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Back to It.

posted Monday October 17th, 2011

“Sophie’s being a real ballbuster today,” I confided in my mom on the phone yesterday morning — in what I thought was a low tone, masked by the car radio.

“No, your daughter’s the ballbuster!” Sophie fired from the back seat, making sure she said it loudly enough for her grandmother to hear.

I cracked up. Who knew Sophie knew the term ballbuster? She surprises me all the time, she’s so smart. And she’s everywhere. Earlier this week she found an old VCR copy of the movie “St. Elmo’s Fire” in a pile somewhere in the house and refused to accept that furry red Elmo isn’t in this particular movie, even when I showed her the trailer online. (I don’t recommend that — it’s a pretty explicit trailer. Ooops.) Later she showed me web sites (educational and totally appropriate, I promise) I’d never seen — and showed me how to use them.

All week long last week, Sophie was just Sophie. Judged against no one, on her own. More than holding her own. It was Fall Break. No school. Today we’re back to it. Back to the reality of a week and a half ago, when Sophie’s teacher pushed the first-quarter report card across the desk at the parent/teacher conference.

“I don’t want you to get upset about the Ds,” she started off, sounding nervous.

I stared at the sheet, a mass of letters and numbers that swam around for a while before falling into place. Damn, I’d forgotten that they give them letter grades in third grade. A D in math, a D in reading.

I only half-heard the explanations, the promises that the reading tests would be getting easier, the resource teacher chiming in with an idea that just came to her — something about making a list of steps to complete when rounding numbers in math problems.

Two Ds? A D in reading?! That’s Sophie’s best subject. Used to be, anyway. Shit. The Slide I’ve worried about, told myself I was paranoid about, silly about — it’s for real. Her tests are modified — they’re supposed to be, anyway — and still, Ds?!?!?!?!

Sophie has no idea. Didn’t ask about her report card, and I volunteered nothing. Ray scoffed. “She didn’t fail, did she?” he asked. “That’s good!”

It’s not good. It can’t be good. Is Sophie learning anything? Will she keep falling behind, til she finally does get Fs (at this rate that’ll happen pretty freaking quickly) and they announce it’s time to send her to the MR room at the other school? Should I give in? All this teaching-to-the-test — it’s bad enough for a typical kid. There’s no reason for Sophie to endure it. So why are we putting her through that?

Damned if I know. And for a week, I put it out of my mind, pretty much. But I can’t ignore it any more. Today we’re back to it.

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Tags: Filed under: Down syndrome by Amysilverman

3 Responses to “Back to It.”

  1. How I wish it were as easy to answer this as to provide the name of a dentist good with special-needs kids. : ( Best wishes, as you take this journey.

  2. Crap. I’m pretty sure our IEP stipulated grading on a curve. So sorry for what this does to you. So vexing. Here, take this hug.

  3. I think assessments suck. I give Sophie an A+ for being one of the most interesting, inquisitive, insightful kids I’ve never met but feel I know through your writing. So put a big A+ on the refrigerator from the Nichols School of Interesting People.

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