I notice rain. Just after dawn, coming down in buckets, like cats and dogs, teaming. Or is it teeming? It thundered and lightened and made an awful fuss before coming down. This rain has been in the offing for 24 hours, announcing itself over and over again with two brief showers yesterday, neither long enough to be “rain” and mounting humidity until I turned on the air in the late afternoon. We’ve slept in the cool, manufactured air for which I am grateful.
I notice rain because Julia hates the comings of storms. During her first two years of school, I would get calls to bring her home because thunder unhinged her, and then there were years of being terrified of rain because if it rained, there might be thunder. Now, she merely dislikes storms. She doesn’t like getting wet and she can complain almost as loudly as the thunder. Sometimes when a fierce storm rolls into town in the middle of the night, she comes into my room with arm fulls of stuffed dinosaurs and dolls. She wakes me up, takes over the middle half of the bed, steals all the covers and then falls blissfully to sleep while I lie with eyes trained on the ceiling hoping that the worst thunder cracks are finished and that I can eventually extract my arm from under her head because it no longer has feeling. But still, I am grateful that she has grown into sleeping through rain.
I notice rain, because of planting. Each day I garden, I rip root from their comfortable homes and tuck them into the many corners and empty holes in the back garden beds. The more transplanting the more watering. The task grows. Watering gives every mosquito in Madison a chance at a very appealing meal. I spray myself but the pesky bugs bite through tee shirts and pants and around my face where I can’t dare spray. One day, I did not put on a cap and was bitten along the part on the top of my head. But I continue, focusing on the green, but there is no way that my hose can come close to the benefits of a good rain and I have grown aware of just how long it was since the last one. I’ve been moving five plants a day for days, many, many days without rain. And so, this morning is glorious! More than a relief from watering for the day, a good, long, deep drink for everything I’ve moved.
Julia had a hard start to the school day. She was evaluated by a therapy provider who may have space in their program and from the information I have been gathering may be a good place to move her therapy goals. She did brilliantly at the evaluation but when she got to school, she could not get into the rhythm of the day. I rarely take her out of school during the day or bring her late because of appointments. Today proved my reasoning sound although scheduling personal in professional offices sigh when I ask for the precious after school appointments.
She could not focus during social studies which was her first class of the day. She blurted out that she was dumb and could not do the work, even though she participated. She was frustrated with herself although she could not articulate whether the frustration came from the work or from her missing the two classes before social studies and possibly feeling out of time with the class. According to her teachers, the lack of focus continued during lunch and she could not/would not sit down to eat. She wrote on her end of day behavior sheet and later told me that she was trying to get another student’s attention, a student with disabilities who Julia befriended last year. She told me that she was “giving L her eyes as she was talking to L and L smiled at her.” “Giving her eyes” when she is talking is a phrase that I use instead of saying “look at me, look at me!” Some of her therapists have “asked for her eyes” when having conversations and this summer, we talked about the “gift of eyes” during conversations. Reading what she wrote and listening to her explanation for spending her 30-minute scarfing down food time communicating, I was almost proud of her.
They want blind obedience, or at least acquiescence to the minute by minute schedule. I know her teachers can’t do this but I wish that Julia could have given L her eyes and seen an encouraged conversation and a lunch time that lasted an hour or more. The idea that Julia was trying to communicate with someone who is not easy to communicate with and who probably would not talk about HP or Sonic the Hedgehog is pretty thrilling.
How to give her this education!?
When I write, anything really, I allow myself time to just pour out anything and everything. I empty, I vomit up thoughts and feelings and descriptions and histories. I allow myself this messy process because I know that eventually I will get to what I want to, need to say at that time. I trust in the process. The process doesn’t fail me. Interesting to others or not, the process works to please me.
Now the task is to find a process that will lead us to educating Julia. I have no idea of where I am going but, to be completely honest, many times when I write, I have no idea what is at the core of my need to communicate. Truly this scares me to death. I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to be foolish with her time and talents, I don’t want to aim too high, I don’t want to underestimate her abilities. Can I take a chance being really messy with her education? I observe her returning from our summer together in Italy a little more independent, a bit more aware. She crossed the street last week! What would traveling the world do for her? Could we really do it?
Actually, this morning, the day after I began this post, the day after a hard school day and after finding a real possibility for a new therapy home, I am, for the first time, actually contemplating this grand project. Global education for a kid on the spectrum. I have roots here. We have roots here. We have a home. Is it time for the training of wings?