Sunday, January 26, 2014

What do you expect?

This week we had our annual IEP meeting for Rascal. Prior to the meeting, I was nervous. Nervous because I anticipated having to ask for something and I was afraid of a fight. I don't like confrontation. I'm kind of a wimp.

I ended up being pleasantly surprised. Shocked, really, when they already had goals and services added to address the issues that I came in concerned about. I had this moment where I got to look around the room and see, not people I had to fit against, but allies. They aren't perfect (they are people, after all), but they know my child. They love my child.

Earlier in the year I never would have guessed that things would have gone so smoothly. Rascal had a tough time transitioning to his new classroom this year and we even had to call in someone from the district to see if he should be in a different room. Back then, I was hurt. I would have sworn that his teacher didn't like him at all, that she wasn't willing to do the work to help him fit into her class. Honestly, I didn't think all too fondly of her and I didn't expect much of her.

I was wrong.

Looking back, I see that she was a teacher with 20 years of experience who had never had a kid quite like my Rascal and wasn't sure how to help him. She wanted him to thrive and learn, and was worried that he wasn't in the best place to do that. She didn't just look at him and see a problem, she looked at him and saw a little boy who needed more than she knew how to give.

In the end, she got help on how to help him. They learned how to speak one another's language. She grew in her confidence with him and he grew in his trust of her. And oh, I am so glad that he ended up in her classroom, because I can't imagine any teacher doing more. I am almost ashamed of how I used to think, of how low my expectations were and how wrong my assumptions were.

So often I think us special needs parents are in battle mode. We have all seen our kids be treated poorly, we have all had to fight for rights and services, we have all been hurt by the words and actions of people we thought were going to love our kids. I can't help but wonder if sometimes we just get stuck in the mentality that the people across the table are on the other side. And before you jump down my throat with But MamaSab, you don't know what it's like to have a truly awful teacher/team!, trust me when I say that I have.That is where I am coming from and why I had the mentality that I'd had. I've sat in a room and felt like no one in that room had any hope for my child, and it is one of the worst feelings in the world. What I am saying is don't let those experiences color all the future interactions you have with new teachers and new therapists and new teams. Don't always expect the worst and assume you are in for a fight.

Sometimes, you meet people along the way who want to help. Who love your kid. I almost missed out on seeing that. I hope you don't.

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