Crying in the Car After an IEP

After leaving my 10 year old’s IEP re-evaluation where he was afforded 30 minutes of weekly Occupational Therapy after 8 years of slow going Speech services, I drowned myself in a terrific, relief-induced sob fest alone in our family sized Ford Expedition as I drove through town. At a particularly long red light, that included a particularly dramatic sob, the lone driver of a tiny red sports car to my left began eyeing me and motioned to roll down the window. I muted 94.3 THE DUDE which was playing at the highest volume and hit the auto down button on the driver door.

“You ‘k? Everything good?” she began hesitantly. Her eyebrows knitted, head tilting slightly as her body leaned towards the open passenger side window. Kind eyes inspected my face. Short pause. Then both of her arms raised to encircle empty air in front of her. “You look like you need a hug, friend.” I dried my face, sniffed, and debated what to say to this stranger at the red light.

“I’m…..I….Just left my son’s IEP meeting at school…and…” I started. A tiny sob escaped. I turned my head, staring at the red light, then looked back. She was young and could have easily passed for A’ja Wilson’s twin. Her face blanked at my parenting lingo and she blinked, head tilting again. “And….and I just needed a good cry before picking up my 3 year old,” I finished. We stared at each other a moment.

“Everything gonna be ok, honey. Life’ll work itself out. Always does,” she offered, face full of compassion. If we weren’t both locked in seatbelts about to cross a busy road at lunch hour I have no doubt she would have given me that hug she saw me needing.

“Thank you. Very… much.” I breathed in deeply, and exhaled slowly. “Just….thank you,” I said.

Her eyebrows remained knitted as she inspected my face in silence, perhaps nervous I shouldn’t actually be driving. The light changed to green, we both glanced forward, then back at each other.

“Hey……Love ya, friend. You’ll be ‘k.” She struck her chest with her fist then held out a peace sign towards me. So I did the same.

“Love you, friend. Thank you again. So much.”

We smiled, nodded in solidarity, then drove off.

She back to her world. And I, mine.

Teachers Make a Lasting Impact

During a 45 minute elementary classroom observation today, I was treated to a theatrical, energetic ELA teacher with an obvious love for what she does.

The children, 23 of them, were dissecting their recent chapter of Treasure Island while learning about character development, building imagery with words, prequels vs. sequels, and how the opinions of others often hold more clout in society than actual fact — such as when authors use a quote from another writer on the cover of their book to gain credibility. Book reports on Roald Dahl and other fantastic authors were also on the day’s agenda.

The teacher, an adept story teller, held these children’s attention remarkably well the entire period as they discussed various English language concepts by sprinkling in pop cultural comparisons the children would easily grasp – such as Star Wars and Harry Potter – and engaging them in laughter, wit, and stories about their own lives.

During a bunny trail discussion of word imagery and the pictures we build in our minds as we read, the teacher told the class a story of how her own Grandmother (a retired, veteran teacher) always encouraged her to read as a young girl.

“I was in elementary when the first Harry Potter book came out,” the teacher told the class. “My Grandmother would buy me the books. And she made sure I read them first before I could see the movie. And I loved reading! And picturing Harry and Ron and Hermione. When the final Harry Potter movie came out in theaters, I was in college, and refused to go see it with my group of friends. Because I wanted to be with my Grandma. It was our thing. What we did together. I finally did go with my Grandma! ….and my friends tagged along.”

Hats off to this beloved Teacher-turned-Grandma who is STILL making an impact in the classroom long after she’s put away her own grade book!

As the children stood for lunch a few minutes later, I hesitantly did too as I had another observation scheduled immediately afterwards. But I didn’t actually want to leave. Can I go back to 3rd grade? I’ll request this teacher.