The week before Christmas

It’s ten o’clock in the morning on Christmas eve and we are hoping to start and finish our Christmas shopping in the next two hours, only hampered slightly by the twin circumstances that it is pouring with rain and we haven’t yet talked to the people who we are sharing Christmas dinner with to decide who is bringing what. One of the things that I like about Argentina is the hassle-free Christmas, particularly in the lower-middle echelons of society.
The last few days on the other hand have been fairly manic. Those paying close attention might remember the summer scheme with disabled people that I was involved in last year. That started again on Monday so I have been there all week. This year there is an added bonus in that I have managed to obtain a place for my little friend from the hamlet who I wrote about a few blogs ago, which has also brought its own complications. The local governor had agreed that the village would provide the transport, and then at the last moment decided that he wasn’t very interested after all. This is a fair summary of my experience so far with this governor. A friend said “these people use their money to buy their political position, and then use their political position to get more money”. So maybe I just shouldn’t expect anything, except that the guy is hard to bypass in a small community, especially if you’re trying to access resources. Anyway, the upshot of all that is that my first task every morning is to drive into the back of beyond to collect said kid, and my last job is to return him home afterwards. This doesn’t bode greatly for my campaign for the kid to go to school next year, although I will at least have the law on my side for that round of negotiations.

Anyway, Monday, we arrived, to discover that kiddo needed a health form in order to be allowed in the pool. Not just any old “history compiled by the parents” form, but a full medical completed and signed by a doctor. Swallowing the desire to point out that he probably takes a bath most days to no ill effect, we piled back into the car and went for a tour of San Francisco’s hospital. After making us wait an hour, we were sent on to a different department whose secretary informed us that there were no more appointments available for today. So I went into pleading mode, and the secretary, younger and less Doberman-like than some of her colleagues, suggested that we went upstairs to argue our case with the duty doctor. Carrying seven-year old up two flights of concrete steps no mean feat; (this is a hospital, what do they do with the beds and wheelchairs?) we waited outside the doctor’s office. She, bless her, took one look and said “I know this kid what do you want me to sign?” and filled in the form with barely a poke of the patient. So we made our second (more successful) arrival at the summer scheme a mere ninety minutes after the first.

Worth it? Roaring. This little boy who has barely left his house in his life so far, was anything but intimidated by being part of a larger group, even though they are all more able and mobile than himself. He piled into the middle of the football game with full abandon, and as for the water; ecstatic. The other kids, all with learning difficulties, also went out of their way to include him with friendly greetings, and playing splash with him in the pool. All of which also bodes well for him if he makes it into school next March. The final hurdle for that may be his mum, ironically, for it is also she who is pushing for him to go to school in the first place. She has been accompanying him to the summer scheme this week, until yesterday she said that he couldn’t come every day, as she hasn’t got time to come with him every day. Which I took as an opportunity to suggest that maybe I should try taking him on my own, an idea which she didn’t take to at all, saying that he wouldn’t want to come without her. In fact from what I have seen, he is so well integrated that he rarely even glances across to her during the whole of the morning. However, since his birth-day seven and a half years ago, of the very few places he has been to none of them have been without mum, and I suspect that it is going to take a piece of relationship-building longer and more sensitive than me suggesting it might be a good idea, to bring about that next step of progress.

Meanwhile I’m trying to think of something original and Christmassy to finish with, but really I can’t improve on “The word became flesh and came and dwelt among us”, which is probably just as well. Have a good one.

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