Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You say Bitch like it's a bad thing

We have all been there. Parents, feeling like our child has been slighted in some way by a teacher, family member, another child, another parent, come to their defense in the blink of an eye, ready to fight the world in defense of our progeny. It's natural, like breathing. Now- take the mom of a special needs child- spin the wheel and pick any special need you want- I will be focusing on Autism, but it is the same for all. Multiply that hair trigger defense mechanism by...oh let's be conservative and say A MILLION.

Autism mom's are heavyweight champions when it comes to fighting for our kids. We have had to fight with  school psychologists who think they know more about your kid than you do, or disagree with TWO different neurologists diagnoses. We have had to fight with insurance companies to help pay the astronomical medical bills brought on by Autism. We have had to fight for therapies. We have had to fight with poorly trained (at times) school staff who insist on treating our kids as if they are ONLY one big behavioral problem and refuse to be flexible at all. We have had to fight with our MET (Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team) about IEP goals, supports in the classroom and making sure our kids are getting a good education in a safe environment. We have had to fight with ignorant assholes who say stupid things around and or about our kids- and not in an innocent 'I just didn't know" way. Serious jerks who feel it is their  place to tell you that you are not disciplining enough, you should just spank them, could you please keep them quiet, what is wrong with your child?
Then there is the fighting WITH our kids. Fighting to get them to eat ANYTHING beyond the 4 foods they only let cross their lips. Fighting with them to sleep, get dressed, take a bath/shower, do homework, get away from the TV, not run into traffic. It goes on and on and on.

People that know me are always praising me as a parent, they admire my determination, my drive, my constant and loud advocating for my son, my great attitude and how I am so happy in the face of everything that sucks. "Courage under fire" was something someone said to me once- and I almost burst out laughing, not because of the compliment (which it definitely was) but for the fact that I can put on an amazing front, and pull off an Academy Award winning performance on pretty much a daily basis!

It's true- you wouldn't like me very much at all
I carry around A LOT of suppressed anger. Anger at fate for dealing me this hand. Anger that my kid at 9 almost 10 cannot do the things other kids his age are doing. Simple things, like run around at the local carnival with his friends, checking in for cash once in awhile with me.  Anger at myself for wishing he could be "normal" sometimes. Anger at other kids when I see them looking at him and snickering while he expounds about dinosaurs or Star Wars. Anger at other parents who have no idea how lucky they are they don't have to deal with some of the shit I have to- and RAGE at looks of pity.  (I have 2 other neurotypical kids- so I know EXACTLY what is different in raising The Boy) And anger at teachers who can't be bothered- who only include him in general education special projects because they HAVE to, and for not teaching compassion, acceptance and tolerance as every day core values across the curriculum.

To make a long story somewhat shorter- when The Boy moved back to school where we live after 3.5 years at an amazing school, with amazing teachers we had an idea of what to expect. But it has been so much worse than what we even tried to prepare ourselves for. The lack of communication, the refusal to even TRY to keep him mainstreamed, his misery, the lack of expectations FOR him, the ostracizing of him as well as a class of special needs students- who only participate in "specials" and science and social studies- well- let's just say that my Bitch Meter has been in the red most of this school year. And believe me, I am POSITIVE that I am discussed and referred to as "a bitch" and you know what? GOOD!! When you have had to fight as much as I have just to get your kid the acceptance and education he is entitled to over the last almost 10 years,(the last nine months being the worst since kindergarten) then you might be a bitch too! And the sad thing is- fighting for your kid- no matter how calm, educated and respectful you are brands you as A Bitch.  They haven't even come close to seeing just how much of a bitch I can be. I have ranted and raved and cried at home, calling the MET every dirty name in the book, but at the meetings have been in control, and presenting my side in an articulate and educated way, all the while wanting to stand up and yell and tell them what stupid assholes they are. But I don't- it would be counterproductive.
It is fucking HARD to hold it all in there. With all the resentment and anger just below my cool smile- you would think that having to deal with bullshit would be the straw that  breaks the camel's back.  But- the storm always comes later- and unfortunately it is my wonderful husband who has to bear the worst of it.

So is it really any wonder that what seems like something so small can get my hackles up in such a big way? Something like....getting an email from the Special ed. teacher saying the the general ed. teacher wants me to bring in...oh, let's say crackers for a grade wide presentation at school.  And when asked why the gen ed teacher didn't just ask me herself either by phone or email, or BY SEEING ME AT THE SCHOOL EVERY DAMN DAY, she doesn't have an answer. Well of course she doesn't! She is being used as a middle man, plain and simple. Once again, the glaring fact that The Boy is not considered part if the school community slaps me in the face. How else would I see it?  He is being "allowed" to participate in this presentation, and oh, let's throw mom a bone and maybe she can bring something so she feels that her kid is truly included.  Over crackers and a simple email, yes I have lost my tenuous grip on my anger. Petty, stupid, immature- call it what you will. But when I see how the other teachers, students and parents look at my son, the way they ignore me when it comes to class projects, or worse, treat me (and him) as an afterthought, using stupid excuses like "I had the wrong email address" - well, this is THE.LAST.STRAW. 

If you want me to provide something for class, a presentation, whatever, ASK ME YOUR DAMN SELF. The Boy is a part of YOUR class too- he is not just a "special ed student". I NEVER once had this problem in the other school, the gen ed 3rd grade teacher ALWAYS emailed, called or sent a note home if she needed me to do anything. I am at the school every freakin day...I am not hard to get in touch with.

If  fighting for your kids, doing what you have to do to ensure they are healthy, getting a decent education, and happy makes one a bitch- then give me my Bitch Badge and I will wear it proudly.  But if/when the day comes that I really unleash my inner bitch on you- don't say I didn't warn you.