It is the debut of summertime this weekend. But my thoughts are pondering three months from now, when my three elementary school-aged children will attend three different schools: one just around the corner, one a few blocks to the east, and one in a neighboring town.
I am not doing this to complicate my life. It’s too late for that, snort! This situation arises from the reality of my boys’ vastly different needs.
Charlie has qualified for small-group kindergarten, which I think is the perfect fit for him to begin his school years successfully. Enduring the nightmare that was the school district’s Early Childhood Assessment Center paid off in spades when their cumbersome testing resulted in a positive, happy, spot-on placement for Chachi.
Jack attends a small-group autism class at his dream boat of a special needs school not too far away. It’s essentially perfect. I hope they let him stay there until he’s 30.
This year will be the first wherein Henry will walk to his charter school a stone’s throw from home, while his nine and five-year-old brothers will ride two different busses which will pluck them from our porch each morning, and hand-deliver them back home every afternoon.
The sum total of two different busses making two daily appearances at our home, five days a week, results in twenty weekly front-yard bus pick-ups/drop-offs. If you weren’t aware that we aren’t your typical family, this might be a substantial, yellow, diesel-fueled clue.
The whole situation makes me laugh. It’s funny. It’s us.
Once at a toddler music class, one of the other moms asked which school my kids attended. I explained that while my eldest went to one school, his younger brother had attended five different nearby schools from preschool to third grade, moving wherever the right special-needs placement happened to be. A couple of the moms quipped that they would hate that. I was pregnant and miserable and simply didn’t have the heart or the energy to cobble together a soapbox and explain that I am deeply grateful for the fabulously helpful resources available to a family like ours, where the kids aren’t all formed from the same cookie cutter and can’t conveniently attend the same neighborhood school. I ignored them and went back to swallowing the churning, nauseating bile while my three-year-old and I pounded on bongo drums.
I read a blog post recently by a special-needs mom—a kindred spirit. She simply titled it Disability is Inconvenient, which is the truest understatement ever. It isn’t convenient to have three elementary-aged sons at three different schools. Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day class parties are a logistical nightmare: they always seem to happen at precisely the same time!
But here is the fabulous part: these educational options exist. They are in schools all around us. While they aren’t always perfect, overall they are pretty great. They are helping me educate my children–my little bright, funny, unique, enigma people. And for this, I am thrilled.