Friday, August 29, 2003

The IEP List: Stressing about School

Mostly, I'm happy that my kids are going back to school on Wednesday. Mostly, my reaction is like the one in the second line of Ken Swarner's new "Family Man" column. But I have to admit that the onset of school season has me a little stressed, too. Here's what's on this Involved, Educated Parent's worry list for today.

1. My son ended his mostly successful seven weeks at a mainstream summer camp by mooning his campmates. Does this mean that a) he's ready to get back to the structure and control of his self-contained special-ed classroom; or b) that I'm going to be getting lots of very interesting calls from the principal?

2. All those wonderful and perceptive notes to the teacher I was going to write for the first day of school -- the ones I had all summer to write, at my creative leisure -- are unwritten still. And due Wednesday.

3. The very year I send my sweet, good little 13-year-old to middle school, a movie comes out about a sweet, good little 13-year-old who goes to middle school and learns some Very Bad Things. I thought Evan Rachel Wood, the movie's star, was fantastic in the late, lamented "Once and Again," and so I wish her and her movie well, but -- sheesh. Do I really have to do a daily check for body piercings and shoplifted goods? (Maybe not. Slate has an interesting take on preteens and the moms who worry about them.)

4. I will never be as organized as these people.

5. I got my daughter this simple, basic homework planner, partly because there were good recommendations on and the cover is yellow, her favorite color, but I don't know -- do you think I should have gotten this fancier one instead? Personally, I like a lot of bells and whistles with my planner, but my girl's even a little confused by the simple one, so maybe I chose wisely.

6. The blissful summer of imagining how well the upcoming school year is going to go is over, and now I have to start dealing with things again -- did they give my son the right aide? is he in the right class? is my daughter actually getting inclusion after three years of promises? is she being coddled too much? is he being protected enough? are plans being followed? is behavior being analyzed? is homework being done? When I think of all the phone calls and letters and meetings and conferences and wailing and gnashing of teeth in my near future, it makes me want to sit and moan with my daughter, "Why can't it be June again?"

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