mrs. Permoti."
"I thank you for that, at least, Miss Lerner, and I'll take your advice. I don't have a choice either. Good Day."
During the next few weeks, Jane was much calmer than she'd ever been. She stayed in her seat, and her fidgeting was less of a distraction. However, there were other differences, too. Jane's grades dropped. She wasn't as popular with the other children. Oh, yes, and one more little thing. Jane didn't smile any more.
There came a day when Jane didn't go to class, but went straight to the principal's office and knocked on her door. "Come in," Miss Lerner called. "Oh, it's YOU, Jane. You haven't been in to see me in a while. I thought we had everything going well. What is it this time?"
"Everything IS going well, Miss Lerner. Mother says for you to withdraw me from school. Also, I don't have to take those pills any more." Jane was smiling again. "She said for you to call her. I guess she knows I'd read a note."
Miss Lerner's eyebrows rose halfway to her hairline, her jaw dropped to her larynx and her hand fluttered to the phone like a dying bird. "What's your telephone number, Jane?"
"Thank you. Please wait outside."
(Bzzzt...bzzzt...bz-click!) "Hello; Permoti residence."
"Mrs. Permoti, this is Miss Lerner. Your daughter tells me that it is your wish that she be withdrawn from our school. Is this true?"
There was a pause, then the reply. "Yes, it's true, Miss Lerner."
"But why, now that she's been behaving so well? As far as we're concerned, Jane's welcome to stay."
"I'm sorry, Miss Lerner. Jane came to me last night and told me that those tranquilizers made her feel dead inside. She said that she wasn't happy any more, that it was no fun to play, and if she had to be dead, she wanted to be dead all the way. I can't make her take them any more, Miss Lerner, and without them, she can't stay in your school."
But-but...what will you do for your daughter's education?"
"We'll hire a tutor.