I should have been on the track and field team in high school. After all, I really enjoy running, I’m getting pretty good at jumping over hurdles, and I most often do it with a smile on my face.
Last week, our family entered into a new and exciting chapter as our little girl started Kindergarten. Excitement about a new adventure, and anxiety of a few unknowns swirled through our house. We stocked up on the recommended list of school supplies, added a few extra Braille friendly extras to our study corner, and even bought Marley a new Frozen lunch bag.
Hurdle #1. It was the Friday before the first week of school and we’d still heard nothing from CCSD Transportation. Marley had taken the bus to school last year, so I had assumed everything would be fine and dandy. Well, you know what they say about assuming. With my husband working, the school being just under a two mile walk, and the temperature still in the triple digits, I was forced to scramble and find someone to drive Marley to school. Almost a week had gone by and still no luck reaching anyone. 20 phone call attempts later, I was able to reach a real live person to on the other end. We were told that since we lived less than two miles from the school we weren’t eligible for the bus. I explained that transportation is included in her IEP, and a 0.2 mile difference shouldn’t be a reason for denial of services. Now, we needed to have the school nurse send in paperwork on Marley’s behalf in order to get bus services started. After this was done, I still heard nothing from transportation. Today, I was informed, “Oh yes, it shows right here ma’am that your daughter is scheduled to start taking the bus on September 10th. The bus driver will be calling you on the day before to let you know that transportation services have been approved.” Really? I was expected to be in limbo until the day before! Thanks to the fact that I’m not that patient, thanks to my phone call today, we don’t have to wait blindly because of a departments dysfunction.
Hurdle #2. I prefer the proactive approach to life instead of the reactive approach. I called Vision Services the first week of school just to make sure everything was on track. This is how I found out that Marley’s TVI (teacher of the visually impaired) had retired over the summer and she’d been assigned a new TVI. I also found out that their database had not updated the fact that Marley is now at a different school this year. Instead of reacting and getting upset like the old me might have, I decided to send an email and to open up the lines of communication between everyone on the educational team, and welcome the new TVI on board. This email explained our philosophy and views on blindness, and how we’d like others to treat our daughter. The email also stated our feelings on Braille and the use of a cane and asked for support in making the school a Braille rich environment. I felt pretty darn good about that email. I even scored a meeting with all of Marley’s teachers from it.
As a runner, I have learned that the most important thing to do, besides stretching, is to keep my breathing and pace steady. This came in very handy when I came to hurdle #3 when Marley told me that a teacher made her use a cane with a rolling tip. This may not seem like a big deal to most people. It might even seem like a good thing. To me, it was a direct slap in the face that my specific requests were dismissed. The rolling tip cane is much shorter and heavier than the metal tip carbon fiber cane. Think of it this way. Would you want to use a cable cord that is broken in multiple pieces? If you had the choice, wouldn’t you rather pick one that is more efficient in transmitting information in a solid fluid pathway? We discussed this in length at Marley’s IEP last May with the O&M (orientation and mobility( professional who’d been assigned to work with Marley. This was why I felt like my feet had been kicked out from under me knocking me on rear when Marley told me she’d been given a rolling tip cane. Again, I emailed expressing my concerns on the matter. At the recommendation of fellow parent of a blind child, I will be addressing every issue that concerns me in writing from now on.
So, I’ll just keep running… and jumping… and running… and smiling…
Oh and I’ve actually gone and joined the neighborhood gym. I’m that girl running on the treadmill wearing the huge smile on her face jamming out to Pandora’s excellent music selection.