This week was Tommy’s last ever IEP. If you’ve never been to an IEP, imagine having your job performance review posted on a blog and amended by trolls. Or, imagine sitting naked while everyone screams insults at you. Wait, that’s something else. It just seems that unpleasant. Doug threatened to sneak champagne in the school to celebrate this momentous occasion. Instead, I sat in my usual chair in the school conference room and listened to the voices in my head shrieking in terror. You know how after being in labor for hours and hours, you suddenly want to do nothing but go home and sleep? How even though you’ve whined for weeks that you want that baby to hurry up and arrive, you now think you would prefer to be pregnant a few more weeks? THAT is how I felt. No, I don’t want to sign away all the services and support that my child has been getting. He’s not ready. I’m not ready. It’s too scary. Please don’t take the training wheels off the bike.
We signed the papers. Tommy is done with special education and they are done with him. He’s being thrown into the shark infested waters of the real world. I was given less than 30 seconds to mentally grasp the magnitude of everything that we just lost. The
judge woman from vocational rehabilitation began the oral interview which she will use to decide if Tommy deserves any financial assistance for post high school education. She has a pile of paperwork that includes his ACT scores (28), his IQ (xxx, I don’t want Tommy to know how surprisingly well he tested) and his Autism testing results. The paperwork will have some influence on the determination of eligibility, but ultimately it comes down to this woman’s belief in Tommy’s ability to succeed. There are thousands of other people asking for financial assistance and they may be more or less capable than Tommy of learning vocational skills, but I will never know them. I can only hope that Tommy makes the cut.
I used to work for a non-profit agency. I was always looking for new grants that might fit our agency. The actual process of grant writing was not technically difficult, just time consuming. It completely monopolizes your time and energy. After the bulk of the grant is finally written, the ten zillion forms have been created in a dozen different formats, a dozen different people have requested edits to the report and the final result has been transformed into about 25 bound copies, it is shipped all over the country. Then, you wait. When you have almost forgotten the grant, you start hearing through the rumor mill if you made the initial cut. Ultimately, you never know exactly why you do or don’t get any of the requested funding. You either move forward with the obligations you promised in the grant or you start all over with the grant application procedure.
There are two things that I hated walking away from when I left my job. One was an event that I coordinated in May. The other was a grant funded Transition program. I was seriously vested in the program and suspected that the other agencies involved didn’t have the same goals for the program. Now, I know I was right. There is still a gaping hole where there should be a covered bridge. I left the program, but here I am, back in the same place I was when I left. One way or another, I was destined to cross this ravine. I step outside of myself and look at my situation’s irony. I am still at the mercy of the whims of others, but I must keep moving forward, no matter what they decide. I recognize that everything that has happened in the past has been to prepare me for the present. Whatever happens now will be preparation for the future. Again and again, my children teach me more than I can ever teach them.