We were at the town carnival tonight, and K saw a girl from her mainstream, 3rd grade class (where she started out the year). They hung out, talked, and went on all the rides together. And my heart broke a little, bc I wish she could be successful in the mainstream. I wish she could be in her old class, with kids who truly did love her.
So close, yet so far...
Thursday night we took the kids to the town carnival. They had been setting it up for a week, and B especially couldn't wait to go (as in it was all he could talk about at home and school). It was wristband night, meaning for $15 the kids could ride as many rides, as many times as they wanted, which saved us a ton of money (I loathe carnival tickets).
We weren't there very long when a girl from K's original 3rd grade class saw her, and came running over. She was so excited to see K. This was the little girl who would always be holding K's hand, or trying to involve her. You know, that "mother hen" you always hear about. She would annoy K at times, but I was glad there was someone pushing her "in" to the group.
I felt a little nostalgic for the good ol' days (that really weren't so "good"), but it wasn't bad. I was glad K got to say hi to an old friend.
A while later, while on the swings, K met up with another girl from that same class. The little girl sat next to K, and the whole time the swings were swirling around, they talked. I don't know about what. I think some of it was about where K went to school now. I saw a lot of gesturing and smiling. It made my heart happy that there were kids who truly missed my girl, since this year was the year some had started to not be so accepting.
Once the swing ride ended, they stayed together. For the rest of our time there, they rode all the rides side by side, and had a great time. I followed behind, watching. Giving my girl space to just be a 9yo kid with a friend. Occasionally she'd walk over and snuggle into me, then run off again, happy and content.
It was awesome that K had such a "typical" experience at the carnival. Going on rides with another girl her age. Being more independent. Just being a kid. Except, my heart was breaking a bit. I had to hold back tears at times, even. Ridiculous, right?
The thing is, it made me sad that K couldn't be in that class with that little girl, anymore. That as great as the night was going, school never went that well. It was easy to forget, for a second, just how bad it was, wondering why it couldn't work out. But, oh, how it couldn't work out.
And I just wish, with all of my being, it could. I wish she could see these girls everyday. Ride the bus to school. Be in the regular 3rd grade class. I wish that inclusion had worked for my child. Sometimes it's so hard to reconcile the 9yo I saw last night, with the girl who is now at a private, special education school. For whom the mainstream was an absolute nightmare.
Hanging out 1:1 at a carnival is fine. Unfortunately, life isn't about hanging out 1:1 with a friend, doing something fun, all the time. I had to remind myself of the context, and not fool myself into believing maybe things weren't as bad as they were, because they were. Even the school admitted to that. And they'd be just as bad again, if we dared attempt inclusion (which, no).
I felt so much joy last night, watching K run around, laughing, smiling, growing up before my eyes. But, I also felt that sting of knowing it was just for the night, and tomorrow we would be back to reality. That little girl would go back to 3rd grade at our neighborhood elementary, and K would take an hour and a half van ride to her own school.
So close, and yet so far away. Story of K's life. But, I'll hold onto the positives, and hope they happen again.
|K (right), with her friend.|