We finally reached the end of our school year. Finally. I'm pretty sure this one was measured in dog years. I am so glad it is behind us.
I have been away from my blog for 6 weeks. This is no way to build a readership, I know, but life is a journey and my journey has been bumpy lately. Starting this blog meant sharing my thoughts and being vulnerable. It means letting people know the good, the bad, and everything in between. Appearances would dictate that I don't share the hard stuff, but to censure the blog in that way would contradict the spirit in which I started it. Realistically, though, it's not always easy to be true to that spirit. Some things are just personally harder to express and take time to process.
I spent the better part of May doing research. More research. The never-ending pile of research. Why? Because we had yet another IEP meeting to tackle near the end of May. This was our 5th meeting of the year. I think that is a record. I wonder if I should call the Guinness Book of World Records? I may have made history this year in terms of IEP meetings.
I'd like to say that this meeting was particularly important but the truth is that every meeting has been equally important. They are also equally stressful. This one, though, seemed more monumental because the discussion was to focus on K's school placement for 5th grade.
Armed with my delicious To-Die-For Blueberry Muffins (aka Suck-Up Muffins), we dragged ourselves to a 7:45 a.m. meeting. My husband and I had spent a great deal of time discussing our different options, what we wanted to accomplish and our strategy. This time, I was going to be the Good Cop and he was going to be the Bad Cop. Have I mentioned how much this ridiculous game play irritates me? Still, we've learned to play the game. Blech.
As expected, our options were reduced to two: keep her where she is, with the same supports in place and where she continues to fail and make little to no progress or move her to a special education class at a different school. Both options left us with a sick feeling in our stomachs. The school team strongly recommended the special education placement. I could speculate as to the different reasons why each person on the team felt that way, but it would be discouraging to do so. Although I try to leave emotion out of it, this is always an emotional situation. I was struck by how easy it was for them to let her go. Again, I thought about how much love she has shown them, day after day, year after year and even if they believe it to be in her best interest, isn't it hard for anyone to say goodbye to her? And what about her social and emotional well-being? She has only ever known this school, these other children. Moving her means changing everything - school, teacher, speech therapist, students.
Oh and the irony? The same specialist from the school district was there. You might recall from an earlier blog entry that he mentioned how the final decision on placement belonged with the district. I found that funny because there's no way anyone but my husband and I will have that final decision. At this meeting, he simply stated that these were the offers on the table and it would be a decision for my husband and I to make. I think he's finally getting to know me! So glad he figured that out! LOL!
We left the meeting without choosing either option. We needed to think. I needed to process this monumental change.
In the meantime, while we thought about it, another challenge got in the way. For some reason, the week after our meeting, K started experiencing significant anxiety. She missed most of the school week and the pediatrician wants her to see a child psychiatrist for assessment and possible diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. I'm not sure I can accurately describe what it was like to see her in this state. She was not herself at all. She was a wreck and it broke our hearts. Her anxiety was based on an irrational fear and nothing we could do or say seemed to help at all. We just had to be there for her and hope she could get through it. Even now, I get teary-eyed thinking of her in that way. Our happy, smiling, loving girl was replaced with a scared, shell of a girl without a smile or laughter or her normal buoyant personality.
Now our decision became exponentially more complicated. Would she be more stressed staying where she is, but continuing to fail or moving to a new school with no guarantee of success? I think I got another clump of gray hair and 15 more wrinkles that week.
For now, we've decided to accept the offer to move her to a new class at a new school. We are also considering homeschooling. The speech therapist that has been working with her at school since 1st grade is moving to the same new school, which made that offer significantly more appealing. We shall see where this leads us.
Still, even in these difficult times, I look at her and realize how much more she brings to my life than I could have ever anticipated. I am so much better as a person for having this particular child in my life. When I think about how much I used to take for granted, I am grateful that my eyes have been opened.