Thursday, January 09, 2003

Middle school fears and hopes

My daughter is continuing in a minor panic about the impending doom of middle school, just eight months away. The current #1 fret is that she'll never be able to change her clothes fast enough for gym class. And granted, she does take her time with clothing transitions at home, sometimes disappearing into her room for tens of minutes just to put on her PJs. When I explained, though, that the locker room won't have music to listen to and hair accessories to play with and a mirror to pose in front of (and that she wouldn't want to pose anyway, with classmates looking on), she started to see how changing might be able to be accomplished at a faster-than-grass-growing pace. But she still doesn't get why she can't just wear her school clothes for gym. I've explained about body odor and having appropriate workout clothes and keeping school clothes clean, but I think she suspects what we all secretly know is true: It's just another example of school-induced torture. Let's wait until kids get to the most physically insecure period of their lives, and then make them change in front of one another! Heartless, is what it is.

But while the fifth-grader is facing the change of schools with dread, I have to say that I'm feeling kinda cautiously optimistic about the whole thing. In the past month I've spoken to two people who will be working with her next year -- learning consultant and guidance counselor -- and was impressed that they seemed open-minded and willing to help. Heck, I was impressed that they were even willing to take my phone calls. My daughter's transitional IEP meeting is at the end of this month, and I'm going into it with a suggestion from the learning consultant that we keep her in an inclusion class for the time being -- as opposed to adding resource room, which everyone on the Child Study Team but me has been pushing for. Could it be that, in middle school, I'll actually have an ally for keeping this girl in a regular classroom? Probably as likely as my daughter being able to change in under five minutes, but miracles could happen.

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