I volunteered this weekend to help with the school’s PTO yard sale.
I don’t get to do this stuff often. Between homeschooling (which is intensive) and parenting Trevor (double intensive) I rarely get the chance to invest in electives.
But it so happened that this time the stars lined up. Meaning, I could actually swing it. I like to swing it when I can. It makes me feel less affected and more normal. Or so I tell myself.
Once upon a time, I had this dream. My heart dreamed that by the time Trevor was ready for Kindergarten he would seamlessly blend in with his peers. All those hours of therapy would pay off big time. Sure, he’d still have an IEP. He’d always need an IEP. But no one would have to know. It could be our little secret.
As far as he’s come. As amazing as he is. As unquantifiable the miracle of Trevy may be.
Don’t hate me for getting real for minute.
He does NOT blend.
It’s now obvious even to the untrained eye that there is “something” up with him. I’ve heard things like, “I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it” or “I thought he might be special needs”.
And so it is…in my heart I have felt that they (the peer model parents) must surely know that Trevor is one of the “IEPs”. Yes, I’ve heard that term used by neuro-typical parents. It makes my skin crawl a little too but I’ve yet to come up with a better replacement. You know, other than “that adorable little miracle child who is such an inspiration!” Why don’t people use that instead? If ever I do come up with something catchier, I’ll be sure to have an awesome campaign with T-shirts, stickers and cute little blog buttons. So we can extinguish “the IEP kid” clause that issues from the mouths of well-meaning others like a dagger straight into the hearts of the IEP kid parents.
So when I was introduced to a couple moms of a couple of Trevy’s classmates at this weekend’s yard sale…I was definitely caught off guard.
I immediately felt it. Awkward. From the tip of my desperately needing a pedicure toes to the top of my desperately needing a visit to the salon head. I hate feeling awkward.
They seemed lovely and friendly and everything. Gosh, I hope I did too. But immediately all kinds of unexpected emotions were three ring circus-ing in my gut. Were they wondering what’s wrong with Trevy? They are, aren’t they! Was that raised eyebrow aimed at me or are they giving each other “the look”? I know they’re not hoping I’m gonna spill my Trevy guts? I mean…we have yard sale stuff to sell, people. No guts. Not today! Do they want the juicy details so they could fill the other moms in on the baseball bleachers or summer beach playdates? Did they really mean it when they said he was “so cute” or is that peer model parent code for “oooooh, you belong to the IEP kid”? This integrated thing is for the birds!!!! I wanna go HOOOOOOME!!! And email all my SN mommy friends!!!!!!!!!!!
I was kind of an internal hot mess.
I felt more than a little mortified at all the crazy that came rushing up from the depths of who knows where. I didn’t even know I had that crazy living down there. I thought I was down with integration. I thought I believed (deeply) in living side-by-side. I know lots of peer model parents!!! I need a shrink!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Of course I quickly realized that all the peer model parents I’m connected with have children Toby and Bristel’s age. The parents I’m connected with who have Trevy size kids…are almost entirely Special Needs parents.
Whack! Wap! Thump! Thud!
Came the ton of elephant in the room sized bricks on my head. Which is to say, my heart.
Now, I have NO idea if the other moms felt awkward too.
I hope I didn’t make them feel awkward!
Like when they were all sharing cute K things their children were saying. Much advanced beyond Trevor. And yet in a desire to connect, I couldn’t resist sharing a Trevy story. Did I make them feel awkward then? Because looking back I can see that my story probably highlighted the fact that he’s one of the special needs kids. It’s hard not to though…when you’re quoting something super cute he’s said. It’s hard not to because there is no sharing Trevy without also sharing his deficits and miracles. It’s all so intrinsic to who he is. All of our children have things that make them them. It never gets awkward when I mention Bristel’s dimples. Or Toby’s first baseman ship. But it did get quiet after I shared my Trevor story. Until one of the moms inserted, “He’s so cute” again. I immediately wanted to jump up and blab his entire journey from start to finish. With passion and eloquence. Standing on the cash box table. Hair blowing in the breeze. Taking all awkwardness somewhere over the horizon with it. So they could appreciate the beauty of him with me.
But I bit my tongue. And pretended like I was just another K mom.
He is a cutie.
I echoed back.
I’m not sure if it fell hollow in their ears too. I do know there certainly seemed to be an elephant at the yard sale. And it felt like he was following me around. I’ve always wanted an elephant for a pet. I’m just not so sure about this one.