- You are reminded that your child is not “regular.”
Monday, I took Carlos to his school to figure out after school care. His school doesn’t have an after school program on-site, so I’ve been talking to them since last spring about options. If he has to ride a bus somewhere, can he ride it to his sister’s school? If not, which school will take him? Does it need to be the school that handles autism students? Will his IEP cover after school accommodations or do I have to send him to a holding pen every afternoon for a few hours?
I told the receptionist that I was confused and she said, “Just register him at the other school.” Huh? I’m supposed to show up with a kid who doesn’t go there and inform them that he will be arriving by bus every afternoon to a strange environment with people he’s never seen? I asked her to explain it again and she said, “If he were a REGULAR student, it would all make sense, but he’s Special Ed.”
My mouth dropped open.
And here’s why I cried over that: this is the special school where he’s supposed to BE “regular.” I’ve been counting the days to get him back into an environment where people understand Carlos and know how to help him flourish. We survived a summer of daycare where he was out of control and they didn’t have the staff and training to meet special needs. This was supposed to BE the safe place, so “regular” kind of stung.
- You spend 2 hours filling out forms so someone can figure out WHY he isn’t “regular.”
I put in a day at work, THEN two hours of running around from school to school, THEN trying to figure out rules that were provided in Spanish because my kid is named Carlos, THEN having a 90-minute “come to Jesus” meeting with one kid who has made some dumb choices, THEN getting a hot fresh dinner on the table, THEN getting supplies and everything ready for school….THEN I sat down at the dining room table to fill out school forms and a thick Parent Questionnaire from the Marcus Center for Autism.
Can your child stand on one foot? When did child first stand on one foot? Can other members of your family stand on one foot? How many extended family members have now or have every experienced problems while standing on one foot? Do you like feet?
Is your child cruel to animals? How much weight did mother gain with pregnancy? Did your child have hiccups in utero?
Two hours later, I had it filled out. I also felt like the worst mother on earth because I honestly couldn’t remember if he had hiccups in utero. I know Vivi did–every night at 10:30 for a couple of months. It was all new with her and I had time to pay attention to every little thing. Did I notice with Carlos and forget? Did I not notice? What else have I not noticed? So I cried about fetal hiccups.
- You have to drop him at school even though he says, “It’s too scawy, Mama.”
Even after meeting his teacher and exploring the room the day before, even with parking and walking him in, even with the Superman shirt and the Spiderman back pack…it was too much for him. He shrieked and collapsed on the doormat in the hallway. He pressed his hands to his ears and curled into a tight ball. I patted and clucked and cooed as the kids and parents passed around us like a rock in a stream.
At least he’s got more words this year to tell me what’s going on. He said, “It’s too scawy, Mama.” I didn’t have any answer to that. It is too scary, honey. And most of the time we have to do scary things anyway.
It only took a few minutes. When I left, he was happily building a robot at his table. But I cried once I made it to the car, because I don’t have an answer when it’s just too scary.
- You sit through a hellatious car rider line only to find that your son was put on the bus…to somewhere.
Yep. Since we didn’t have anywhere to send him after school, I left work at 2:30 and ended up 7621st in line for the car rider pickup. And my air conditioning went out. And two people cut in line and almost got cut.
But the best part was when I got to the front of the line after 45 minutes and his teacher met me with a panicked look and the words, “Carlos got on the bus.” I pulled my car up on the curb and started crying right then and there. They had to call the bus depot and find out which bus. They had to call the bus and tell them to come back. They had to explain all this to me as I stood there in the heat, wiping snot and tears onto the sleeve of my work blouse.
His teacher did a great job of handling the mistake and my feelings. The bus pulled up and Carlos waved to me from the window. We got in the car and he had a strawberry milkshake to celebrate his first day. I cried in the McDonalds drive-thru.
- You get snapped at for wanting to park and walk your son into class instead of shoving him out onto the sidewalk from the car rider lane.
This morning, I got there early. I wanted Carlos to have plenty of time and support to make the transition. I sat through the drop off line. I turned from the line into the parking lot and some lady with a walkie-talkie shouts, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? This is only for Early Learning!”
So maybe I didn’t say exactly that. I walked my kid inside, past the fuming walkie-talkie. I cried a little with rage but I didn’t let him see me. I cried when the traffic director told me that it was OK to do exactly what I had done and I cried some more when I got into the car. I got myself together then checked my email…
- You get an email from the autism center that just says, “AGAIN….forms sent in error.”
That’s all. That was the terse reply to my email with the questionnaire, the IEP, an apology for the forms being one day late because they were sent to us while we were out of town. So I didn’t need to do all that and you already told me? Seems I didn’t get that voicemail because I’ve been too busy getting those forms filled out, hunting down a copy of the IEP that has to be revised because it had a typo on it…and apologizing for the forms being one day late. But I am the asshole for bothering you. Okeydoke. I’ll just be over here crying.
….I. AM. DONE.