The week has been a challenge. Getting back after a weekend away. A weekend in which we visited what felt like many groups of friends and a few relatives. Julia and I enjoyed seeing her godmother, my Indy friends, the China Sisters, and my niece, nephew, their kids and parents. It all went by quickly and smoothly. Even the drive back was smooth and easy—cloudy driving day, warm enough to take off coats in the car. The niggle in a far back corner of my mind reminding me that there will be goodbye visits that will feel much like this particular weekend.
Julia spent time with the girls who were adopted the same day that she was. Those girls were one or almost one to Julia’s five and a half. Now, the are 13 or 14 to Julia’s almost 18. No longer does Julia tower over the rest of them. They are all very close in height. A few hold out that they will still grow. They might, but Julia was her full height by their age. They played games, and talked, put on makeup and sang karaoke. They threw a birthday party for Julia—she was so, so very pleased!
And then school began again, and once again I took up the relentless march of advocacy.
Earth Science: The week before break there was supposed to be a test on Chapter 28 and 29. The agreement with the teacher was that Julia’s testing would be based only on the chapter packet that is usually about 6 pages long. I thought that 6 pages was about all she could learn for the weekend so I asked the teacher to pare down the 12 or so pages that would have been for both chapters. He told me that she should study to just Chapter 28 and we did (Cutting material in half is not really modification). He didn’t give the test that week, postponing it to this Wednesday. Before break, Julia complained about studying and then not being tested but I urged her to loosen up, although I was rather pissed myself.
This week, the test was scheduled for Wednesday. I reminded the PTB in Julia’s assignment notebook that Julia would only be studying the packet for Chapter 28 like she did before the break. I don’t know how the test was modified but she got a 58. Julia knew the material in the packet well. I expected that if the test was on that material in some form she would have managed a passing 70. I have no idea of what the test looked like, or how she should have studied. And of course, there are no hints.
Then yesterday from the English teacher: Test is tomorrow. It has two parts: part one, short answer (10 pts). Part two, explication (25 pts.). This is not what we agreed on for testing. There is an IEP and we had a meeting with the English teacher. We agreed to at least a week’s notice on any test and a review and/or questions to study with. Julia is not a proficient note taker and there is a scant two pages in her binder on Gatsby. There was not any homework apart from reading Gatsby. There had been homework when she read The Color Purple and it gave me some idea of what is going on in class.
I wrote to Julia’s case manager because I didn’t think I could be civil to the teacher. He relayed the teacher’s response. He said the test will be modified. He also apologized for not giving the 1 week heads up study guide. “I guess coming back from break, made that difficult, or just simply forgot about it.” I responded to that saying: I don’t think the notes are coming home. I know Julia could use taking more notes. She manages a few at times but not enough to study from. “So, is N modifying on the fly? And she is supposed to take a test without any studying and prep? If he doesn’t want to teach Julia, could we get her out of there? Is there some English teacher who might get her?”
After school, her case manager send me this message: “Just heard back from [the special ed co-teacher] about today’s test: ‘Julia nailed today’s test (seriously), and my sense is that she is capturing more content than is developed through testing, and I think that is something that is difficult to get across to a parent. I’ll welcome her in my Composition class next year, and she would do great in that class.'” Well, great that it seems all’s well that end’s well, but what about last night?
They are wearing me down. I can’t keep all the balls in the air. Sometimes I can’t even see those balls. In the midst of these school challenges, I lost my respite provider who was supposed to be with Julia during a retreat that I am partially responsible for tomorrow. And on Wednesday, I felt the weight of a physical depression — There was no really good reason to be sad or needy, but my body was doing some heavy grieving. I managed through the day—two meetings and a bunch of conversations. When I got home, it was all I could do to ask Julia to get ready to bed and to fall into my own. I was shocked at my exhaustion.
By the time I woke up, the heavy veil had lifted. I was most grateful. It was unsettling to be so physically sad without a sufficient emotional reason. I wonder if my body knows better? And after a Facebook plea, a friend came forward to spend the day with Julia tomorrow. Community is an amazing blessing. Now, on to adventure!