Good Things Come in 3s Too

It all started with fried chicken. Yes. Fried Chicken. Most of my supermarket shopping occurs right after we put the twins down to sleep at 8pm. Adam reads to the older kids and tucks them in. That night I arrived home with a bunch of bags and fried chicken.

“I had a craving…” I started to explain to Adam.

He saw the fried chicken. His eyes went wide and he said, “OH NO!”

Yes, pregnancy and fried chicken go hand and hand with me. When I first moved to Chicago it wasn’t that out of the ordinary but now that my eating habits have changed to a calorie counter with vegan and paleo tendencies, it’s pretty out of character.

Next Adam was in a funk about a mistake he made at work. He expects his work to be perfect which is very hard when you are, you know, human.

Also, as many of you know, I’ve been waiting on a call for Ben to get evaluated for an IEP. An Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) is a “plan or program developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives specialized instruction and related services.”

Without it, I am sure Ben will not make it through Kindergarten.

Last Wednesday (and last tuesday, and last monday, and the friday before) I called the Office of Diverse Learners and found out that they are only open for one more week in the summer and there were no more appointments until September.

I almost broke down crying. “How did this happen?” I asked.

“I was told by the teacher who pre-screened him that we would be contacted in 3 weeks to 2 months for an appointment. That was on June 6th.” I said angrily.

“I can’t send him to school without help he won’t make it!” I wailed.

The woman on the other end of the phone took pity on me. “We often have cancellations, do you want me to call you if there is one?”

“Yes please”, I replied. “I will drop everything, wake two kids up from naps, do whatever I need to in order to make this happen.”

The next day I got the call at 8:30am. There was a cancellation. We packed food, books and other things. Adam cancelled his meetings, took off his newly donned suit and got ready for the mess that accompanies watching our other three kids.

We were there from 10am to 3pm. We were in the room with a case worker, a special ed teacher, a general ed teacher, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, a psychologist, a social worker and a speech pathologist.

They questioned me. They tested Ben.

In the end I walked out with an IEP. The plan was very accurate and allowed Ben lots of things to help him learn. Unfortunately, to implement it they were suggesting that he not attend the school his brother does (a top rated magnet school), but a “blended school”. This school was to be decided by the head office of CPS. They would send them the paperwork and I should expect a letter within 10 days.

My heart sank and once again I had to do everything in my power not to cry in front of these people.

“Can you note that he has already been accepted to his brother’s school?” I asked.

The OT suggested I talk to the school, because you never know if they are willing to be accommodating. Which gave me hope that it could still work out. But also depressed me because I knew it meant CPS would not suggest my school of choice.

That weekend we, along with two other Kindergarten parents, hosted a welcome party at Pump it Up. I arrived in a funk. I was suppose to be bright and friendly, purporting the virtues of the school that Ben may not even attend.

I started talking to the other hosts about the party. One heard my story and said, “Sounds exactly like my son’s IEP”. She then proceeded to tell me what else was in it. It was even more involved than Ben. In a moment, I had hope again.

This was like an emotional roller coaster that could only be stopped by someone of authority at Jack’s school.

Over the weekend one night I cried myself to sleep with the vision of myself pregnant, trudging the twins to two schools in the middle of a Chicago blizzard to pick up Jack and Ben. All while hoping that Adam would find gainful employment after he lost his job.

Monday morning Mr Monthly showed up. I had never been so happy to see myself bleed in my life.

Monday night Adam came home and told me the other side signed the paperwork he forgot and didn’t even fight about it. He was stressing over nothing.

And today, we met with Jack’s school. I was full of jitters. They held Ben’s future in their hands. Would they accept Ben or not?

Turns out the principal didn’t even notice the suggestion for a blended school. She looked at what he needed and said, “We can accommodate him.”

She looked me in the eyes, so deep it made my throat constrict and I felt like she was squeezing my tear ducts so tight that they were dangerously close to overflowing and said, “I have two kids with special needs. We are going to get him the help he needs.”

They are applying for an aide for him and will provide the other services on the IEP like occupational therapy and social work.

The kindergarten teacher and principal were upbeat and helpful, wanting to do the hard work required to help him thrive. They told stories of other kids they knew and they were so similar to Ben.

They are even happy to let me take him out early once a week to join a group therapy session at his therapist’s office.

So today I learned that it’s not just bad things, but good things happen in threes too!

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