We’ve seesawed back and forth (or is it up and down?) over educational decisions for the kids. I can’t post a school-related picture anywhere without someone asking “wait, I thought you were homeschooling?” or “doesn’t she go to school with her brother?” I have a hard time choosing what to eat at a restaurant we’ve been to ten thousand times so ask me to choose the best path for my children’s entire educational future and I will go spiraling into a debate which ends with deep thoughts over baked potatoes or rice.
At some point I do decide on a side dish and we before or after that we thought it best to send Parker to school, keep Ashlyn in her post-high program and homeschool McKenna and Sawyer because that’s what they want and that’s what we want and that’s what’s working-ish for our family.
It’s strange to have a child in general ed. Years ago I was completely overwhelmed by the flip side. Special education terms and ten thousand meetings and requests for accommodations and modifications left me wishing all I had to do was fumble through a dinner menu. Now I drop Parker off at school and I pick him up and when McKenna’s anxiety isn’t through the roof and Ashlyn doesn’t need me for some something that she usually needs me for during the day, I help in his classroom. When I volunteer I’m always surprised by the normalcy. This is what you do? You just go here and then here and you don’t leave the room for half the day and you don’t need headphones to block the noise of this gym? How about a special diet? Dairy-free cupcake anyone?
For a minute I felt calmed by having one foot in “normal.” Watch out world, we might even play an instrument or participate in an after-school activity. A long string of disastrous drops offs and pick ups and a botched volunteer day put me back on my usual planet. Can we get a special pass for a general ed child with special needs siblings? Maybe an “I’m late because my sister’s anxiety spiraled out-of-control at 7:45” or how about a “let me out of school early because that’s my mom out there trying to carry my sister who cries a lot but until we see her specialist again we don’t know why?” We’ll have one of each, or ten.
I’m a general ed impostor. It took having one child seated at desk 23 for me to understand this completely. Our life is so firmly planted in exceptions and special arrangements that normalcy is disorienting. I’ll make play dough for the class and turn in an age-appropriate book order and wear yoga pants with the best of them but once we’re home and Ashlyn has made her way in from the bus, I shut the door with an exhale of relief.
I’m proud of my little kindergartener and happy to have a glimpse of the general ed life but this peek at “normal” has reminded me of it’s overrated status. I like our quirky clan and almost 50% of the sounds that come with their return to each other every day. Where labels are shrugged off with backpacks and my biggest decision is fettuccine or angel hair.
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