I wrote this yesterday but after planting 400 bulbs, having a delightful dinner with a friend, and watching part of the last Star Wars movie with Julia, I fell asleep without publishing. Ah, the writing life.
Observing myself this week possibly more closely than usual. Looking for what to write about each day — umm, well didn’t work yesterday. The mix of joys and sorrows and frustrations and blessings abound. And the petals are falling on the dining room table.
Election result. I am disappointed. Not surprised. I inform myself, I read, I think about who is running and what they believe in, I vote, of course, but I did nothing to work for those candidates that I believe in. I don’t believe in turning away from our system in frustration and despair, but at the same time, I would rather not expend my energy working and advocating for the system. Is that a mindset that just doesn’t work in a democracy? Is it my job to be involved no matter what else there is in my life? When I was in theater, I believed, however wrongly, that my art was all of the outreach I needed to do. I would impact my world with my art. I’m not saying that I really did that or that my work had some more global effect on anyone.
Later, when I worked for the federal court system, I was not allowed to be politically active in a visible sort of way and it was easy to embrace the judicial lifestyle. Now. Well, I did a little bit of campaign work when Obama was up for elections. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. I don’t feel it is my calling, but I hate feeling powerless or frustrate. There are only so many productive hours in the day. My plate does tend to be full but does that matter when I am watching the steady trek backwards in terms of policies that I think are important?
More middle school frustration. More. More. In the assignment notebook last night was news of a science quiz. There was a review sheet of sorts but it wasn’t clear whether Julia was supposed to fill out more of it than what was already done. And she has no idea. Her special ed teacher and I set up a procedure for taking quizzes and tests that involved getting Julia ready for tests over a period of days. And so, a review sheet or sample test comes home a week or so before the testing day and we study little by little. One night of studying does absolutely no good and it just frustrates Julia and I.
So that was where we started last night. I had her read the little bit of material on the review sheet a few times and switched to practicing cello.
Today, I went in with her. Talked to the special ed teacher who was also frustrated that the science teacher is not following the plan, but then again the aide in that classroom is different from the aide who was there when the plan was set up. And I made my case for reducing the number of people that she sees. Every doc and therapist that I talk to has agreed that Julia needs a smaller and consistent staff. When I made this pitched to the principal later, she talked about all the variables that can’t be controlled for. And I agreed. Someone is sick and out, someone is on leave, someone was needed in a place of higher need than Julia. All of the makes sense and I know that Julia needs to learn to accommodate for that; however, if her people-environment is smaller to begin with she might start building some relationships that will allow for some change and flexibility. As it stands now, it seems to be all change and transition for her— bells going off every 45 minutes, changing classes for each class, kids she doesn’t know and a building she is only beginning to recognize. Some of this is the bedrock of middle school, but the plea that I am making is to make some changes where we can. I see people as a possibility. I think Julia’s special ed teacher can see that. I am not sure about the principal. It is system change that I am looking for and the powers-that-be would rather put a bandaid on the gap than change.
People with only neuro-typical kids tend to say that all kids face these kinds of challenges. Middle school is a big change and some kids take a long time to settle. I was going to write that if those people could spend one day with Julia they would know that her challenges with these change make typical kid settling into middle school look easy-peasy, but what strikes me is that if it is difficult for many kids, why is this the system? I have read that middle school can be generally considered a wasteland between elementary and high school that needs to be endured. I wonder why we are punishing kids for getting into sixth grade? Why shouldn’t the system fit the kids instead of fitting those kids into an unfriendly and sometimes destructive system?