Thursday, February 12, 2009

I Hate The Mailman

He only seems to bring dread into my home these days-that postal dude of doom. Today there were two worrisome notices: 1) the confirmation of Seth's developmental evaluation by both a speech therapist and a developmentalist, and 2) the ten-page evaluation of Liam by the private Occupational Therapist that we hired last fall. It had already been a rough morning for me, a wind storm blowing in and causing our mild temps to drop and the regular chill of the Burgh to hit my tender skin with a thud. I had driven to Target with the boys to get Benjamin a bike, which my parents had sent money for as his birthday present. Silly me- to think I could fit a 20" cycle into my husband's sedan (he'd taken my van to work). Well, lots of four-letter words and my frost-bitten self later, we headed back home and there were the envelopes. I should have put them to the side and left them for a better-mood moment. Hmph.

I will admit that I am mentally compromised at times, due to some hormonal havoc in my body, but most mothers would surely agree with me that there is nothing worse than finding out that there is something "wrong" with one of your children. The Seth issue, as far as his developmental delays, I can cope with- but Liam, my eight year-old, it has been at least two years of constant concern and efforts on our part and things seem to be getting worse, at least according to the test results I'm seeing. To top it all off, as much as I love his current teachers, I am beginning to suspect that our school district is pocketing a lot of the coin they receive on behalf of "Title I" kids (like my son), instead of actually putting it towards services that these children need and deserve. Rage has set in, like a lead balloon in my belly, and I can already sense that the "mean Judy" is going to be appearing very soon at the elementary school, popping open a can of whoop-ass on those people. I believe that there is a window of time where significant developmental issues can be addressed and successfully put to rest. Then, at some point, and it is probably an individual time-line, certain basic elements cannot be retaught and you lose kids to the system. And let me tell you folks, I AM DONE WITH THE SYSTEM. And my kid isn't going to be some statistic, in some prison somewhere, because no one gave a hoot when he was in _______ grade, that he wasn't thriving- that his self-esteem was plummeting while they gave him a number and told him they'd get to him when they had a chance. Hell no. Especially given the fact that we thought we had left the "bad school" thing behind when we left the D.C. area and headed for what some would consider the utopia of educational experiences. And my tax bill will prove to you that we more than pay our fair share for our children's five days a week here (you could pay a mortgage with just the school tax alone- not my mortgage- but someone's mortgage).

Its funny, but for a long time, I've had this real "unschooly" type of mind-set where I believed, and still do to an extent, that children don't need mass-education in order to LEARN- that the very act of learning, as quoted by the infamous John Holt (see my sidebar), is innate, and happens as an act of nature, not manipulation. But if you are going to plop your children down into the public school system, then there are certain things you must accept about their lives at that point- that they will be told what to learn and what is important, and you will have very little control over how that is done. And, as long as your children fit into the mold, they will be fine- even great. But if they don't learn the way that the "majority" does, its sink or swim and even in the best districts, it may be sink. We have plopped three into this system thus far, with some hestitation- there are pros and cons to everything, and three years ago, when we settled in this town, the pros about the local schools seemed to out-weigh my doubts about them. The pros have mostly panned out-all except for one of the teachers that any of my kids have had, thus far, have been superb- tremendous people that I truly enjoy being with on conference days or on the occasions that I read to the class or volunteer. Even in Liam's case, where he has very notable delays, his teacher and resource support team this year are really experienced, positive role-models for him, and women whom I feel genuinely care about his welfare. But the institution as a whole is failing him, and its hard to be in this position and not feel bewildered and depressed. Next week he has an appointment with an Occupational Therapist at Children's Hospital in the city, for what will hopefully be a real turning point for him.

On to brighter topics, Granny (my mom) is here- flew up this afternoon in the storm- spending hours in the air while the Pittsburgh airport attempted to declutter its runways from all of the debris which had taken it over in the wind. My kids love this woman to death (as do I) and were thrilled to come through the door to find her in the livingroom, hanging out. She'll be here for a little while, to help us get through some business trips and school meetings and maybe even a date (if we're lucky). I know that there is nowhere she'd rather be (sorry, Dad) and the happiest I've seen her in my life has been with my kids. That alone, is a blessing.

Well, I've got a stack of new reading materials to pore through, all about my own diagnoses and maybe some cures, then the "See You In A Hundred Years" piece by Logan Ward, which I mentioned a couple of posts back. Reading generally lifts my mood at least an inch or two- so here's to sunnier days, Granny in the House, and our ever-so-kind mail-man who really doesn't deserve to be the bearer of bad news- he's a very nice fellow (and he speaks kindly to Benjamin and the kitty!).

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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