I promised Ainsley’s team I would never blog about them again. Turns out, I lied, because here I am once more. The last five weeks have been difficult. I’ve attended PPTs, team meetings, planning meetings, placement meetings and let’s-hash-this-out-so-we-can-move-on meetings. I’ve mouthed off. I’ve complained. I’ve pointed fingers (mainly my middle one). I’ve been downright indignant. I’ve stood firm in my convictions. I’ve not backed down. But, most importantly, I’ve been an idiot.
I’ve received overwhelming support from friends, acquaintances, facebook friends I’ve never met in person and random people who’ve found their way to my website. However, this past weekend, I was retelling the events of the last month to my BFF and she gave me a teeny tiny and much deserved bitch slapping. She reminded me that spring is high PPT season, teachers are gravely overworked, special ed. teachers might be even more overwhelmed and everyone is doing the best they can.
In thirty-five years of friendship, my BFF and I have had very few disagreements. We famously support each other no matter what. We get mad at each other’s husbands if one of us is in a mood (in other words, just because we feel like it). We hate anyone who is mean to each other’s children. I have her unconditional support, and she has mine. However, the laws of best friendom require us to tell the truth, no matter how not fun it may be. Well, last weekend she told me the truth. And I was horrified. At myself. For being such an a-hole.
I had one bad day with one member of Ainsley’s team. I’ve said countless times before that I love these people. I mean, truly, get teary at the thought of Ainsley leaving Essex Elementary, love them. I’ve written three letters to the superintendent of schools and countless emails to the principal about how appreciative and grateful I am to each and every one of them. Raising a special needs child is terrifying. Some days I have faith that my daughter will be all right. Other days, it’s nearly paralyzing thinking about her trying to navigate every-day tasks that most of us take for granted. For certain, I would have lost my mind without the people who care for and about Ainsley every day at school.
Shame on me for forgetting all the good that those eleven people have done for Ainsley and will continue to do for the next three years. Honestly, their legacy of what they have taught my child and how they have learned to help her will continue to benefit her and us for years after she leaves the school. How dare I have a total and complete (and very public) meltdown over one ill-fated meeting and an off-hand comment that was said with no malice.
After many hours of talking, listening, explaining and meeting, I finally understood the eleven-page report that sent me off the boat and to the bottom of the deep end. Turns out the author of said report is pretty sharp and knows her stuff. Many of her suggestions will help Ainsley learn better, and will aid her teachers in teaching her in more efficient and productive ways. The day after we implemented some of these changes, I got an email from her primary instructor saying she introduced a new method of pre-teaching, resulting in Ainsley thriving in a big-group setting and answering two questions in front of many of her peers. Because she has trouble with articulation and organizing her thoughts, answering questions in big groups has never been comfortable for her. Huh- so, one day into it, we’re already seeing powerful results. Did I mention I’m an a-hole?
I keep referring to Ainsley’s team, but there are so many more people who make her school days the wonderful experience that they’ve been. She has a primary teacher, a special education teacher, two one-on-one paras, a physical therapist, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, a school counselor, a school psychologist, a behavioral analyst, and a principal who oversees her team meetings, PPTs and IEP. In addition to them, there are five hundred students and countless staff who go out of their ways to make sure school is a safe, happy and fun place for both my kids.
So this is the blog I should have written. The one that thanks every member of Ainsley’s team for loving her as if she’s their own- the people who always respond to my emails immediately, tolerate me when I’m out of line, meet with me when my anxiety makes it so I can barely get dressed, are patient even when I’m a cow, and who never accept that good enough is, in fact, good enough. They push through Ainsley’s walls, unravel the mysteries of the way she learns, illuminate the paths that lead to her success and are nothing less than professional, warm, welcoming and all together awesome.
Would Ainsley’s life (and therefore Kurt’s and mine) be easier if she didn’t have special needs? Probably. But, I’m not sure it’d be as complete. I don’t buy that everything happens for a reason. I don’t believe Ainsley’s challenges are part of God’s plan or something that was meant to be. I think it is what it is. And while it can be frustrating, disheartening and terrifying, it is also a path that has taught me to be a better and more patient parent and certainly a better person. Would I wish these struggles on anyone? Absolutely not. But, do I believe Ainsley’s life is fuller and more blessed thanks to the people who have come to know her because of her special needs… without a doubt.
To Ainsley’s team, and I mean this sincerely- thank you and I love you.