Friday, December 3, 2010

What a mess...

For the first time in a long time, I've got nothing.

This week a decision was made about Billy's schooling. I didn't handle it well. And it's a mess, now.

In short, they insist he attends full time, he gets sick and overwhelmed attending full time, they can offer no option but full time.

With that insistence alone, an avalanche began.

It's school. It's him away from home, independent. It's friends. It's birthday parties. It's learning to do stuff like other kids do. It's courage and challenge and difference. It's understanding, and community and support. All falling down around me as someone insists that his needs are not possible.

I may have missed some vital class in parenting 101, but it doesn't take much to make me cry. I'd like to think most parents can be pushed to tears over their childs' needs. But I am, unfortunately, a little closer to the edge than most. It might be the hours of therapy, the diagnostic process, the ongoing health challenges, the serious health crises in the past, the fears, the google degree and all the horrors that deposits in the mind... or it might be just me (more likely)... who knows...? Suffice to say, there are tears fairly close at all times.

Two years ago, the tears seriously slowed to a trickle. Why? Because we found a beautiful school where Billy was welcomed. Not just as a student, but as a human. Where what he did was taken on board, accepted and understood. Where his cognitive skills were not neutralised by his neurological challenges. Where he could eat when he wanted to, use the toilet when he needed, play where he needed to... where the community took each member as a gift - full of lessons that went well beyond letters and numbers.

The tears emerged every so often for sure. Sometimes it was health related (tonsils, mycoplasma, numerous dehydrations) and sometimes it was school related (needing to add more autism understanding, realising he was lagging in curriculum areas) but they were transitional tears, and each bout seemed to make us stronger. It helped, immensely, that we had a beautiful multi-coloured safe place to fall.

It is always hard to play the parent game, and it's a little more challenging when your child's well-being has to dictate your activity. If Billy is sick, we can't hit the world until he is better. I've written many times before about  watching him try to function on half power. So we shut down, re-group and re-enter when we can. Then we make up lost time, in work and school terms. This made me a fairly unreliable parent in the school. I tried as hard as I could, but I definitely failed sometimes.

Hippy school gave Billy a voice. Literally. He learned it was OK to communicate with kids. Previous to hippy school he ran away from every child he met. It gave him skills to share that voice, through writing and singing and dancing and making. It gave him co-operative play and jokes and the sheer unadulterated joy of kid laughter. It showed him how to process his thoughts and express them. It showed him that the world was not an overwhelmingly scary place. In fact, it was the opposite.

I can not thank the whole school enough for that. I could not have done that alone.

Hippy school gave me a voice too. Because while my son was safe, I could work easily for the first time in his life.

It feels like a lot to lose.

It is a lot to lose.

So, unfortunately, the tears are back. Oh boy, are those tears back. And people don't like tears.

I am scared now, and though I know we will find a path forward and we will make the most of it... right now, it's a mess.

I don't know how to go backwards. I don't know how we can replace or replicate a school setting like the one we've had. I don't want to lose any of it... But I also don't want my child's physical and mental health compromised any more than it has to be.

And I don't want people upset, especially kids, but this is hard. This is the hardest thing we have faced yet. I know that this is our business and it's no-one else's job but ours to make it work, but one decision has collapsed our already precarious mountain. And it's a huge, huge lesson.

Even in an accepting, understanding world, there are some things that can't be accepted.

Thinking cap on.


Anonymous said...

You see the world well always I believe, even if you think you may not in this instance. You are so circumspect Val. Don't be too tough on yourself. Do exactly as you are, all in good time. Regroup with that formidable thinking cap of yours firmly on ( where can I get one of those?)and I know you restack the crates and rebuild...something as good...something maybe even better. If there is no place where that can happen...then it's time to get political because it is a failing of goernment and infrastructure. Still thinking of ya. Take care. Karen A

Caitlin Wray said...

So, so, so sorry that you have hit this significant issue Val. Crying can be cathartic. Don't resist.

Have you written to your relevant Ministers protesting this position, and explaining how it makes it HARDER for him to learn - and isn't LEARNING the ultimate goal of schooling?

Let me know if you need any help with letter writing. I'm a seasoned pro at it, after the fiasco we went through with Simon's schooling last year.


K- floortime lite mama said...

I have many hugs for you
But not much useful advise
Somehow R being happy is just paramount for me and its soo painful when I know he is not

Lisa said...

I don't know if this will help or not, but here's some things I found out while exploring options years ago:
1. Kids have to be officially enrolled *somewhere*.
2. It ain't easy to get education systems to agree to share an enrolment.
3. It's theoretically possible to, say, have a full-time enrolment with distance education (which can be free if you have medical reasons for not attending a bricks and mortar school), and a private agreement (for instance with the hippy school), for occasional attendance for social reasons.

It may be worth a discussion. It might change the situation for hippy school, if they weren't being held legally responsible for Billy's formal education, with the attendant funding, attendance, and curriculum requirements.

father of four said...

"I don't know how to go backwards" That's good. Keep taking those small steps forwards no matter how many times you are pulled back. That's what I keep doing. One step after another until you can look behind and see where you've been and how you have come.

father of four said...

sorry ... how far you have come.

Di said...

I am so sorry that you had to go through this. It is a tough one when your dreams are not realised. I know you have now made the decision to homeschool which I think is awesome. I presume there are homeschool groups where you live so that you and Billy can connect with them. Make sure to make a plan to have some 'me time' as well - if you can!!!