Monday is coming. I’ve long awaited this day. Whereas many parents are excited about a break from early mornings and afternoon pickups, I didn’t mind the routine. First of all, I am not a fan of summer. It’s extremely hot and my children are out of school. June 6 was a hoopla fest for school kids. My boys were ecstatic! It was the last day of school and freedom rang in the air. I was not the happy camper as everyone else. The closer the date approached, my heart sank, for summer was good for about a week and then boredom sailed in to never leave the dock. Activities were presented but none satisfying enough to keep the thrill. All they saw was the absence of curiosity, creativity and the ability to see the new, improved or different. Now Monday is less than 24 hours away and they each stand between excitement and apprehension, wondering what this year will unfold. I wonder too as they all face an unrecognizable scenery. Once upon a time, Monday represented a moment to breathe. Working without noise. Eating without sharing. Sitting without complaints or requests. Reading without rushing. Exhaling to finally hear with clarity a harmonious sound fly above my head. Is it possible to travel to “a land I heard of once in a lullaby?” That was the plan…..at least for a few hours each day.
Meetings were in place with counselors and teachers, even before the scheduled school calendar dates. Setting my children up for success was at the top of my back-to-school list. My oldest and two youngest were a concern. None of my children are the forward “Hello. How are you? Can we be friends?” kind of kids. To be acquainted takes effort and the wall that shields their hearts doesn’t come down easily or quickly. They’re shy, yet want friends…..yet showing yourself friendly first is something heard of and not often carried out with my boys. So, my job is to meet & greet the educational team and draw a picture of who my boys really are beyond the timid. My boys’ senses are heightened by the unfamiliarity, but the well informed surroundings closed the mouth of fear and allowed calmness to hold their hand. The same cannot be said for Callie, and I worry about him more. No amount of readiness beforehand caused acknowledgement of my son’s existence…neither did it send hugs of comfort to his heart….nor mine. My son’s name was heard in passing, but no one felt the urgency or importance to inquire of his previous & current status. The first day of school was around the corner and no one had prepared for his arrival. We were accustomed to a table being set and all we had to do was sit down and dine. However, in this instance, we sat down but the food was not cooked, certain utensils were not made available and the servers were not even aware guests had arrived, because they were so engrossed with rushing to dress the table. I sat in an IEP meeting a week prior to Monday and I was in awe of the level of incompetence. Well educated but missed the boat on organizational skills. Well knowledgeable on school literature but clueless of the my son’s goals. Back-to-school lessons for the day in place, but oblivious to my son’s needs. Present in a room where my son’s name was mentioned at the top of the meeting, but everything else necessary appeared irrelevant. “A Nightmare On Elm Street” is putting it mildly. For a minute or so, I thought we had gone back in time where a child’s needs and rights had not been introduced. Requesting a couple of tours of the school and calling a meeting with all of my son’s teachers before class is in session seemed unheard of and unreasonable. Today, my husband asked all of our boys what they needed. My oldest and two youngest talk about wanting to make friends and hoping their teachers are nice. Callie simply says, “I want Mom.” His eyes are filled with fear, and he’s squeezing my arm with every ounce of uneasiness. I see him. I feel him. I hear his response….and the “support” (as they refer themselves as) wonder why they have this unnerving notion that this woman is just not going away? In three simple words — he’s my son. My heart is heavy over the parents who do not know they can ask for more. It didn’t matter that the opposition and the untrained were seated all around the room. My husband and I were there on a mission, as every parent should. Callie was the focal point. His picture sat center stage so who we were discussing was clear and never in question. I wanted them to know that although new in town, my expectations were not.
I wrote the above Sunday night and the goal was to copy, paste and send but Monday came too soon. Callie was beyond nervous and I was a wreck. I held my composure long enough to tell him that he was going to have a good day. but then he said, “Promise?” How could I promise something that I was not sure about myself? Nothing up to this point gave us any sunlight. So, I watched him enter an unexplored land as dark clouds of worry rained on my head.
But all was not lost. The same day, we visited the District’s Special Education Director. Callie’s response – “Promise?” played over and over until it reached a crescendo. Tears in the morning, but driven that afternoon. The vagueness of the year and the distress that sat on our shoulders somehow produced a reminder of the journey, as well as, a determination. There are times that your heart and soul are pained beyond repair and the lack of strength to overcome has lessened your hope, but how amazing one word, one smile, one incident can change the atmosphere in an instant……and cause your light at the end of the tunnel to beam and your story to ride on.
Thanks for listening,