Tuesday, October 8, 2013

truth stories: the phone call (part 2)

My original plan was to intentionally leave that story hanging, using it as a parable of sorts as we continue to explore ways we make life work (or fail to).  But since many of you are nagging me about what happened next...

I met with the preschool director and pastor later that same afternoon.  They'd been blindsided just as I was; each apologized profusely and encouraged us to stay.  I told them I had no intention of leaving.  I'd volunteered to chaperone a field trip later that very week, and I'd be damned if I was going to miss it. Yes, I did say that out loud, and the pastor grinned (to his credit).

A couple of days later, Luke and I boarded a school bus along with his classmates, his teacher, and half a dozen other moms.  They knew I knew what had happened, and I knew they knew I knew.  Awkward.  Thankfully, Luke was oblivious. 

It was October, so we (predictably) visited a farm/pumpkin patch.  Luke spent most of the time off to himself, exploring or digging in the dirt; that suited me just fine.  I enjoyed being with him in the sunshine and the quiet.  But when it was time for the animals, he made his way to the front and pressed his face against the fence.  Near us, a mother pointed to the large birds in the field, exclaiming in a high-pitched drawl, "Look, sweetie! Look at the cute ostrich! Isn't he cute? That ostrich is so cute! What a cute ostrich!"  Luke, who hadn't spoken all morning, tugged at her shirtsleeve and said flatly, "Excuse me, that's an emu."  The farmer immediately exclaimed, "You are absolutely correct, little man - those are emus." High-pitch cute-lady rolled her eyes.  I bit my lip and chuckled to myself, feeling better than I'd felt in days.

The situation at the school continued to be miserable, but I was determined to stick it out - until a few weeks later, when the special education teacher who came to see Luke several days a week pulled me aside.  She said, "I know you think it's best for him to be with typical peers, but I really wish you'd consider placing him in one of our Bright Beginnings classes. There's room at the Plaza Rd location, and the teacher is fantastic. He is not going to flourish here, this setting is far from ideal."

Now, I must confess:  at this point in my life I still cared far too much about shallow things like "the right part of town" and "where the Jones's kids go to school" and a lot of other stuff I now consider to be useless nonsense.  Also, Charlotte locals keep in mind:  today, Plaza Midwood is one of the coolest parts of town,  but ten years ago the only time I heard the area mentioned was because someone had been shot.

I couldn't think of a worse idea.

Still, I agreed. Reluctantly.

The first time I drove my baby down 29 to Central Avenue, I stifled sobs.  Why would I bring him here?  He's liable to get shot in a drive-by while playing on the playground!  And what would the other students be like?  Poor, ill-behaved kids from troubled families?  It wasn't fair, he didn't belong with kids like that ...

Did you catch that? Did you hear what I was thinking?
Was I any better than the mothers who wanted my son out of their kids' school because he was different? 

But let's wrap up this story...

Plaza Road was a god-send.  Luke benefitted from the best teacher, assistant, and therapists I could've imagined for him.  They weren't put out by his little quirks and needs; in fact, more often than not, they were a step ahead of him.  Best of all, he started to engage more with his classmates, who accepted and befriended him.  We both have fond memories of Plaza Rd Preschool, and the Bright Beginnings program will always hold a special place in my heart.

side note:  Ironically, we now put two of our kids on a shuttle bus every morning that transports them to a public, arts magnet school downtown, where the student population is truly diverse. Some kids have doctors for moms or the district superintendent for a dad - others are literally homeless.  They come in every color, gender identity, and sexual orientation (as do the teachers and staff).  We value this as a critical part of their education.

While there's really no ending (Luke is now 15 and enjoying 8th grade), I hope I wrapped things up enough to satisfy curiosities.

This is one of my stories.  The what's of your personal stories will differ greatly from mine, but the how's?  I believe much of those, we share.  We'll draw those out, as we continue on together.

Next up:  another phone call story... 

No comments:

Post a Comment