This story should be a disaster story. It really should. First of all, going to the Back To School Open House with a 6, 4, and 2 year old plus severely disabled teen are not the best ingredients for getting the night off on the most ideal foot. Of course, I got off to a late start so my hour at the school dissolved into only 30 minutes. Luckily it is an open house forum where you just mill around the classroom and interact with the one teacher and 8 aides. No formal presentations in the gym as at Pink's school. No dressing to impress in a nice sweater set, trying to keep up with the proverbial Jones's like at Pink's school. No formality. Thank God, or else I would not have been able to go. I just rolled in like one hot mess with a slew of kids trailing me, clad in an odoriferous T-shirt I probably slept in the night prior and cut off shorts, chipped polish on my toes displayed in dusty flip flops and dirty hair knotted on top of my head. And, as if you had to guess, no make up. This would NOT be how I would ever DARE present myself at Pink's school. No way, no how. But at CB's school? They're like family. Who dresses up for family? No need to impress, feel self conscious or judged. It is "come as you are" and everyone is accepted "as is." The kids and the grown-ups alike.
This is some of the gang here, at the Prom last spring.
Back To School Night should have been a disaster. I hustle the girls through the shiny tiled halls and immediately upon entering the new classroom "suite" (complete with work area, common area, private dining area for lunch, private bath, attached vocational room and sensory room... holy mackerel!!) I notice CB's diaper has leaked through her pants. No problem, her teacher announces. Of course they have tons of clothes and diapers I always send in. CB's teacher, Heather, shows me to the class's private bathroom and upon changing CB's diaper I see an unexpected poop so here we are, me, Heather, CB, and three little kids in this narrow little bathroom changing CB in the standing position. Finally, she's ready for the new diaper but before it is on she pees all over the floor and all over Tink's little sandled feet (who happened to be standing too close). "CB peed on my foot!" she yells with all the delicateness of a four year old. Heather helps me clean up with Lysol wipes and I continue getting CB dressed then let Tink and Rella use the toilet.
Twenty minutes have now passed and we've been in the BATHROOM this entire time!! We're talking about Heather's recent summer wedding like we're two normal people discussing it over a latte in a civilized cafe instead of while I wipe asses and take names. The sheer hilarity of our very normal discussion over the din of this ridiculous mess makes me burst out in giggles now. She's asking me "Sooooo, how are things going with you?" and I reply with a smirk "You're lookin' at it!!" and we bust out laughing. It's just... just... not so bad to go through nutty stuff when someone is right there with you helping and laughing and grounding the situation without pity, judgement, or an air of casual indifference.
We finally emerge from a 20 minute detailed tour of the bathroom to do a 5 minute sprint tour of the rest of the special "wing" for the students. I see CB's work station, a little cubicle to minimize visual distraction. There are standing boards for the students in wheelchairs. There are colors and PECS symbols on the walls, not anything like you would see in a typical 10th grade classroom. Speech, O.T. and physical therapists come in and out. I meet new ones and chat giddily with the older ones who have been with CB for years. Everyone helps with the girls. There is a plate of chocolate chip cookies. Pictures from the prom adorn a bulletin board and there is one of me chasing CB across the putting green, which makes me laugh.
This is such a different Back To School night than Pink's at her "typical" school. I look forward to both of them, but I have to say that there is something immensely comforting about CB's night. I get home and put them all to bed. My husband arrives close to 10:00 pm expecting me all burnt out and/or emotional but it was actually a nice night despite all the mayhem which strikes us as both completely odd and totally awesome, just like our lives.