Last week, I was awakened on Monday morning by the sound of a hard rainstorm outside the French doors of my bedroom. The rain poured down hard and heavy. I laid there inhaling the cold fresh air and knew this was it. This was the rain to wash out the old and bring in the new. This was the rain I had been waiting for for months.
Sipping my coffee under the patio that morning, I reflected on the past ten Octobers. October has always been my favorite month of the year. The weather cools down, pumpkin spice is everywhere, and each weekend is occupied with fun family events. Ten Octobers ago, I took the first steps into my future as an independent blind woman when I was introduced to the National Federation of the Blind. This October, is the start of a Braille rich future for my little girl. This October marks the beginning of her fingertips taking her to worlds she never imagined. This October was when she officially began Braille classes.
Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I am typing. Last Tuesday was the IEP we’d all been waiting for. With the cane issue being tabled from the last meeting, Marley not receiving any Braille instruction six weeks into the school year, and no answers in sight, we decided to pull Marley out of full day Kindergarten, putting her into the half day class for a better use of everyone’s time. We’d decided to look for Braille elsewhere if she wasn’t going to get it in school. Walking into the meeting room that Tuesday morning, I felt the anxiety disappear instantly as the crowd of educators greeted us. The air, the energy, the body language, and the entire meeting was night and day different from the last one. We left two and a half hours later with everything we wanted, and more. Due to human clerical error Marley was overlooked and her case neglected. From now on, she’ll be getting 45 minutes of Braille instruction a week. The best part of it all is that she won’t be pulled out of class for it. She gets to have her lessons after class. She gets to continue using her long white cane. Her new Kindergarten teacher is learning Braille right alongside Marley. Her school principal is willing to do whatever he needs to to ensure that Marley gets the best possible education.
The first day of Marley’s Braille life officially began that Wednesday at 11:45am. I sat i the school office waiting for Marley to be brought to me after her first Braille class. I heard a cheerful voice call out mom and her arms squeezed around me with her work in her hand. Her vision teacher was amazed at how much she already knew. I had been working with Braille with Marley for some time now, but moms, you know how hard it is to teach your own child. After arriving home, and feeding the kids their lunch, I found myself crying tears of joy into my own lunch. If only I had been introduce to Braille at an early age. If only she knew how hard her mommy struggled, and the reasons why I fight so hard to make sure she gets as many tools in her toolbox earlier than later. Just days before, Marley had told me I was thee worst mommy ever because I was making her practice her Braille. Now, she showing me her alphabet and name she wrote for her teacher. She has a Braille sticker with the word, “Good,” on her shirt. I cried into my salad as all the fear, anxiety, and frustration melted from my shoulders as a ring of golden keys appeared carrying with them a bright and beautiful future of endless rich possibilities.
The next few days flew by. Jackson turned four Thursday morning by waking up in his brand new bunk bed. Friday, we took the family to see a double feature at the drive in. We threw a mattress pad, blankets, pillows, and packed up dinner to hang out in the back of our Honda pilot while watching Hotel Transylvania and Pan. On our way home from the drive in, I received a text that the documentary about me had won best film and best cinematography in the film festival it was featured in that night. Saturday, Marley and I gave a presentation about blindness to a girl scouts troop. This made her want to join girl scouts even more. Sunday, our family headed out for an afternoon of beep baseball hosted by the Nevada Blind Children Foundation. Marley got to experience playing beep baseball for the first time, and I got the opportunity to talk with other parents of blind children.
Tonight, I sit typing away under the patio sipping my tea, and reflecting on how incredibly lucky I am. I’m lucky to have a husband who has a job that allows me to stay at home with our children. I’m lucky I have a supportive network of friends I can call on for anything. I’m lucky that my parents did the best they could as new immigrants to this country, not knowing the language, not a dime to their name, and dealing with their daughter’s vision loss. Most of all, I am lucky to have found the National Federation of the Blind, to be part of the movement that is changing what it means to be blind so that my daughter can live the life she wants.
Yay! You did it! I never had any doubt that you’d be successful advocating for Marley. This is even better than I imagined! Congratulations!
Thanks. It’s frustrating that there are bottles that we have to fight for our children to get a decent education. This battle has been one, but I see many more to come.v thanks. It’s frustrating that there are bottles that we have to fight for our children to get a decent education. This battle has been one, but I see many more to come. v
I am thrilled to have found your wonderful blog!! We are adopting a little boy who is blind and are planning to homeschool him when he gets of school age. I feel so encouraged by your blog! Thank you!
45 minutes a week does not seem like enough braille instruction. Usually it tries to equal the same amount of print literacy instruction. If she is not dual media, she should be having braille every day.
Yes, I completely agree that 45 minutes is not enough each week. She is a duel media learner. Along with the 45 minutes a week with direct braille instruction, there is braille integrated into the classroom. We are also getting outside braille tutoring. I’m sure you understand how much of a fight it is. I won’t stop at 45 minutes. This is just a great start.