Can you love your teachers and school?
I mean – really – can you? At 46, I’ve been around the disability block a few times, so I am serious when I ask you this. Can you emit a sense of love with your child’s school?
If you would have asked me this ten years ago, I would have said, “No Way!” My daughter would have been 2 years old and getting ready to graduate to developmental preschool – our first taste of the public school system.
I had heard way too many horror stories to give any love to those people. To make matters worse, I was working down at the statehouse in Indianapolis as an appointee to the governor. I was living a front row seat in regards to all the problems parents were facing throughout the state.
Schools were bad. They would take advantage of you. They would try to do everything they could to give you as little as possible. They could not be trusted.
In fact I so didn’t want to do the school thing, I sent my daughter to a private preschool, shunning the developmental preschool program at our local public school. In addition, I refused to ask for the school to pay for my daughter’s tuition or my travel expenses. I wanted to be free for as long as I could, before I had to enter their doors for Kindergarten.
I have always been a free spirit, so I am sure that this played a role in my decision making. However, more than anything, I just did not want to step inside that school. I was clinging to my daughter just being a kid. Someday, she was going to be given a label and placed in a special educational program. I wanted her to stay in the “just a kid” club for as long as she possibly could.
Ultimately, I was faced with what I felt was the day of reckoning. Let’s see, Kindergarten, not too bad. They even let her go for an extended day so she didn’t have to be pulled from her precious few hours there for therapies.
Her teacher was a dream – she loved Sarah and she was enthusiastic to have her in her room. The kids loved her too and she was invited to a few birthday parties. It wasn’t that bad.
First grade – same thing. Gen ed teacher struggled a little more, but I was trying to make the most of it. She had seemed to make a great circle of friends.
Second grade, it was a new special ed teacher and I wasn’t happy with how the year had started. I tried to pull some of that tough stuff – 60 days, 30 days and LRE. Did she have any idea who she was messing with? It worked, because I knew more than the average parent. But I sure didn’t like it.
It hit me like a ton of bricks shortly thereafter. I could be difficult and sure I would ultimately get what I wanted, but at what price? I gave my negative attitude up very soon after the infamous meeting. I could not stand the idea of ten more years of arguing and nitpicking.
It’s easy to love more as you get older, because quite frankly, the world begins to tell you a different story. Your body may begin to deteriorate but your mind and heart finally begin to grow. Whew!
Today, I love my teachers and I love my school and I find that this seems to make up for all the mistakes that we both will inevitably make throughout my daughter’s school experience.
She continues to thrive and I truly believe that she receives more than she ever would, even if it was placed in stone through an IEP. My daughter thrives because she is surrounded in love every day. And it didn’t just happen – I made it happen.
Love of family, love of friends and love in her school. She has deep friendships and teachers who care and this is what is important in life.
Can you love a little bit more? Trust a little bit more? Give a little bit more? I promise you – your child will benefit.