Sunday, October 6, 2013

truth stories: the phone call

I have no idea what I am doing. You might have figured that out by now.

First I wrote about acceptance. Soon after, my beloved Tracy wrote this; she asks wonderful questions that I don't necessarily have answers to, but I do have a lot of thoughts about.  Now I want to go back and rewrite that entire post, but I won't.  I'll just have to write another one. Soon.

Then I wrote about thought work. I stand by what I shared, but with exponentially increasing moments of "don't be hearing me saying that because that is NOT what I said".  I'll get back to that, too. Eventually.

I'm fairly certain a good Ann Lammot quote would make me feel a lot better right now, but I can't even decide which phrase to lift.


Just keep writing, Michelle.

Today, I'm resisting the urge to clarify. It would be self-indulgent and more than a little crazy-making. Instead, I'm going to tell a few stories that keep rising to the surface.

Why am I jumping from answering deep questions about life to telling stories?

Because I believe they hold the potential to express what I'm trying to convey better than any amount of eloquent exposition.

They are true stories.  Are they truth stories?  I guess we'll have to see.

I was standing in the kitchen of our old house, when the phone rang. The voice on the other end was hesitant.

"Um, is this Michelle McConnell?"


"Yeah, um ... you don't know me. I'm so sorry to call you like this, but I can't do this anymore. It's just not right."

"Who is this?"

"My daughter is in preschool with your son, Luke. The letter you shared with us that first week? That's where I got your phone number..."


"Yeah, and ... well, it was real sweet of you to introduce yourself like that. We've never had a child with autism in the school before, and ... well, I guess you know some people aren't happy."

I stiffened. Yes, I'd heard. 

my Luke, about 10 years ago
Two years prior, a developmental pediatrician gave Luke a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder for his third birthday. We'd enrolled him in this particular church's preschool because it was small, close by, and friends spoke highly of it.  It was of vital importance to us that he remain with typical peers, and at that time we still thought "Christian" meant best, so it seemed ideal.  The public school system sent therapists and special educators into the setting, to support him there.  It had taken months of meetings, phone calls, and emails to put everything in place.

But it was turning out to be far less than ideal.  He was curious and busy, quiet but friendly, sometimes challenging but never violent.  Still, his very presence made some people uncomfortable.  The rumor-mill was working overtime.  I knew this.  I'd hoped my letter would proactively suppress the drama.  

I'd hoped.

What sounded like a stifled whimper jolted me back to the mystery phone call. Was this woman crying?

"I'm sorry.  It's just wrong."

"Wha- I don't understand?"

"The parents (sniff). They called a meeting with the pastor and the preschool director - they are all there right now! I just couldn't go. They are demanding that your son be removed from the school. No one wants him there. They're saying our kids won't get the instruction they need to be ready for kindergarten because he takes up too much time. They're saying if he doesn't leave, then they will.  All of them.  I'm so sorry, I just had to tell you ... "

My legs gave way. I slid down the front of the refrigerator, sending magnetic letters and numbers across the kitchen floor. I can't say for sure whether I managed to mumble a "Thank you" before hanging up the phone.

I spent the rest of the day in a sort of shock, outwardly trance-like but inwardly swinging between wild rage and all out, black-hole-depression.

(to be continued)

1 comment:

  1. I would have got in the car and drove to the school like a mad man. I would have certainly given them a reason to kick my child out. Fortunately you are much more refined than I am but we are kin so I know it ran through your mind :)