So, this blog was gonna be about whispers and “looks”, but today’s events turned out to be more blogworthy than any event ever. Day one of summer school.
AS part of Ben’s IEP, he is eligible for an extended school year—in English it means he gets the privilege of going to summer school. So when I got the application in March, I filled it out promptly and sent it back to the powers that be. A week or so before school ended, I received notice that Ben was to attend his preschool class at a certain elementary school, and the times of the class. That was it.
So, preschool classes have routines, yeah? One big one is the morning meet & greet. At his previous school, we all met by the buses (many of the students were bussed in) and after a rousing good morning, the kiddies would go off with their teacher to eat school-issued coffee cake and chocolate milk. (don’t even get me started on THAT one…) Anyway, since I was unsure of the “first day of school” routine since we joined in later in the year, I figured I would go to the school, find where the bus dropped off and his teacher would magically appear. Mistake number one.
Instead I was greeted with THE LINE. Did we know what the line was for? No. Were there signs posted as to what new students were to do or where to go? No. Did I drink too much coffee before I stood in said line? Yes. Does Benji like to stand in lines? Dear God, please help me.
Now, unbeknownst to me, what we were supposed to do was go the auditorium and wait for our child’s name to be called with their teacher. You think someone coulda written that down on a piece of paper and taped it to the fence… No need to get fancy with lamination or anything. Just a sharpie and a piece of copy paper—Hell, it could have been one sided to be more environmentally friendly.
So, after standing in the line for a while, rumor spreads that if your kid is already enrolled, that you can go up to the front, dragging your screaming toddler with you and check “the list”. So we did that, no dice. He is not on the list. Really? I applied in MARCH. Do I have a copy of his IEP? No—I APPLIED IN MARCH, dumbass. Why would I have a copy with me? It’s not as if I carry it around—it is a rather thick document and not very multitask friendly. I suppose I could use it to beat off an attacking dog, but I digress.
Ok. So I head back home to get his F#*&in’ IEP. It made sense—Benji would not stand in lineas it was, so if we left and came back, it should be much shorter. So I went home, picked it up, headed back. After parking 3 miles away--ok, two blocks, I arrive to find a mommy friend in the same line with one of Benji’s classmates. So we got to mutter and harp on the idiocies of the system, while we edged closer to the front. As we get closer, the aide from Ben’s previous class came by and told my friend her son was on some list in the preschool classroom. Was mine? She didn’t see it. GODAMMIT!
(now, I should have checked myself at this point. Hindsight and all that…, I guessed I assumed the system would work it all out.)
So, it get up there, turn in my subsequent paperwork, and am directed to room 1. Not the room all of Benji’s friends were going too. Uh-oh.
See, this is a big transition for him, and ideally, he needs some familiarity to help him deal with it. Flexibility is not a strong suit in kids with autism, and Benji is no exception. I had already heard through the grapevine that his previous teacher was not here, so I was hoping that he would be in a class with some faces he knew. I knew he needed it. This session is only 4 weeks long. It wouldn’t be very functional if Ben is resisting it for 3 weeks…
So we’re off to room one, following a woman who seems to be training to be an Olympic speed walker, and I’m trying to keep up without dragging Ben behind me like the migrant worker warning sign. We get there, and the teacher—alone in a room of children (warning #1) looked up in bewildered confusion (#2) She has no roster, and begins to ask me questions about Ben, but barely paying attention and looking confused more (#3). I ask her where the kids will be dismissed so that I can be there to pick up Ben. She didn’t know. SHE DIDN’T KNOW? She consulted with the teacher in the room next door—a breath of seeming coherence in this sea of crazy, and they agreed to dismiss upfront by the busses. (DUH…and #4)
Now, class will be dismissed at 10:30—and at this time, it is 10. So I go move the truck from BFNoHo to closer to the school and wait. As time gets closer, I head over to the entrance and chat up some other moms. They are shocked that Ben isn’t in their kids’ class. Then, my gut reminds me I wanted to talk to that teacher in room 24. I head over there to ask the teacher if Ben is on her list. LO and BEHOLD…
So I head BACK to the office, to talk to someone AGAIN, only to hear my kid screaming outside as he’s being lead out with his class. So I run to gather up his blotchy face and mucousy nose, and we head back together to get back in THE LINE.
Now, this time in line made me privy to some office gossip. (as a prior teacher, I’ve learned to listen closely to whispers in the main office—they are almost ALWAYS informative) Seems the preschool lists were MISSING. Our kids were on some other list that the people in the office didn’t have. Those lists got delivered as I neared the front of the line.
At this time I begin to notice that my right side—the hip Ben is perched on, is feeling moist. Perfect. He hasn’t been changed. Awesome.
“My son is supposed to be in room 24. The teacher in that room has him on her list, and I would like him to be in there to be with familiar faces.”
“Huh, so he is. Well, I’ll just cross you off that other list…”
I have a number of lists I’d like to cross you off of—the first one being HELPFUL EMPLOYEES IN LAUSD. The next being MASTERS OF THE OBVIOUS.
So, now he’s supposedly on the correct list, but lord only knows when the teacher will get his IEP. Or when I’ll get my copy back for that matter…(I really need to make multiple copies of that damn thing). We left there exhausted and hot. And moist. At that point I thought, fuck Weight Watchers. They can watch me go to McDonald’s. Ben agreed. Well, he said “fries” which I took to be agreement.
One day down. 19 more to go. My waistline or sobriety can’t take much more of this…