Team Friendly Face (links: http://fullspectrummama.blogspot.com/2014/05/team-friendly-face.html and http://fullspectrummama.blogspot.com/2014/06/team-friendly-face-update.html), convened at the beginning of Middle School, was represented the other night by a few friendly faces as I walked apprehensively into the orientation for parents of incoming ninth graders.
The auditorium was significantly less full than I would have expected, given the size of the incoming class of first year high school students. To this casual observer, it emerged that there were basically two types of parents who chose to attend this event. Both sets looked keyed-up, nervous. But one set looked excited, too, whereas the others, my Friendly Face peeps, looked TERRIFIED. We know how hard transitions can be for our kids, both for individual reasons, such as anxiety around new things, executive function challenges, and so on, and for larger-scale reasons, such as the inevitable jostling and alienation that come with new social situations and groups. (Guess who’s usually targeted in high stress situations? People who are different? Yup.)
The future AP parents, the ones who indeed legitimately signed the Honors English agreement that was in the million-page high school transition packet – the Honors English permission form that I’d signed because, why not? Hey, my kid is GIFTED, and...um...honorable – kept asking questions about things like “prerequisites for calculus.” The rest of us cringed, kept quiet. Sure, the school administration and teachers seemed welcoming and nice, but we all knew our kids might need a slightly different – probably more extensive - set of guidelines.
After the presentation, I felt shellshocked. Team Friendly Face member J came over to me, crying. I felt a migraine descending. We tried to prop each other up. Team Friendly Face members K and C reminded themselves and us that our future ninth graders have such a gift for finding the good in every situation. That our fears don’t always manifest – and often go blissfully unshared by our children...
Then my shy, sometimes uncertain, Team Friendly Face friend J walked up to the Special Education representative and, before my eyes, turned into an articulate, assertive Warrior. While I stood mutely by, gazing through narrowed eyes, trying not to sway or vomit (migraines are fun like that), she introduced herself (and me), asked some really smart, important questions, and just basically advocated her butt off for her son. I was so proud of her! And a bit ashamed that I’d just written a whole post on advocacy...But then sometimes we need to lean on others when it gets too much. I was super grateful for those Friendly Faces at this event! I know I will be getting plenty of chances to advocate in the next few months and, thanks to J, some of my questions have already been answered.
It was also a comfort to know I could jot down some reflections on this ordeal in my 300-page and growing Full Spectrum Mama draft file. I publish only a fraction of my writing, but somehow the luxury of writing things down, along with the opportunity to process this writing provides, and then – when appropriate, when I have the time to polish the writing, etc. - I am grateful to be able to have a part in the wonderful blogosphere phenomenon of letting others know they are not alone.
That being said, I’ve always seen THE COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT as a place where ANYONE can share their experiences. I will be publishing a plethora of COMPLAINTS in the upcoming yearly post. Please email me your tisk-tisks, your triumphs, trials, tribulations, tales of woe and so forth at email@example.com.
Full Spectrum Mama