I had Riley’s IEP meeting today at school. IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan or sometimes Insane Emotional Parent. I think the meaning changes on a case by case basis. I fall into the latter group.
I tend to end up solo at school conferences and meetings because they are scheduled when Hubs is working or, in this case, exactly when the kids need to be delivered to school. I don’t like going alone. Sometimes you need to be a hard@ss and I’m not good at that. Hubs can do it without breaking a sweat, but I’m too busy trying to convince everyone in the room that I’m smart and well-behaved. It’s like I’ve never left the third grade.
I dressed business appropriate in a feeble attempt to compensate for my severe apprehension. Slacks say, “I’ve got it all together and am not actually crumbling on the inside like cheap stucco in an earthquake.”
Then Hubs gave me a pep talk and suggested that I bring a recorder to tape the meeting. I balked, as I do every time he makes this suggestion. After all, this isn’t an interrogation. I’m perfectly capable of taking notes and mentally processing all pertinent information. I’m a good listener. I have an advanced degree. I took psychology in college. I can remember exactly how much Infant Tylenol my children require. I’m a grown up. Neener, neener, neener.
I should listen to Hubs more.
If I had listened to Hubs, it wouldn’t have mattered that as soon as the psychologist said, “During my talk with Riley, she mentioned that she didn’t feel as smart as the other kids…” my mind immediately went to:
an image of Riley cutting class and smoking outside of the school. She takes out a switch blade and cuts the initials of a known felon into her arm, draining the blood into a tiny vial that he will wear around his neck. The felon drives up in a gas-guzzling muscle car and she jumps inside, does not fasten her seat belt and flicks her cigarette out the window, which starts a forest fire, killing two fire fighters and Bambi. Fast forward to Riley standing on a street corner in platforms and a short skirt, waiting for a customer. The Donna Summers song Bad Girls plays somewhere in the background.
Stop it! That’s not going to happen. Pay attention. You are missing important information.
“…I’m also concerned about a body image issue…”
What??? At 8 years old??? But I do such a good job of conveying a positive body image to avoid just this situation. Did all of those times I strutted around naked, singing “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” and occasionally shouting “vagina power!” accomplish nothing? Okay maybe I didn’t actually do any of that, but I think I conveyed the same message with my general attitude. And then I imagined Riley as Karen Carpenter, dying slowing in a bed while I sang We’ve Only Just Begun over her. I started to tear up.
(I’m not kidding here. The thought of body image issues and my little girl made my @ss pucker. I had to bite a hole in my tongue to keep from losing it in front of professional educators. And as soon as school was out I had a conversation with Riley about her body, fat penguins and Disney starlets. Yes, I did touch on all of those talking points. I think it went well.)
Do not cry in this meeting! Do not cry! Stop overreacting. You are missing all of the important…”
“…but I think if we take those steps, we’ll avoid certain disaster.”
Okay, so maybe I’m a better listener when I’m not this emotionally invested in the topic. When it comes to the welfare of my kids I take a day trip off the reservation. Luckily the psychologist gave me a packet of everything we covered, which I will read while Hubs pokes me gently with an electric cattle prod to keep me focused.
And next time I’ll let Hubs put a wire on me. Like an unstable undercover agent.
I love the way you combine heart and humor. Hugs to Riley…and you.
Thanks. Writing is cheaper than therapy.
I know. I’ve done both. =|
The tape recorder thing is a really good idea. I can’t remember anything when I get all emotional; I’ll have entire, heated discussions, cry about them for hours, and then be completely unable to remember exactly what was said — just the general gist, which is generally not nearly enough to justify to my husband why I’m so upset.
Also, I used to work with kids who had IEPs, and generally they turn out just fine, especially if they have parents who care and are involved in their daily lives, which Riley clearly does. It is extremely unlikely that she will end up as a whore, French or otherwise. It’s much more likely that she will learn to work really hard and persevere, and will end up as a doctor or an astronaut, or at least as a hard-working, responsible, successful woman. So take a big, deep breath, drink a glass of wine, and hug your little girl close.
I’m a worst case scenario girl, so it’s in my nature for my imagination to run to the dark side. The writing lets me poke fun at myself and the situation and then I can become rational again. A beer also helps.
And then I hug my little girl until she gasps for air;-)