With the boys starting High School, I’ve been thinking a lot about where we came from, and how different the past is from now. That led me to think about how I’ve handled things, and whether or not it was the right way to handle them.
Most of this has surfaced because I’m now looking at support for Buzzard in high school. It hasn’t been an issue before, because in the private school setting they handle things a bit differently. Now we are returning to the public school system, and suddenly I’m hearing names I haven’t heard in nine years, and meeting new people. Not that this is a bad thing, but I’m fully aware of the impression I made on the special education/IEP staff for the county schools, and I believe that at least for one person, my name does not begin with an A, but a B.
Truthfully, I hadn’t really given it much thought. After all, Buzzard has fared pretty well, all things considered, and in my opinion, needs minimal support. Turns out the lady from the county agreed. Upon my first meeting with her, I found that she was smart, sensible, had great ideas, and wanted to explore all possibilities. Then she said she wanted to have her boss (John, not his real name) join us.
“I’m just going to run down the hall and get John, see what he thinks. He’s a great guy, you’ll love him.”
My face freezes with a startled look on it. “John Jones?” I ask, uncomfortably aware that my voice is squeaking. John Jones and I locked horns doing battle the first time around when I was trying to get services for Roo and Buzzard at the age of 4, him having taken over from another man who positively loathed me. (I could assume that after so many years, and tending to the needs of what I am sure amounts to thousands of kids, he wouldn’t remember me from Jane Smith. And maybe someday I’ll be Queen of England, instead of Katherine.)
She stops dead in her tracks. “Yes…Why?”
I smile. “I don’t think he likes me very much. We didn’t exactly agree about…things, in the beginning.”
She slowly comes back to her chair. “Well, O.K. But I’m sure he likes you fine.”
Yeah, about as much as a colonoscopy, I think to myself, but merely smile at her.
Roughly three weeks later, I meet with her again at our current school. She is again courteous, but very reserved this time, treating me like a bomb that might go off. Every suggestion she makes, she makes timidly as though I will suddenly shriek about how lame everything is, confirming in my mind that she did in deed, speak with John and he filled her in on what he thought of me.
At one point, she comments that Buzzard seems to have done very well, and that he may not need an IEP, but a 504 instead, which is less support.
Suddenly, I feel like I’ve been given a chance that I’ve wanted for a very long time.
“I know,” I say, “that I was very difficult in the past, and that John must think me a nightmare sort of parent to deal with.” I pause, and she doesn’t disagree. “It saddens me that he does not know the depth of my gratitude for everything they have done–that he doesn’t know that in my heart, I realize that what Buzzard has achieved has been because of all the services he made it possible for me to have so that we could give him everything he needed to be successful. I know it wouldn’t have happened without that support. I know that that is the reason we are considering a 504 instead of an IEP, and that is a truly marvelous thing.”
The Vice-Principal nodded vigorously at my words, and the representative from the county smiled a surprised sort of smile. I truly hope that she went back and relayed that to John. Trying to get services for a child with autism is very difficult sometimes, and all the more so because it is such an emotionally charged situation. I had two kids I needed services for, which made me all the more determined, and probably, all the more nasty. The county people weren’t the only ones I wasn’t popular with. Some of the therapists thought I was nothing less than a tyrant.
I don’t know that I will ever feel regret for how I did things. It felt as though somebody had surely said to me, “You must give them this medicine everyday of their lives for as long as it takes, or they will die. The medicine is awful. It will taste bad, and not only your kids, but others will fight you on it.” To me, it seemed that dire. Others may argue that it wasn’t that bad, that it was only my perception. Maybe, maybe not.
I can be certain about this one thing in my life though. I can’t imagine ever feeling like I did the wrong thing, being the pushy, obnoxious parent that I was, and there is not much that I would change when it comes to this. I feel so lost these days when it comes to parenting, wondering if I’m doing the right thing. At least it wasn’t always that way.