I’ve spent a good part of this month seesawing between bouts of anger and anxiety.
I thought about not writing about that and instead telling you all about how Oscar is happily playing in his school’s lunchtime basketball league and having a great time despite not scoring a basket, not always winning, and once getting hit in the head when he didn’t see a pass coming.
I wanted to mention that, instead of screaming and stomping away when his opponent stole the ball and played such tight defense that he couldn’t put up a shot, Oscar reportedly kept complimenting her. “You are really good on defense!” he told her over and over throughout the game.
I was going to write about the years (yes, years) of conversations and emails between me and his physical therapist, and more recently his aide and the school’s PE teacher too, about how to someday include Oscar, who has always loved to shoot baskets, in the lunchtime league. I wanted to recount the way his physical therapist first started teaching him about sportsmanship back in kindergarten by purposely beating him occasionally in 1:1 games and how hard we work on that even now in fourth grade. I wanted to tell about my idea to reward him each time he overcomes an obstacle without arguing during a game, and about the PE teacher’s idea to stack Oscar’s team with compassionate and athletic teammates. About the plays his teammates devised to make sure Oscar gets the ball. And about the PE teacher yelling “Offense!” and “Defense!” to cue Oscar who would otherwise get lost in the fast-paced game. And most of all I wanted to tell about how I nearly cried when Oscar met me at the school gate after the first practice game, bursting with this news:
“Mom, it’s really fun! I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do basketball league!”
But, despite this remarkable achievement and the numerous other ways in which Oscar is thriving right now, my inner state seesaws between anger and anxiety.
Most of my time this month has been spent combing through old IEP files, organizing phone and email logs, photocopying pages and pages, transcribing the tape of our most recent 2.5 hour long IEP meeting, and drafting a legal document that I really don’t have the expertise to write. I really shouldn’t discuss the issues involved but I can say that what angers me most about it all is the waste of time and money. I don’t think the issues are really that disputed. I think, instead, that the other party is so overwhelmed, understaffed and underfunded that they really can only respond to the most urgent issues coming in the door. And the only way for us to get a response is to become one of those urgent issues.
My throat tightens and my limbs twitch when I think about the upcoming meetings and mediation sessions. I’m livid about the inordinate amount of time this process consumes. I’m wishing I could spend all day instead on the sun-warmed bench at Oscar’s school watching him shift his weight quickly from foot to foot, knees bent, arms low, standing between his opponent and the hoop. She raises her arms to shoot and his hands go up too, but slowly. Too slowly -- the ball goes in. Oscar stays calm. He hears the call “Offense now, Oscar!” and hustles off to the other side of the court.
Mary's hoping that she can return to her sadly neglected blog Finding Joy in Simple Things now that the photcopying is almost done.