Monday, May 27, 2002

May 27-31, 2002

MAY 27, 2002

Today's a holiday, no school, no work, no worries ... except that I've got so very much to do. I've already slept too late, lingered too long over my coffee, postponed posting to my Web site. And now there are all these THINGS that I was going to do with the long weekend still waiting to be done. Housecleaning. Moving things back from where they were dislocated by painting. Picking out some new furniture that will withstand vicious and messy use by children. Housecleaning. Writing notes to teachers. Helping children write thank you notes for birthdays that are now months past. Reading piled-up newspapers and magazines. Housecleaning. Previewing schoolwork for next week. Helping my son take a computerized test for an on-line enrichment course. Making notes for his IEP. Reading "Sarah, Plain and Tall" with my daughter so that when she reads "Skylark" next week in class she will know who those people are. Putting sticky poster tape back up on freshly painted walls. And did I mention housecleaning?

Ah, the weekend seemed so long two days ago. There was so much time. Where did it all go, exactly?

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MAY 28, 2002

My son's IEP meeting last week went pretty well. We talked about his activity level and his tendency to be out-of-focus, we talked about the progress he'd made in all areas in spite of that, we talked about his academic abilities and the fact that he now, at the ripe old age of nine, knows how to skip and do jumping jacks. The teacher surprised me by suggesting he skip the next level on his self-contained special-ed track and go to the one ahead of that. But by far the most thrilling moment of the meeting was when the social worker finished her report and said that she thought they could all agree that this boy's mother really knows him well. And they all did.

Imagine that -- a child study team agreeing that a mother knows her child! How incredible! How unprecedented! How immensely gratifying! And what a big improvement from earlier in the year, when our former child study team leader (now retired) told me that I should listen to my daughter's teacher, who knows her; this being a teacher who had "known" her for all of two months. Who knows, though -- perhaps they still think I don't know my daughter, only my son. I won't know about that until her IEP meeting, which this time around falls in the fall. I'm thinking maybe I'll ask.

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MAY 29, 2002

For the past three months, I have been playing phone tag with the Director of Special Education for our school district.

Well, that's not quite true. For one thing, playing tag implies that occasionally I get tagged back, and that hasn't happened. I do the calling, and no one does the calling back. It's hard to play tag when the other person won't chase. And for another thing, this particular Director of Special Education has not been on the job for three months; he's new, and therefore oh-so-busy, don't you know. So for some of that three-month span, my messages were being ignored by other, transitionary personnel. The Director of Special Education himself has only, in fact, been ignoring me for a couple of weeks.

Last Monday I escalated from phone calling to faxing, a technique that with the previous director got me a response right quick. But this time, nada. And the same for the three follow-up phone calls I made yesterday. I'm reluctant to escalate to the next level -- registered letter -- because the request I'm making is really more in the nature of a favor than the pursuit of a government-given IDEA right. I could be gotten rid of so easily; I just want a little information, or even to be told that I can't get that information right now. Just a little respectful explanation would probably make me go away for a while. And I can't even get that.

Sometimes, I think what our special-ed department really needs is a Director of Public Relations. Or, at the very least, a Director of Calling People Back.

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MAY 30, 2002

The back windows of our house look onto the front lawn of our local high school. We get concerts when the marching band practices in the parking lot, we get an early look at next year’s baton twirlers and cheerleader wannabes, and in late spring, when everybody goes to the prom, we get a good view of the smashed-up car that serves as a warning sign to teen-agers: Don’t Drink and Drive. Don’t Speed While Driving. Don’t Drive Unsafely. And Don’t Do Anything Else That Would Make Your Car Look Like This.

At the point the car gets towed to the grass outside our window, it’s pretty dented up. Then it gets smashed up -- with baseball bats, maybe, I’ve never seen them do it -- until the windows are broken and the tires are flat and the poor thing looks like David Letterman dropped it off a 10-story building. Then it gets grafitti’d with sayings like “No!” and “Think!” and “Don’t!” and “Live!” This all happens over the course of weeks, and is an endless source of fascination to my car-obsessed son. He can tell you what make and model the car was for each year since we’ve been living in our house and witnessing the car-nage. He goes to visit the car every day, talks to it, gives it a pet name (this year’s victim, a mini-minivan, has been dubbed “Mini”), leaves it flowers, yells goodnight from our window every night. He panicked one day when he saw that teen-agers had tipped the car on its side overnight, and will be sad when it finally gets towed away.

The smashed-up car has made an impression on him, but does it make an impression on the students it’s meant to scare? Maybe not. The paper yesterday had a story of a senior from the school dying in a car crash in which several other students were injured, and while the police were not releasing information about whether there was alcohol or recklessness involved, I couldn’t help but think of “Mini,” and whether it had been smashed in vain.

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MAY 31, 2002

Starting tomorrow, Hallmark joins Wendy's in the adoption promotion business with its glossy-looking new series "Adoption." The Hallmark Channel program, sponsored by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Dave Thomas's favorite restaurant, starts with an episode involving adoption from Romania, Ethiopia and Texas, followed the next night by another Romanian adoption and the story of a birthmother trying to find the right open adoptive family. Episodes then follow one a week, with storylines including adoption from China, Guatemala, Vietnam; open adoption, special-needs adoption, fraudulent adoption, disrupted adoption; searches for birth parents and birth siblings. It sounds like a pretty fair sampling of the adoption experience, and all the stories, as they say, are true.

It will be nice to see adoption treated in an upbeat fashion (hey, it's Hallmark) on a weekly basis, even if it's just on an extended cable channel that many people don't get. It will be a good test to see if people will watch a non-sensationalistic treatment of the subject. The channel's Web site for the show offers, along with episode descriptions through August, many adoption-related links, a FAQ and a download of the Dave Thomas Foundation's "Beginner's Guide to Adoption." And, for the post-adoptive among us, an opportunity to share our stories -- not on TV, you understand, but on the Web site. Condense your adoption experience into a graceful 250 words, and your essay may be selected by Hallmark's editors for posting on the site, providing inspiration to the pre-adoptive. You'd think they'd at least throw in a lifetime supply of cards or something.

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