This past week or so has been the roughest yet with trying to figure things out for the Goofy Child. I keep getting pulled off topic and pulled back in to the place of anger and accusation. I keep being pushed to the point that I want to scream at them the entire list of their transgressions from Walter and Alex to Goofy- spanning the past 5 1/2 years. I remember all of them. I told you I was good at holding grudges ;) I know I need to let go and focus on Goofy's needs now and how to meet those needs. I keep refocusing on him but with a comment or an e-mail, I'm pulled off course.
I was sitting here last night, my head aching, my stomach burning, the rage overflowing, going over this last sparring match when I saw a new e-mail. Alex's OT.
This woman has good timing, I'll tell you that. She's telling me things, answering questions, offering information, sharing ideas... and the weight is gone. the ache, the burning, the fury is gone. By the end of the e-mail I'm laughing and feeling the urge to crack a joke. and I do. because I can. Alex's principal, assistant principal, and teacher are in on this conversation and the principal knows exactly what I'm talking about and responds in the way what I said was meant to be taken. and it's so damned easy.
Alex. That one. Oh, Lord. I went to take Alex to the bathroom and change him. When I took his diaper off, there was a second one there. I looked at Alex and said, "buddy, did Aide put two diapers on you?" He laughed and nodded. I gave him a sideways look and said, "Did she forget to take the old one off?" He laughed harder and nodded faster. I said, "Well, didn't you tell her 'STOP! you're doing it wrong!'?" He laughed so hard and nodded so fast, I thought he'd fall right off the toilet. I can laugh at this because I know. I know this Aide. I know her work. I know when she works with him and the way he comes home and in all the time she's been with him, she's been excellent. I know because it's so damned easy.
I think about Walter's school. I'm informed. I'm involved. All I have to do is ask. and it's so damned easy.
With the Goofy Child's school, I question my sanity, if I'm pushing too far, too hard, for too much. I think about the way it looks and how my words are warped and twisted. I worry that I'm disorganized, bouncing around from this to that, never making a point, and the image that presents to the only people I feel might be able to help me- district administration. They are attacking my credibility, trying to make me look and feel scattered and crazy, while they tell people how much respect they have for me- I know it's not true, but I also see their plan- and I worry that it's working. I see what I'm saying there and I know it sounds insane. I know I look paranoid. Actually, I start to wonder myself, which makes me even more wary of what the district is seeing in me.
Then I get this e-mail. This e-mail where everything is so easy and simple, and I think about Walter's school and I know the problem here, with the Goofy One, the problem is not me.
With Alex, I knew. I had this sense of urgency- I had to get him out of this school. Had to. I knew there was something better for the both of us. It took 3 years, but I got him out. Within the time span of one report card at the special school, he was making progress in every area. By this time, I knew how schools worked. We've had several years of training. I looked at that first report card and I was furious. "They're lying," I told my husband. We had a meeting. They promised me that they were not lying, Alex actually made progress on every goal. I knew better, but what are you going to do? right? At least I know where we stand. Two and a half years later, I am happy to say I was wrong. Alex has made progress. a lot of progress. This year is his best year ever. He's happy, he loves going to school, he loves his staff, his behaviors are almost non-existent. He's communicating more and more effectively.
When Walter moved to the middle school, everything changed. No discipline referrals. No phone calls. No trouble. The past 2 years I have been wrapped up in Alex and Goofy so I wasn't as active in his school and the only person I communicated with was my Mystery Man- the assistant principal- until he left and I was forced to get to know the principal. But that sixth grade year was a turning point. Walter loved school. He loved his staff, he loved his friends, and didn't want to miss a single day. Talking to the principal not too long ago, he told me how impressed he is with who Walter is. He doesn't feel the need to be one of the crowd. He's happy and confident, he does his own thing. He said he'll crack a joke and most of the kids won't catch it but Walter will look at him with a smile like "yeah, I see what you did there." What this principal doesn't seem to get is he's just as responsible for that. He's been a big part of helping Walter grow into the person he is now. Three years in his school has made a huge impact on my baby. in a good way.
I don't know that I would go so far as to say that I have a good relationship with these schools, relationships are a two way thing and I can only speak for one side, but I can tell you it's comfortable. easy. It shouldn't have to be so damned hard. The relationship between the parents and the school is a good indication of the relationship between the school and the students or the students and the school. I try hard to keep this from Goofy, no child should be caught between two bickering parents- same thing. I work hard to not show him my feelings for the school, and still he hates school. It's not the staff, it's definitely not his teacher. It's that they are not meeting his needs. If we could work together, his needs could be met with or without an IEP but I'm afraid that's not a possibility.
Last night I lay awake thinking of the years worth of bad feelings that have accumulated, the irreparable damage, the irreconcilable differences and I wondered how without the school and the parents working together, he could even have a chance at a decent education- with or without an IEP. The conclusion I came to is there is no chance. I fell asleep working on arguments to get him into the special school. He can't get into the special school without an IEP.
The other night, I had fallen asleep watching a channel 9 show on local schools and transfers from unaccredited schools. One thing they discussed was why the kids need to be shipped to other districts. Sometimes there are good schools in "bad" districts. Why not transfer within the district before transferring out? I read something along the same lines in Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind last night. I woke up this morning with an elementary name repeating in my head. The Goofy Child's school is 2 minutes to the right. This school is 6 minutes to the left. Transportation would not be provided and the afternoon time might be a little tricky but I think this is possible. I took time this morning to check out the school. Their website, their facebook page, their state report card. Looking at the information provided, this school looks like it might be a good fit. It looks like it might meet all of the recommendations from his evaluation reports.
The special school is still my number one choice, I think they'd be the most qualified and appropriate for him to provide meaningful educational benefit, but this school is a very close second as far as providing an appropriate setting (not so sure about educational benefit, I do worry about that), the tone of their communication and the amount of parent involvement I see online feel good, and they're the least likely school to be argued.
I'm back. I'm up. I have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, I am as prepared as I can be, and I am refocused on the only thing that matters:
All because of one e-mail.