Last weekend of the summer. School begins Wednesday morning. Julia’s schedule appears to be set—the elusive second art class has been added and it is ceramics. She will have ceramics in the morning and her last class of the day will be computer illustration. In between, she will have Earth Science, English, Choir, pre-Algebra and a guided study hall.
This getting of classes was an abbreviated battle this year and my advocacy pattern was pretty transparent. I send very polite and patient emails. A healthy understanding of budgets and shortfalls. I am answered with a ‘no.’ I pose an alternative with the same response. No, she was closed out of that class, no, meetings are too hard to schedule before school opens, no, change is not possible. I snap . . . ok, I don’t snap; I step back. I consult with my cabal of special ed moms. Wait a few days. And write another email. “Julia needs a second art class. How do we get it?” I don’t quite see the change in tone but the response comes quickly. Classes are moved around a bit. Her Earth Science section is changed (there is no special ed resource person is either section) and she is placed in the ceramics class. Why that wasn’t offered when I first asked, I do not ask. I take a deep, cleansing breath and send a thank you note.
I am happy to get this set before school starts. Julia didn’t have a worthwhile schedule last year until the week before Thanksgiving. I am, however, left with the itchy feeling that the policy of inclusion is not really embraced–that lip service and written policies exist but that only the children of fierce advocates experience their typical peers in an inclusive classroom. From my cabal, I know that it is also only those kids who are not too difficult to accommodate. The clearer that I see this, the more that I want Julia to live somewhere where inclusion is embraced and supported.
I am still looking for that place.
The sports school year has begun. The West High Football team played last night. The entire cheer team stood in front of the crowd in five rows for almost the entire game. Julia was closest to the playing field and so the back row to the crowd. She was far from perfect but she attended and was on task most of the time. She stayed in her place and attempted 90% of the cheers. She had a wonderful time and was incredibly proud of herself. Her imperfection can still make me sweat and that is entirely my problem.
In this small corner of her life, this is ‘that place.’
I didn’t have to go to the game. She went to the game on the cheer bus and she could have gotten back to school the same way. I wanted to see. I wanted to protect. I wanted to make sure she was not excluded or made fun of. It is the mother bear that wanted to be there. I am contemplating not going to all of the games.
Last weekend of summer. Gentle rain is falling. I love this kind of rain but flooding is still possible in many parts of town. I hope these showers are short lived. However, grateful that there is no more workman and machines in my intersection, that rain prevents everyone from mowing this morning, that water on the streets makes shushing noises when cars drive down the street, that we found the perfect pair of purple high top sneakers for school on Wednesday, that Julia and I will have time to sort fall clothes and ready her binder for school this weekend.