Tuesday, October 4, 2016

All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down

There's a Hank Williams Jr. song with a line about corn bread and ice tea taking the place of pills and 90 proof...it's been stuck in my head for days.

I sat down to my 9,876th IEP meeting recently, and as the teacher suggested a plan for more inclusion time...my eyes glazed over and my mind wandered away, off in the distance I heard him say the word "worksheet".

Snapping back to the task at hand, I found myself saying..."No."

You see, we have fought, and we have raised some...well you know how the saying goes....

but, "hangovers hurt more than they used to."  I generally avoid them.

So we find ourselves in a place where we are a little older, a little more tired, I guess you could say we have "settled down." While I do enjoy the occasional delusion of wisdom, and thinking we have developed impressive skills in negotiations, I suppose the most important thing is, we have had time to come to terms with reality.

Gripping reality is an on-going, never ending process.

Because you see, our children will always do things differently. We will always have those moments when we see other children and can't help but feel that twinge of 'what if" (I don't think we are supposed to say that out loud, you may not know this but I wear socks with my Birkenstocks in the winter so caring what others think is not high on my list of priorities)  Sometimes it's hard when  we see other children getting academic awards and scholarships. There can be a little sadness at the sight of teenagers going out on their first dates, leaving for prom and falling in love. We often stand back and wistfully watch as they get married, start careers and families. What we feel is normal. It's a reflection of our humanness, our innate desire for our children to do and experience all the world has to offer.

Sometimes I struggle not to go to those places.

I constantly remind myself that God's plan for my son will far outshine anything that I could have planned for him. I also know that I may never understand what exactly that plan is, what his purpose is. I am grateful for what I do get to see and understand, and I will continue to fight and work for him to have what he needs. But ultimately, I trust God to take care of the details of His own plan for Cooper.

I will give it to you straight, I feel worn down from years of battling the same battle; school systems, administrations and yes even teachers, God bless them...seriously God bless them we could not do this with out them...But all too often they are all  desperately and doggedly entrenched in their beliefs and routines to the point that there is no better example of the "Hey lets try to hammer this square peg in a round hole" analogy.

It's easy to get stuck in wanting your kid to do it the same way as everyone else's child, especially when it comes to school. The thing about that, what I have learned over the years...Cooper shines when he is being Cooper. While he is at school being Cooper can look like whatever it needs to look like in order for him to be prepared for his future.

So when I heard inclusion time and worksheets...I simply thought "no". It's a nice idea and it may work and be appropriate for some, but at this point, at this time in Cooper's life...the answer is "no".

Actually my answer was. "I have a thought, what if we did something totally different..."

I believe in inclusion with my whole heart. I do.

What I don't believe is, inclusion will look exactly the same for every child. I don't believe inclusion is as simple as sitting in a classroom with typical peers, although that is a very important part. What you need to understand is, inclusion begins in the heart. It begins when we as parents first wrestle with a diagnosis and accept its reality in our lives. Inclusion is a seed we plant in the heart of each one of our children and it is our job to make sure it grows. It grows when we reach out to families struggling with finding a place at church to meet their needs. It grows when we step up at the play ground and talk to the mom with the child that plays differently than the others. It grows when we welcome every child into our classroom with eager anticipation and high expectations.

 Inclusion grows when we are living examples for our children.

So when I sat in that meeting and tossed out some ideas, and the teacher beside me sat up straight in his chair and leaned forward, saying, "I like that, I think that's a good idea.", when the assistant principal sitting across the table was taking notes, emailing people and tossing out their own ideas...I had to smile, because...

"none of us do things quite like we used to do...and all my rowdy friends have settled down"

If you would like to put all of the lyrics to that song together just click the link:
Hank Williams Jr. - All My Rowdy Friends (have Settled Down) Lyrics | MetroLyrics


  1. No, Inclusion is not simple and not always appropriate. I don't blame you. You may think you are just tired of the fight but the truth is that you have been doing this for a long time and you know your son. This is the age where we begin to realize that not everything is appropriate - it's time to concentrate on things that will actually help him in his life (Taking - the History of Pop music - yes, that was considered an actual History credit - may be entertaining but he still can't tell time or tie his shoes). Inclusion is great if done properly.

    1. You are exactly right...I just sat there and thought, he doesn't need to sit in a classroom and do a worksheet...he needs to learn how to make a purchase in a store, and focus on job skills.

  2. Yes, and at times - getting that instead of "classroom" was the bigger if the battles.

  3. I can imagine, I am just waiting to see if what we discussed actually happens...