School started Tuesday.  Today was my first morning getting all three of my school-going kids ready for school by myself.  Mister Bubby’s ride comes at 7:25 a.m.  Elvis’s bus comes at 7:55 a.m.  Princess Zurg’s bus comes at 7:58 a.m.  Tuesday and Wednesday PZ’s bus was running 25-30 minutes late.  Today it showed up on time, which threw me because Elvis’s bus had not shown up yet, nor would it for ten more minutes–not a bad wait, but it’s just that Elvis was ready to go when his sister’s bus got here, but PZ didn’t have her shoes on yet.  To her credit, she was able to get out the door quickly.  She didn’t insist on finishing her breakfast or brushing her teeth.  Ahem.  Of course, her hair was uncombed and she probably had jelly on her face, for all I know, but hey, that stopped being my problem at about 7:59. 

Now it’s just me and the baby, and I can’t believe there aren’t ten things I have to get done in the next five minutes.  We can eat breakfast at a leisurely pace.  I have plenty of time to brush my teeth and comb my own hair, which happens less often than you might think.  Okay, maybe you expect me to have my hair combed less often than I do.  The point is, I fully expect to have combed hair at some point this morning, and that’s a treat.  Yay for basic grooming.

Usually I’m apprehensive at the start of a new school year.  In a way, summer is less stressful because a) I don’t have to wake kids up or have anyone’s hair combed before 8 a.m., and b) I don’t have to field calls from the principal about any “incidents” that may have occurred that day.  Any and all “incidents” happen right before my very eyes in the privacy of my home.  Okay, and occasionally in the grocery store.  This year my major anxiety was finding MB a ride to school, and my husband ended up taking care of that one.  (Thanks, honey.)

I am strangely unworried about PZ this year.  Part of it is that she seems to be responding well to the Zoloft–still crazy, but less volatile.  The other part is I just feel like it’s about stinking time she hit her stride.  This is a ridiculous expectation, of course–kids don’t “hit their stride” just because it’s about stinking time and this foolishness has gone on long enough, missy–they grow and develop at their own pace and of their own free will.  I suppose, technically, that should be “their own paces” and “their own free wills,” but that sounds stupid.  You know, I studied this language in college–English, in case you couldn’t tell–and I even got paid to write in it at one point in my life, but lately I have difficulty stringing more than two words together.  I guess it’s not so much the stringing as what George (H.W.) Bush used to call the “vision thing.”  I have a vision of my words making sense and not sounding stupid, but I have difficulty conveying this vision to the American people.  Also the Canadians.  But I digress.

Where was I?  Oh, yes–I know that this expectation is ridiculous, but it’s there, nonetheless.  It’s deep in me.  I can’t seem to purge myself of it.  I must be tired.  How much longer can this stage of life go on?  We had an IEP meeting for her last week.  I realized as I was going to it that I had no idea what this meeting was supposed to be about.  We don’t usually have IEP meetings before school begins.  Well, it turned out that the meeting was to discuss the possibility of alternative placement for PZ, who had an extremely rough fourth quarter in third grade, and the rest of the team was wondering if maybe the Social Communication Center classroom was not the best place for her after all.  The SCC is basically the end of the line for autistic students in our district, so what did they have in mind?  A clinical day program in freaking Tigard.  They would have bused her, but still–Tigard!  (Have you gathered yet that Tigard is a little removed from our neighborhood?  Does it seem strange that my first reaction was “Tigard!” and not “Clinical day program!”?) 

You know, we’d discussed the possibility at May’s IEP meeting–in very general terms–of considering alternate placements outside the district, should things not “work out” (I’m giggling here) in her current placement.  The district liason told me at the time that she’d like to start researching the possibilities, and I said she could knock herself out because what else could I say?  I’d learned not to close my mind to anything, and anyway, I figured we’d cross that bridge when we came to it.  I really didn’t expect that the bridge would come to be on August 29, a week before school started.  I kind of expected that we’d begin the school year by giving the current placement the old college try and hoping for the best.  I didn’t think we’d be discussing clinical day programs in Tigard–or anywhere.  Not to worry, she’d be able to stay in her current placement for the two or three weeks it took to process the paperwork.  Well, that’s nice.  If they were serious, why didn’t they research this possibility before the meeting in May and have us file the paperwork then?  Does it really seem like a bright idea to put her back in school in a familiar environment with her friends and then rip her out of it after two or three weeks to send her to freaking Tigard?

Fortunately, I was sleepy that day and didn’t have the energy to respond with what I was thinking, which was, “AAAAAAUUUUUUUGHHHHH!”  Instead, I calmly stated that I would prefer to hold off on that decision and give PZ another chance to succeed in her current placement.  I didn’t say it in such a coherent fashion, no, but I was calm, and that was the important thing.  They said, “Okey-dokey” (I’m paraphrasing), and we all signed the IEP and scheduled a meeting for September 27, at which time we’d revisit the proposal.  I should have felt relieved–or rather, I thought I should feel relieved–but I actually just felt sick.  Sure, in my hours of deepest despair I’d considered all kinds of “alternative placements” for PZ, but it didn’t seem possible that it would come to this.  Is my child really that out of control?  Is she really one of those children?  Am I that much in denial?  Are things this much out of my control?

Unfortunately, I don’t have time for introspection because the baby has opened the box of tampons and is disassembling them.  Gentle reader, adieu.

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