Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Tightropes and Microscopes (Day 300)

Well friends, I listened to my very explicit game day playlist before my parent-teacher conferences, put on my good dark red lipstick, fired up the ring light and endured the annual reckoning. My 5 minutes times 5 teachers is over and I can rest until whenever they reach out again (most likely tomorrow.) with whatever new challenges or chaos that occurs. 

The 5 minute time slot, while highly condensed and manic feeling, was also very efficient and minimized anytime to argue or over explain. I was presently surprised by teachers who respect my daughter enough to let her struggle and fail, but not to drown and to believe in her to ultimately succeed. 

This has not always or mostly been the case for her. 

Often, there have been lovely, kind teachers who want to carry her through the class. Sometimes this carrying has been literal--walking was much delayed by her brain tumor and treatment, so there were teachers who would pick her up and sling her on their hip, instead of having her pull her therapy walker along. Other times, it's been shorting tests to lessen the time it takes for her to do an assessment and then turning around saying her "A" was not her actual "A." 

But, if you carry someone, you are telling them that you don't believe that they can walk. 

And then, they never will. 

This is the constant push and pull of the IEP process. I am forever enforcing accommodations; while also begging for respect and challenges. And then, when a challenge is hard and the outcome is not a perfect one, the accountability and stakes are higher. A failed test brings a series of emails and investigations for my daughter--does she need more accommodations? Is the class to hard? Is she capable? When the real question is: did she study? And the answer: no, she is a teenager and sometimes does not hold up her end of the bargain. 

It is a tightrope she walks and a microscope she lives under. 

For me, as her mom, I feel under that same scrutiny. I know this is her education and her life--but my parenting is so judged in this process. Sometimes this might be my perception and other times, I know it is the reality. Like the one teacher who demanded to know why my daughter was buying the unhealthy cafeteria lunch with she should have a strictly healthy diet because of her health history. The reason; my kitchen was being remodeled and I did not have the mental energy or the physical space to pack 3 lunches every day, thank you very much. 

But there I was: the mother who did not care enough to feed her cancer-survivor an organic home packed lunch everyday. 

It is exhausting to be watched. 

Tonight, I am not sure where I am going with this blog entry. I am tired--work, parenting, dentist appointments, conferences. But, I know this, I am working really hard to not buy into the microscope mentality. They can look at us all they want and I cannot control what they think they see. 

I know I am a good enough mother. I know I am a good enough advocate. And even more: I know my daughter is more than good enough for this world and for her classes and her coaches. 

And good enough is enough. 



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