My son and daughter are a few years apart but currently in the same school building. My son generally flies under the radar, and my daughter, well, she’s going to make sure you know who she is. Recently I realized many people didn’t know my kids are siblings. They were also surprised I was my son’s mother.
You see, with my son I’ve never had to be “that mom.” The mom who calls the school all the time (you can hear the secretary roll her eyes over the phone), the mom who’s dreaded at IEP meetings, the mom who asks questions and expects to see data and proof that support the answers people give. With my daughter, I’m that mom. I am, in their eyes, a b*tch.
I said it!
I mean, I know the school personnel are thinking it, but let’s take the pressure off and put it out there.
Dear School, I know you think I’m a b*tch and a pain in the a$$.
You didn’t know I even existed when you had my neurotypical son as a student, did you? But, I’ve been there all along!
I think many of us who have to fight for our children feel this way. We feel anxious because our reputation proceeds us. The teachers each year are warned, “Ugh, watch out for her!”
I must wonder if these same school personnel ever give pause to figure out why I and other special needs parents are perceived this way. I wonder if they realize it comes from years of having to beg for everything our child has in school. I wonder if they realize when I walk into an IEP meeting, that I walk in with 11 years of baggage and fighting behind me.
Each year I try to start fresh. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I have hope that they will fall in love with my daughter, and although she will cause them extra work, they’ll see she’s worth it. I trust them to do their jobs.
But it seems every year (with an exception of one or two), no one wants to do their job, no one wants to put in the extra effort – teachers want to follow what they see as important for my child instead of what’s in her IEP.
This leaves me to explain, to educate, to ask questions and to advocate, and for some reason when parents do this, they’re considered a pain in the a$$.
As an educator, I make these parents — parents like myself — the ones who have been hurt and burned, a top priority. I spend that extra time, I try to help restore trust, I offer data before they have to come looking for it. I send home notes after each work session. I don’t hesitate to hug them and to tell them to call me. I tell them I would fight hard too if it was my child. I understand.
When we receive a child into our lives through a school program, we really receive so much more. We recieve their past, present and future. We receive their family and community. We’re only one facet in a huge picture of the larger scheme of life. This is our chance as educators to be difference makers, to reach trust through transparency and communication. To build real relationships by opening up our hearts and to know and understand that we too would not hesitate to fight hard for our children…
even if it means being labeled the b*tch.
This post originally appeared on Successful Exceptional Education.