Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Dread of the School Year Ahead
"I, yes I, am the one who comforts you. So why are you afraid of mere humans, who wither like the grass and disappear? Yet you have forgotten the Lord, your Creator, the one who stretched out the sky like a canopy and laid the foundations of the earth. Will you remain in constant dread of human oppressors? Will you continue to fear the anger of your enemies? Where is their fury and anger now? It is gone!"
~ Isaiah 51:12-13, NLT ~
In the nearly twelve years I have served parent raising children with special needs and chronic illness across the country, I have heard countless stories of parents going to battle with their schools. In fact, I would say that with the parents I serve, school adversity is the rule rather than the exception.
When my children were in elementary school, this would always amaze me, because we had such a positive experience with our school staff. Sure, we had the occasional difficult teacher, but the administration and special ed staff would rally around us to formulate a remedy. The only exception to that would be when the boy on the autism spectrum began bullying and getting physical with our son with hemophilia. That REALLY left the staff in a quandry trying to protect everyone's rights. But then, that's another story for another day.
However, when our youngest child entered intermediate school, all bets were off. School became a living hell. Because she had met all of her IEP goals in grade school, they dropped her down to a 504 plan for intermediate school. Against my better judgment, I let this go, taking a wait-and-see approach to her middle school transition. That was a huge mistake. A school twice as big with three times as many children all given much more autonomy proved to be too much for our girl to handle. And it took me nearly the entire school year to get her back on an IEP. It was a nightmare.
The following year wasn't much better. I'll spare you the copious details, but there was a great deal of instability in her school as well as independence that she did not yet have the capability of handling. Inadequately supervised indoor recesses because of many cold days created nothing but trouble.
Probably the icing on the cake was that the administration always came down on the side of the staff rather than our daughter. Our last meeting with the principal ended in him asking us if we were getting our daughter counseling -- A complete relinquishment of responsibility in my opinion.
So, given the past 2 years, the repeated calls from school, the detentions, the challenges with certain teachers, and the lack of support from the administration, you can imagine how much I am dreading the school year ahead.
It started shortly after the 4th of July when retailers shamelessly began placing back-to-school supplies. My stomach began churning. What if we have another school year like the past 2? I have no reason to hope that it will be any better this year. It's mostly the same players in the same environment. What do I do if it IS another bad year? How long do I give this to work out?
I have no control of how this school year will go. I can set a thirty-day limit on how long I give this year to work before I insist on a school transfer or pull her to homeschool. Yet, it may harm her more than benefit her because she would lose the few close friendships that she has managed to foster in her current setting. And social acceptance and friendships are NO small thing for kids like ours! What do I do?
The two words that are a game-changer.
No matter what, I have a God who loves her, who loves me, infinitely more than the difficult people in our lives work against us. He goes before us, beside us, He has our backs. We need not dread anticipated conflicts with school. He comforts us no matter what adversity we may face.
Why, oh why is my brain always so forgetful that the same God who laid out all of creation is on my side?
The bottom line is that I need to redirect my focus so that it is fully on the One who saves me. He is my eternal hope when things seem so hopeless. Keeping my brain filled with His promises, glorying in His nature, reflecting on all that He has accomplished in and for us, will set my attitude aright.
My dread NEEDS to end. My daughter needs my positive support to walk forward into this school year. The only way to do that is to move in the power of our Creator.
PRAY: LORD, when our kids dislike school or have had difficult experiences there, it is so very hard to send them back. Go before us, LORD. Equip us to be the best advocates possible for our child, while also keeping a positive outlook. We can't do this without You.