I know it’s been quiet around here at OTJ and I’m sorry about that.
As you can imagine it’s been quite loud on the actual homefront.
The wireless goes from bad to worse. Now, my only consistent coverage is if I press my computer against the wall right above Paul’s nightstand. That makes for less than comfortable circumstances and my online time is restricted to checking e-mail and reading the news. I even try to avoid replying to e-mails as this necessitates leaning way to the side or kneeling on the floor next to the bed. Ridiculous, I know, but figuring out the sitch is low on my list of priorities.
I have had three writing deadlines this month. I submitted an essay (Jackie Boy) to the editor of a book that’s a collection of dog stories and it was immediately accepted. The e-mail I received was the written version of Meg Ryan’s scene in the deli in “When Harry Met Sally”
“Yes. Yes. YES! YES!…” So that was good. I suggested another and I’m waiting to hear if it was accepted.
I also entered an essay in a contest and I’ve been writing quite a bit as I’ve been making all the preparations for Christopher’s schooling next year. This Fall will be the first time in fourteen years that I won’t have children home with me…except for Willa on Thursdays as Torey is quick to remind me. She (Torey) is positioning herself as my agent. She has several stories that she insists I could just “fart out in a day or two”. If only writing was as easy as passing gas.
The results from all the tests are in and the consensus is that C. Riley H. is a smart lad with a wickedly precocious vocabulary who needs to do a spot of work in math. We had the meeting with 8 specialists where we established his educational plan for next year. Everyone, except for one slouch was an absolute dream to work with. The OT phoned in her testing and only acknowledged some things when I pointed them out. In the meeting she said, “Mom only wanted me to do an overview in my testing…” and my jaw dropped. That was a lie. I wanted a full assessment and after dealing with her decided to hire a therapist we had worked with privately to come and help establish accomodations. The OT was more interested in getting Christopher off her book and I was happy to let her, but I am going to “love her enough” as we say in some circles to inform her supervisor that she tried to give me the run around and then put it on me. It’s one thing to play me, but to call me “Mom” when you’re doing it…no.
When Christopher first mainstreamed I didn’t know enough to advocate for him better. We threw him to the wolves. He was sent into the classroom with the only accomodation being a small speaker to amplify his teacher’s voice. He didn’t qualify for the resource room and I didn’t know to push for more. This time I understand some things that I didn’t previously and I have the diagnoses and technical terms that specialists seem to need to hear to take a person seriously.
At this meeting everyone was gracious and helpful and Paul and I were assured that this wasn’t written in stone, that as the year progressed we could always call another meeting. I know this is true, but I decided to have them write down every accomodation we agreed would be helpful, even if it wasn’t immediately relevant.
My biggest fan, the speech pathologist I wrote about last month took a moment to turn the spotlight on Christopher’s wonderful teacher…um, me. She actually swept her arm in a welcoming me to the stage gesture. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t just bask in that, I needed to minimize it. I’m certainly taking full responsibility for his lower math score. The truth is that Christopher’s education has been a four part invention: his intelligence and will (or lack) mingled with my teaching abilitity and will or lack thereof. I deflect the praise about the positives but take the fullness of the negatives and that sucks.
This meeting was called the IEP: Individual Educational Plan. We have had many for Christopher through the years. The first one was September 17, 1997 – the day before Lydia’s birth. In those early years we didn’t know what to expect. No one could say if Christopher would be able to speak. We chose an Oral Deaf school because I had taught English overseas and was keenly aware what a difficult language it is to approach as a non native. I could accept that Christopher might never be able to speak English, his immediate circle might be limited to those who sign, I could accept that, but I could not accept him being unable to read vociferously and to write eloquently. I wanted English to be his mother tongue, even if he couldn’t physically speak it and Paul agreed. What made the decision easier was the obvious superiority of the Oral Deaf school to the Total Communication school, at that time.
After the speech pathologist had her “One Shining Moment” for me, she gave her report and then the Hearing Consultant, a teacher from Christopher’s former school who will check in on him and keep working with his listening and speech gave her assessment. At the end the speech pathologist jumped in again and made us have a moment of silence (I’m almost serious!) to acknowledge the singularity of Christopher’s achievement. I think she wasn’t satisfied with my polite demurring and everyone else’s ignorance. She kept making us look at the extraordinary nature of this event. She wanted everyone in that room to take note and I think it frustrated her that only she and the hearing consultant, and Paul and I understood what it meant. She knew. For a moment I got it and I realized that we were THERE, the other side. Of course we’re still on the journey, but we are so far from where we were 12 years ago when these Plans first began. For a moment I remembered sitting around that other table, great with another child, trying to make a way for our first, trying to trust God for all of us. I remember not knowing. That day I didn’t know if Christopher would ever say, “I love you” if he would ever speak at all.
We couldn’t see to this meeting, where it would be established that Christopher nolonger qualifies for speech therapy and is years beyond his chronological age in vocabulary and he can speak. He can speak.
I am thankful for Rose, the speech pathologist, even though she embarrassed me at the time. We should be thankful to anyone who makes us stop, who isn’t afraid to interrupt things, who pulls our chins until we see what she has been pointing to all along.