A Holiday Party

I volunteered today to help with the Kindergarten Christmas Party at Cooper’s School. I knew it would be a toughie for me.

I was putting myself face to face with with kiddos Cooper’s age. I knew it was going to sting pretty bad. But I volunteered anyways. I want to be part of his school. I want to be involved. I don’t want to hide.

I want to be able to say, ‘my son is in special ed’ when other moms ask. I want to say it and have it be part of the normal conversation. I don’t want sympathy. I just want to be one of the moms. I’m not though. We are different. Sigh.

Being part of public education as a special needs parent is really, really hard. Being face to face with it all hurts. A lot.

Also, a few of the teachers there hate me. And that’s fine. I’m ok with it. It sorta comes with the territory as a special needs parent. I am a VERY NICE person but I will also not hold back when something doesn’t seem right about Cooper’s care. That’s part of being an advocate.

In saying that I have flown of the handle a few times. Shocker.

I felt a whole bunch of dread going to the school. I know it should be fun. It’s a damn holiday party! Games, prizes, singing, crafts, etc. All things Cooper won’t do. Which I have accepted. Still stings.

I volunteered in the Christmas Card room. I sat with little girls and boys and helped them make cards with finger paints. So much cuteness I tell ya. All the little ones were so excited.

I asked them there name. I helped them paint. Every single kid asked me who I was the mom of. Just like that….’who’s kid is yours?’

Kids are so cute.

I’m jealous. I love, love, love my little boy but what I wouldn’t give to sit with him and have a conversation and do an art project. I can’t even imagine it actually.

After 30 minutes I saw one of the aides from the special ed room and asked if Cooper was going to walk around. She said I should go get him because they were short a person. WHAT.

Volunteering done.

I took Cooper into each room. He was calm. He didn’t participate in anything. And that’s OK. We still walked around. I was impressed at how calm he was until he knocked over a very large wooden Snowman beanbag game. I got a few looks from the mean moms for that one. There are so many snotty parents out there.

Kindergartners are rammy and loud and kids. Apparently that wasn’t allowed. Sigh.We don’t fit into the box of perfect child.

His aide loudly announced…’I doubt that’s the first time that’s ever happened.’ I smiled and silently thanked her.

We lasted about 15 minutes. That is a win I guess.

As we drove home I thought about Cooper. He was so thankful to get out of there. I can’t imagine what his life is like. I watched 75 five and six year olds get ecstatic over their Christmas party. And mine dreaded every part of it. The games. The noise. The activities. The prizes. He wanted nothing to do with any of it.

I guess what I am trying to say is imagine never getting excited for anything. I just feel bad for him. He doesn’t know that joy. The anticipation. The fun. It makes me sad.

On a positive note a little girl in the hallway yelled, ‘HI COOPER!’ That made me smile. I think I even choked up a bit. I love when he gets noticed. I love that idea that other children take an interest in him.

I need that. I need to know that he is a kid just like every other kid there. And not lost in a room.

He is now home on his iPad and happier than a clam. Sigh.

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2 thoughts on “A Holiday Party

  1. School parties are tough. Everything about school is tough really. Being around typical kids is still one of the hardest things for me. Take comfort though mama. Cooper does experience excitement. He does know anticipation. He may just not be able to show you. I’ll give you an example an inspirational story if you will. When my little guy was about 4, we took him to Disney World. First let me say that his pretty low functioning with limited verbal skills. We prepared him for the trip by bombarding him with videos of Disney World. We watched the promotional DVD, and we Tivo-ed all the Disney shows on the Travel channel. We watched them everyday for months. The day came when we boarded an airplane around noon I think. We had a couple connecting flights and then the magical bus ride from the airport to our Disney hotel. The whole time we kept talking to him and telling him that we were going to Disney World. He reacted very little if at all. We finally got to our hotel at like 10pm. We told him Ethan, we’re in Disney World how awesome. We’re gonna have so much fun. Still nothing from him. After checking into the hotel Nd getting to our room. We close the door and tell Ethan it’s time for bed. THERE IT WAS! Emotion. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and began to cry. He said repeatedly, Disney World Disney World Disney World as he cried. It was if he was saying, “hey, I thought we were going to Disney World. Where are the rides? Where is Mickey? This isn’t what was on the shows.” That was the moment my wife and I realized he understood far more than we realized and that he could communicate. The moral of this long story is to show you that my son felt the anticipation of going to Disney World even though he did not show us. He was still excited. We ended up having an incredible trip. I’m sure you’ll have an experience similar to this one too. Hope this provides some comfort.

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