Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Out of the loop again

I've been having another of what I'm going to start calling "inclusion mom experiences" these last few days. These happen when those of us with our brains so deeply in the machinations of special education and advocacy find ourselves completely clueless about the commonplace events of mainstream education. Last week, it was the care and construction of dioramas. This week, it's the All City Band. Turns out our city has one. A press release touts it as featuring "the finest fifth-grade instrumentalists" in our school district. And my daughter's been invited to join.

The first I heard about any of this was when my daughter's classmate, in the car on the way to the bowling alley, told me that my daughter made All City but he didn't. He revealed that his big sister hadn't made it either, and his parents really thought he might have a chance to make it, but no. Apparently families plan for this, anticipate this. And here I am so busy fighting inclusion battles and plotting IEP strategies that I never even got a chance to worry about it in advance. My daughter didn't really know what it was all about, and now that she does -- the bus trips to rehearsals, the performance at the high school -- she's in a panic about doing something out of her nice safe routine. But if she's not excited enough, and I'm not sure how excited I'm supposed to be, we've got plenty of people ready to be our excitement advisors. My daughter's trombone teacher e-mailed me to make sure our fine instrumentalist was okay, because she didn't give much of a reaction when she got the news; and her classroom teacher actually telephoned tonight to let us know that this was really a big deal. I'm getting the idea now.

And all I can think about is how my mother would have lived for this. She would have known years in advance that there was such a thing as All City, and she would have followed my every note in breathless hope for it, and she would have had to lie in a dark room with her stomach in knots on the day the letters were to be handed out, and she would have been heartbroken if I didn't bring one home. She'd probably have called the music teacher to plead for my reconsideration. It was wonderful to have such a passionate advocate, and somewhat daunting, too, to have such nervous tension borne on one's behalf. So perhaps this is a good thing about being an inclusion mom, and being out of the loop when it comes to regular-ed contests and laurels: It's nice when one of them comes up right, but you don't have to obsess about the honors missed. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

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