Six-and-a-half years ends on Monday. Dar started at the Berkeley Unified School District in October 2012, just after his 3rd birthday, starting at a state-sponsored pre-school along with the other severely disabled and severely income-impacted. Next week the BUSD will begin to subcontract his school days to a Non-Public School that is entirely dedicated to kids like Dar. They seem very nice and they’ve sent a few emails that help establish expectations. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about them at some point; at this point it feels a little early.
Today is a big day. Today wifey and I went to Thousand Oaks and signed the official papers to send him to the new school. (His brother will remain at Thousand Oaks.) Today, Dar’s third-grade teacher told wifey and I that on Monday they’re having a party for Dar. They’re also preparing a big folder about him. Maybe if you’re lucky you’ll get to see some of that in the future. At the same time, a classmate stepped forward and gave me two pieces of paper, each with one of her parent’s phone numbers on them. She invited Dar to her birthday party. I said, sure when? She said well, it’s not until July, so she didn’t exactly know. I promised Dar would be there. She said “He’s my BFF.” Awwww, that means more to me than I can say.
As all this happens, as one multi-year journey ends and another begins, I find myself waxing nostalgic. I’m thinking about seven years of best intentions, of meetings and plans and goals.
Wifey recently (April 2019) said that our life isn’t as hard as it is for parents who HAD a neurotypical child and lost him/her to severe autism. I think she’s right. We never had Dar. We never met him. He’s never been anything other than what he is, functionally a pre-lingual toddler. So we should be grateful not to have experienced a certain kind of aching loss.
I do remember when I tried very hard, every day, to believe that we’d someday meet a child who could tell us how he felt and what he wanted. It was a time before this blog. Flashback your lens to summer of 2012, when our journey with the BUSD began. Mitt Romney was running for President. We had a brand-new baby (Dar’s brother), and yet we were SO engaged with every little aspect of Dar’s placement. How engaged? Let’s just say that I sent a LOT more emails seven years ago than I have in the last month or so.
I went back over seven years of emails…WOW. Can’t publish here because of confidentiality, but wow, for so many reasons. One of them is…not much has changed. Dar has many of the same issues. It’s not the BUSD’s fault. It’s not anyone’s fault. One has to get used to that. And…one does acclimatize. One settles? Well, I certainly settle for writing fewer emails these days. In seven years, I haven’t given up, but I have given over. I’ve given over to everyone doing the best they can without my micromanaging. I’ve given in to Dar being Dar. For better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, til death do us part.
Let’s give up today to hope for better things in the future. Thanks for reading.