Seeds of Strength.

The Sucker Punch  left me reeling.  I was still absorbing the shock when I wrote that post. The after-effects left me dazed.  And when I woke from that stupor, I had to look at the remnants left behind.

I feel a bit like my son’s education was a nice garden.  It was mapped out. The crops were chosen.  The area of land located.  The garden workers were selected.  The seeds were all sown.  They were being watered.  Little tiny sprouts were, ever so slowly, starting to emerge.

Then, they came with their torches and burned it.  I was left shocked.

But I came back and looked at the garden.  It was empty with a haze about it.  But it didn’t really look all that different.  The little tiny sprouts were gone, but the earth was still good.  The rows were still mapped out.  The garden workers were still there, standing and waiting for directions.

A few days passed. First, came my cohort, Jessica.  As you may recognize by now, Jessica does not hold back.  She is honest and sometimes, blunt.  She sat down and told me she was worried about her Tootles being removed from class.  She was worried about his self-esteem.  She reminded me how he knows about everything that is happening around him.  How he shows us later what he understands now without using conversation for communication.  Even though he doesn’t “talk” about it, he has let us know he can hurt about it, deeply.

In our house, trains equal "pain."

At first, I told Jessica how they believe little T has been placed in theoretical physics without his pre-requisites.  She told me a story about a blue reading group and a red reading group. The blue reading group was the slower one.  When Jessica was growing up, she knew a little boy who was placed in the blue group and was devastated.  He acted out and ended up getting kicked off the school bus.  She was afraid that Tootles might end up like the little boy on the bus, knowing he was held back or transferred because grown-ups did not believe that he measured up.

I looked back at the garden.  Brushing aside the burnt earth, Jessica planted seed number one.

The next day, I attended a meeting.  At this meeting, a bystander mentioned knowing that Tootles has just started kindergarten at a new school.  Mention was made at this meeting, by one of them, to the bystander, that Tootles’ responsiveness to all types of instruction (verbal and non-verbal) was down. The bystander, uninvolved with the burnt garden, immediately said how the lower numbers were to be expected with a brand new environment, new routines and new people.  Hey, I thought, that makes sense.

Looking at the garden again, I saw an un-scorched bit of earth.  The bystander had unknowingly dropped and planted seed number two.

Now with these two seeds germinating, a little sprout of it’s own, appeared in my brain.  One night, the two of us, Tootles and I, were sitting down doing homework.  As nicely as I could put it, I asked him, “Do you want to go back to baby school with Miss L or do you want to stay in kindergarten with Mrs. C ?”  He loved Miss L (and baby is not offensive to him.  He still says he’s my baby).

“Stay in kindergarten with Mrs. C,” he answered softly (and articulately, I might add).  He did not hesitate.  I was interested at the level of his interest in staying put.

Having quite a bit of difficulty with the homework that night, I took advantage of his desire to stay in kindergarten, by telling him that to stay put, he would have to a good job on his homework. We set out to write a good row of letters.  With prodding and prompting.  He made a huge effort to have his letters stay inside the lines and – he did it!

It was, I realized, ridiculous that I had not checked in with the very guy whose life I was affecting. Yes, he may be young and autistic, but it’s still his life.  The least I could do is to ask how he felt on the issue.  The little guy, who all this fuss was over, was clear in expressing his desire to stay with his new class.

So, I had now talked to the owner of the garden that had been burnt down. The owner told me the crops were where he wanted them to be.  Yes, he told me.  Let’s sow the crops here.  Try again.

And wait for them this time.  Have some patience.  Let them grow.

Yes, I will, I answered.  I will wait.  And I will make them wait.

So, off I went to the town.  I gathered the garden burners.  I found their leader.  I told him that I appreciated that he wanted to protect my son.  I appreciated that he was there to tend the garden by himself when everyone else was looking the other way.  But I had to do right by the owner of the garden.  I needed to give the crops time to grow.  I needed to wait.  And I needed to stay put, even if that meant that the garden burners would all leave us behind.

The leader surprised me.  He said no, they would not leave.  If that is what I wanted, they would do everything they could to make the crops grow, even though they advised the crops would not make it in this sunlight, in the rain and through the winter.  They would do everything they could to assure a successful crop.

I want to believe them.  But, I don’t.  They have their own agenda.

Meanwhile, those other seeds planted by Jessica, me and the bystander? Those are some really hearty seeds.  Seeds of doubt?  Yes, as to them.

Seeds of strength for my son.

The owner of the garden is doing a lot of hard work to keep up the growth.  And so will I. We’re going to make it.

We’re staying put in T’s class.  No one will take him out of that class without taking me out too.  Even if I have to pitchfork them all to help.

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About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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12 Responses to Seeds of Strength.

  1. Lizbeth says:

    Can I borrow your pitchfork? I hear every parent-advocate should have one.

    It takes a very good friend to say something that she knows may cause more pain and heartache. A real, true friend knows it needs to be said and will say it anyway. You have a very good friend in Jessica. A very good friend. You both are such great advocates for T. Because of you he will do great things. You know that, right???

    • solodialogue says:

      You may borrow that pitchfork and stuff it right in that teacher I read about over at your place today!!

      I am very lucky to have been blessed with such a comic and friend as the Jessica!

      (We both know that Alex and T are already doing great things – and they blossom best when we fight for them! )

      We both know. xoxo 🙂

  2. Flannery says:

    Wow, very nicely written, friend, very nice.

    These decisions are the ones that keep us up at night and have us living in fear. Did I make the right decision? Was this the best choice for my son? Do the teachers know better than me?

    No one could have prepared me for what it would be like, dealing with teachers and administrators. It’s bad when you’d rather go to the dentist than a school meeting. But the one thing I remember, no matter what, is that these people are only here for a couple of years. You’re here, I’m here, for life. We have to make the decisions that benefit our sons for life, not just a year or two.

    You do what you think is right, no matter what. If it doesn’t seem to be working out, then you come back to the table and make another plan. But you’ve got to give it, give him, a chance.

    You did the right thing.

    • solodialogue says:

      What a lovely comment! Thank you from my heart. It’s a tough road for all of us and who would know that we would have to learn a whole set of rules and fight those who teach our kids? But if we must fight, we will… (I’ll just sharpen those pitchforks a little extra for that next IEP…) 😉

  3. Broot says:

    [Stands. Claps.]

  4. Teresa says:

    Surround yourself with people who believe as you do. Not to say they cannot offer an outside perspective that we sometimes need. But avoid naysayers. Remember no one loves your child more than you. You ARE his best advocate!

  5. Beautifully written! I’m sure that little boy will blossom, no matter what. I can’t wait to see him grow.

  6. ElizOF says:

    Oh Karen, I feel for you … You have written a great post to share the struggles and frustration with all. Kudos! All will be well. 🙂

  7. ElizOF says:

    Still catching up… kids in town from fall college break. 🙂

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