Sometimes is the Little Things
guest post by Jessica’s Dad
Wrapping Up Middle School and Far Far Away reviewed the many positives and exciting possibilities, especially learning independence, for Jess if she moved to a school for blind: a school that also specialized in children with multiple disabilities. After many months of waiting, meetings, IEPs, etc. were over and Jess had moved to the school, we were finally settling into a routine. Jess was gone during the week and returned on weekends via a school bus.
Jessica’s schedule at school was in place and had been for a few months. The typical routine included a school bus picking her up from her school to bring her and one other local student home on Friday afternoon. She would arrive home around 6pm. Then, we met the school bus on Sunday afternoon at 2pm for her to head back to school. However, as many parents have experienced, it is not always the big things that make us reconsider or question our decisions about how we help our children.
I remember taking Jess back to school on a Sunday following a weekend home visit. I do not recall exactly why I drove her the several hours back to school on that day. The weekends went by so fast, and 2pm on Sunday afternoon often rolled around way sooner than we wanted it too. On this particular Sunday, it could have been a family event that kept us from getting Jess to the bus pick up location on time or maybe she was acting a little sad and we decided one of us should take her back to spend some extra time with her.
The trip to her school was uneventful. After Jess and I arrived, I helped take some of her belongings into her room. As we entered the cottage, the staff person on duty greeted her. No one else did. There were two or three kids in the common area quietly playing. They did not acknowledge Jessica’s return. The cottage had a quiet, non-family type feel for a Sunday evening. After I helped put her things away, Jess just stood there in her room. Who knows what she might have been thinking. To watch her, it seemed like she just kind of looked around like, “what happens now?” It was so hard to just leave her there like that, so I asked if she wanted to sit on the bench swing near the cottage for a little while. Swinging had always been one of Jessica’s favorite activities, so we did that for about 20-30 minutes. While we were swinging, she did not talk much, which is quite unusual for her. Looking around, I noticed very little activity on campus. I remember beginning to think about whether or not this was the best place for Jess.
It was starting to get dark so I needed to head home – a sad time for me. It was the kind of sadness that aches deep within your chest. As I started my drive home, not only was I thinking about the residential side of things, I was also thinking about some of the things beginning to happen in the educational arena that were concerning. I started questioning if living away from home was the best environment for Jess. Had we made a mistake in trying to give her the best opportunities for an independent, productive life? When thinking about our decision to let Jess go to that special school away from home, my mind was not focused on the big things or long-term outlook; it was focused on many of the little things. Sometimes it is not the big things. Sometimes it’s the little things.