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Monday, December 26, 2011

Parent Meeting

I went to the parent meeting, tired with much to do. It was Christmas week and I needed the time to shop, clean, wrap, but the meeting was important to me. I was not only interested in the topic, but I also want to build relationships with other parents at Teale's new school. The speaker was a friend, so that helped push me, knowing it would be a good subject and I would get to see her. It would turn out to be all these things and more. After the informative meeting that addressed many of my million questions about future care for Teale, some of the people hung out chatting. Teale's new to the small private school that we worked endlessly for four years to get her into. I'm anxious to fit in, after years of floundering in schools where neither Teale nor I felt connected. So even though I planned on going Christmas shopping after the meeting and it was already late, I mingled. I introduced myself to other parents and asked about their children, sincerely interested in their journey. Many of the parents had had their children at School of the Holy Childhood from the beginning of their education. When they heard we were new and how hard we had fought to get our daughter here, they often looked shocked. I get the impression the families know SHC is a special place, but maybe their journey was a bit easier than ours? Our appreciation of being there may be greater than families who didn't have the challenges we did to get Teale placed there. With my family, the journey was more difficult because the school district we live in had never supported a child's placement there. They had never financially rose up and paid for this very unique private school to take one of "their" special need's children out of the district. Our school district felt they were doing Teale justice and that she didn't "need" a specialized school. Mark and I felt differently, so even after being rejected three years in a row, we applied a fourth year. As I stood in the mists of these parents, I finally felt home. We are finally in our forever school, Teale can grow up here, supported by peers and adults who love her just the way she is. It is an amazing thing to me, just knowing we no longer have to fight. The principal, the assistant principal and the director of services were all at the meeting. All three of these people were pivotal in our fight to get Teale into SHC. They had their doubts about her fitting in, they were not sure their small school could handle all her needs. Teale is not the schools "typical" kid. Even in the special needs circuit, we are different, Teale's needs and "issues" are many, both physically and mentally. The school has a reputation around town as a school for children diagnosed with Downs syndrome. There have been many other diagnosis of children there, but Teale's level of needs scared them. Her mental diagnosis being the most concerning. The school tends to pick the children in the community who do not have behavior issues. This is something Teale has very little of in a school setting, but convincing the intake committee of this was one of our biggest challenges when advocating for this placement. After the meeting the principal seeks me out and says "She is doing very well here you know." I did know, we see the changes. Teale has a calmness to her, a feeling of belonging we have not seen in many, many years. The principal gushes about how much she loves having Teale in the school and about how much she loves Teale. I find I can't resist my next question to her, "Can you tell me, just one time and then I will never ask again, Mark and you were right." She doesn't hesitate, immediately she hugs me and says, "You were right. Teale belongs here." With that, I finally feel justified, I finally let down my guard, knowing Teale "belongs" is all I have ever wanted to hear.

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