Saturday, January 22, 2011

Winter Blues

January is that difficult time after the holidays when it seems like the endless stretches of cold, bleak winter go on forever. (I guess it goes without saying I'm not a skier or a snow bunny of any kind.) You make your New Year's Resolutions and then hold out for spring as best you can. I keep telling myself that my tulip, crocus and hyacinth bulbs will be sprouting in just a couple of months. The mantra seems hollow and useless as the Artic blasts blow in causing frigid wind chill factors and snow drifts to mount. Yet, it is something I cling to as best I can. The winter blues and cabin fever really can be construed as ailments of the heart for some of us. I mention all of this because it is also a time when--invariably--the need to reassess my youngest son's mid-year academic progress comes along with the same warm fuzzy feeling as an icy kiss from Jack Frost himself. As if the let down from having to remove the tree and fight my son's desire to keep the pine carcass in the living room isn't enough of a battle. No, we have to add that special joy of seeing where B. is in connections to his annual goals. It's a time to reevaluate and reformulate. It's the time when the professionals who work with him try to remind me of where he's at. As if I needed that reminder. As if I need to have someone actually tell me in black-and-white that my son isn't like his typical peers. As if I would relish the news that even among the special needs children in his integrated preschool class he is unique--special among the special if you will. No, that's not nice, PC or even appropriate. It is however, honest. Brutally honest. Harsh and cold like some epic Nor'easter thundering down for the Artic Circle. I was away for work overnight when the "re-re-revised" IEP goals came home in my youngest son's backpack. Dad was here in my stead for the rare event of basking in the delight firsthand instead of getting an early warning from my clenched jaw facial expression. On the ride home I called to give him an ETA of my arrival. He drops the bomb, "Wait until you see B's new IEP goals." Really? Like I needed to hear that at that precise moment. It's like the weather person on your local station telling you that there is a major storm coming and you realize that you forgot to buy more milk, at 11:15 at night. So, we went through the new goals. The rage, the pain, the frustration, the overwhelming urge to scoop B. up and run away. My son is no angel, and he requires more patience than a saint has. His mother is not a saint--not even close. He has issues of all kinds: behavioral, developmental, social, physical, occupational, academic, attention and focus problems, etc. I get it. I know. They know. They have known for over 1.5 years. And yet like a snowball to the face, the chilling black ink on white paper is startling; it takes my breath away. I am the first to admit where he needs help and be quite realistic about his abilities and issues. These words leave me cold at the stark, bleak picture they paint with professional detachment. They also make the Mama Grizzly in me want to protect my cub and hibernate in a cave somewhere. (Preferably with heating and hot cocoa.) Shortly after that delightful reading my husband reminded me I had a post due. While it doesn't change the hurt and make the words any less painful, somehow typing my feelings does help. It reignites the spark and helps me know there are others who understand the frustration. There are others who have similar chilling encounters in their own section of the world and understand where I'm at. Why we can get so blue. Why the struggle sometimes feels like plodding through an un-shoveled sidewalk in a blizzard. And they also understand how to give warmth through shared experiences and similar journeys. Bundle-up and keep trekking; warmer days are coming. Hope is that fragile bulb deep inside just waiting for a chance to bloom.


  1. What I find even more chilling is when they send home an IEP update that is so far off in measuring what your child can do (she can't) that you are wondering whose child this IEP really belongs too.

  2. I cannot tell you how much I empathize with your post. I have a middle schooler with Asperger's and when I tell my friends and colleagues (in or near "the system"), they are just shocked and horrified at the stuff that happens to me and, more importantly, my son. I have certainly not found the right words or ways to get on the same page with the school personnel. Yet, we keep moving forward and trying...every marking period...every year...all the time...because if we don't, we know that there will be even worse consequences for our kids. Thanks for your post!