First, this is not a Red Nose Day post. Secondly it was actually a Rite-Aid but the tagline for Walgreen’s is appropriate and, then, there’s Tina Fey’s voice-over.
Yesterday, May 16th — 90 minutes before the official launch party for my book–Not Always Happy: An Unusual Parenting Journey—Thorin and I ran into two people who played prominent roles in our story.*
Thorin and I walked out of Rite-Aid and ran into his first grade teacher, who is known as Mrs. Bruce, in the book. The last time I saw her was a few months after we left school. It was at Hannaford’s Supermarket. I was still raw from our interactions with her. I was terse but civilized.
Here’s a tip on what I might think of you. If I don’t grab you and hug you or break into a wide, toothy grin and look like I’m levitating — I probably don’t like you. I’m from northern Wisconsin originally. That statement is redundant for all people from there.
I was pleasantly surprised that seeing Mrs. Bruce yesterday brought up no emotion in me. She asked, “How are you?”
“We’re great!” I said.
“We’re great, too, but busy,” she offered unsolicited.
Okay, we’re all great –now how to get to the car? That’s when the Universe kicked it into over-drive. Coming out of Rite-Aide was The Principal (TP) from Thorin’s former school—she’s also in the book and known as her title. This was clearly supposed to happen on this day at this little corner of the Rite-Aid entrance.
Strangely enough the two of them seemed more uncomfortable with each other than us. We quickly covered similar greetings with TP.
Mrs. Bruce, “How old is Thorin now?”
I didn’t even think anything like, “Are you fucking kidding me? You can’t ask him?” Instead, I said to Thorin, “How old are you?”
Then for reasons not entirely clear I said, “Thorin takes specials at Walt Whitman Elementary School.”**
Mrs. Bruce asked, “Oh! What’s your favorite special, Thorin?”
He said, “Homeschooling!”
I give myself extra credit here for not crying. “Thorin, that makes me so happy!” I said levitating.
Mrs. Bruce, “Well, I’m glad you are doing social things. That’s important.”
It’s probably important to mention at this juncture, Mrs. Bruce told me she did not consider herself Thorin’s teacher during her tenure as his teacher and she didn’t support his augmentative communication device in the classroom, “Because it takes so much time.” How thoughtless of Thorin!
Did I see TP shake her head and give the stink eye to Mrs. Bruce through her dark shades, as if to say, “This is the kind of crap that got us in trouble in the first place!”
I turned to Mrs. Bruce—giving her my full attention: “If there is one thing you do not need to work about it is Thorin’s social life. He takes theater class, dance class, movies class, music class, gym, track, music and he has friends.”
“Nice,” Mrs. Bruce said oblivious to my tone.
TP responded in a warm and genuine tone, “Thorin that sounds amazing! Amazing! Really very nice.”
The corner of happy and healthy before the party last night was awesome.
*Our family started homeschooling in August of 2014. We started because we couldn’t tolerate how Thorin was treated and more importantly he couldn’t tolerate it. That said we found we love homeschooling.
**A few things to note: One — Walt Whitman is the name I gave another school in our district that is in my book. Second, “specials” are art, music and gym classes. Third, yes, Thorin has been attending specials in a public school since August of 2016. Fourth, to answer your question, yes it has been a real trip.
P.s. — if interested in knowing more about the book please go here to my author website.
I hope Mrs. Bruce and TP read your book. I would love to send them a copy.
That would be funny:)
My mom is a special ed teacher and I just can’t picture her or any others that I’ve met acting like these educators did. I fully believe it, but wow. My mom was (she’s close to retirement and is frizzling out) so amazing with all her students no matter their abilities or special needs.
I don’t understand it either. It’s more than ignorance. It is a resistance to do better. Good teachers learn from their students as well. Your mom sounds great:)
A lack of self awareness and empathy, too.