We are the Forgettables!

That evening the text said:  "...AISD buses will operate on a 2-hour delay..."  Soon after, the phone rang with a robo-call, "This is an important message from your child's school..."

The next morning Ruby was happy that school was delayed due to icy road conditions.  We stayed in our pajamas and made waffles.  I got Savannah up and told her about the delay.  She didn't share her sister's enthusiasm; she loves her school.

Happy to have extra time with Dad
At about 9:30, Ruby's ride took her. Savannah, realizing her sister was gone, and that she had me all to herself, began to laugh.  I couldn't help but smile.  Savannah is the zen master, the one who reminds me to enjoy the little things, to love unapologetically, to appreciate every moment as if it were the last.

"I'll hang out with you while we wait for your bus," I said.  "It should come at 10:15."

It didn't come.

At 10:30 I called the bus dispatch number to see if they were running late.  I got an answering machine.  Evidently, they didn't want to talk to irate parents whose buses had not arrived.

"I guess we'll give them a few more minutes."

At 10:45 I called the school and left a message for her classroom teacher.  I would bring her myself because the bus apparently wasn't coming and dispatch wasn't answering.

I used to take system failures, such as this one, personally.  I thought  hospitals, school bureaucracies, etc intentionally acted negligent because they could get away with it.  Of course, this kind of thinking is absurd.  Then, I thought it wasn't negligence, it was incompetence.  But I've learned that's not true either.  Sure, I've met plenty of infuriatingly incompetent people, but there is more to the story. I've learned over time that people simply get busy and forget us.  It's not  malicious, not even in the slightest.  They just forget we exist. The disabled are essentially invisible, easy to misplace in hectic schedules.  People like Savannah are voiceless, immobile, helpless, the last on the list of priorities, the cast-offs, the "who-are-yous."

We're like anti-superheroes-- we're the "Forgettables."  And, sometimes that hurts.  At least show me the respect of being mean to me.  Hate me, get in my face and tell me my child is a drain on resources... I can answer those accusations that simmer under your breath... but don't ignore me.  Don't treat my child as the expendable check-box you never get to.

At 11:00 I finished getting her loaded in the van and we drove to school.  She smiled the whole way.  She loves riding in her van and singing to Elvis.  Her classroom teacher and aide were waiting for us at the sidewalk.

"We were worried about you," her aide said.

"Bus never came," I said.

Her teacher wheeled Savannah into the school, chatting with her.  Savannah smiled.  She is very loved and respected here.

Getting in the van on a cold, wet morning
I arrived at work a little before lunch time, grumpy.  I was glad I didn't have a meeting.  In the past, on a day like this, when I've arrived late for a meeting, someone has always said something like, "Oh, hey, nice of you to join us," or "Glad you could make it."  These phrases are always sarcastic, as if I'd arrived late because of my incurable indolence.  I laugh it off.  Most of these people are clueless as to why I'm late, and I generally keep my mouth shut, so they remain clueless.  It's better that way.  They don't want me to say that I've already done more that morning than they were going to do all day.  They don't want to hear about the diapers and the feedings, the gagging on phlegm, dressing the quadriplegic, the bed to gurney and gurney to wheelchair transfers.  They don't want to hear about the bus coming late or not coming at all. Besides, their rudeness communicates one thing clearly: I was missed.  And I've learned to appreciate that.

#SpecialNeeds #disability #school #childrenwithspecialneeds


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