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Wrinkles in Time

posted Tuesday April 2nd, 2013

The other evening, at bedtime, I was reading Sophie a book called Moo, Baa, La La La, and my eyes landed on a book I had put on her shelf before she was born, the young adult classic A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. I was suddenly sad, thinking that Sophie probably will never understand one of my favorite stories.Up the Down Staircase, Phoenix New Times, November 25, 2004

So, guess what book Sophie brought home from the school library the other day?

“Look Mommy!” she bellowed, running at me with it as soon as I came through the door. She knows it’s one of my favorites.

Sophie is exceeding expectations, and not only mine.

Last week we crammed into a conference room — Sophie’s teacher, her aide, her therapists, the principal, the fifth grade teacher, our lawyer, their lawyer and the district’s special education director since the lawyers were there — for the latest IEP meeting.

“Ask hard questions,” I told our lawyer before we walked in. “Find out how she’s really doing.”

So she asked. The answers:

Sophie’s reading comprehension is at grade level.

Sophie can multiply double digits.

Sophie has lots of friends and plays with the other kids — in fact, the teacher said, the other kids seek her out.

And then the teacher said something that  made me tear up. I wrote it down on the pad of paper I’d brought along.

“Sophie is a typical fourth grader.”

Don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry I told myself, hiding behind my Diet Coke.

(After the meeting, the principal — the one who shares Sophie’s birthday and wears purple once a week for her and contributed more constructive, creative ideas during that meeting than I heard his predecessor attempt in the previous f0ur years’ worth of meetings — gave me a hug. A hug. We only have a year left at this school. Then we’re screwed and I’m not sure a lawyer can fix it. But that’s a different blog post.)

Later I asked Ray, “Hey, don’t you want to know how the IEP meeting went?”

“Sure, how’d it go?”

“The teacher said Sophie is a typical fourth grader!!!” I beamed, waiting for a response.

Ray laughed. And like that I felt myself sink back to earth, like the tea party scene in Mary Poppins.

“She’s not typical in any way,” he said, walking out of the room.

Of course Sophie’s not typical. I know that. We spent much of that IEP meeting discussing her impossible handwriting, her hard-to-understand speech, her struggles with subtraction. At one point the lawyer flipped through Sophie’s standardized test scores and I sucked wind, noticing single digits in the “percentile” column.

But she’s holding her own in a fourth grade classroom. Yes, it takes a team of people that would overflow a minivan to make that happen, but it’s supposed to take a village, right?

And she brought home A Wrinkle in Time. I need to get the library’s copy back soon, but I think I’ll dig up the other copy and try reading it with Sophie. Will she understand it? I don’t know. To be honest, I don’t know that I’ve really ever understood that book.

All I know for sure is that some days it feels like no time has passed since Sophie was born. A wrinkle? Who knows.

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7 Responses to “Wrinkles in Time”

  1. beautiful Amy! Too bad Ray burst your bubble, that was a good wave and you should have ridden it as far as it would take you.

    I was at the library just yesterday looking for AWIT for my 5th grader, not sure if he would enjoy it but thought it was worth a try. It was checked out.

  2. I love your response to the IEP meeting – and I love Ray’s. It’s all good.

  3. Subtraction? Handwriting? Meh. Who needs it? She’s a reader, though! Reading at grade level, kick ass! A girl who knows the important things in life. Good job, Amy :)

  4. Just a question. Why do you and the school have lawyers present at your meeting?

  5. Greg: I brought a lawyer for the first time two years ago when we felt it was time for Sophie to have a dedicated aide — and I didn’t want to be told, as I had in the past, that Sophie couldn’t attend her home school if she “needed more than a typical kid”. (That was the principal.) The lawyer has come ever since and since we have one, the district sends one, too. Their lawyer has never said a word in all the years of meetings and I’m quite sure is not paying attention. But ours is — she’s been really helpful in terms of wording IEPs, etc. And getting that aide.

  6. I’ve been wanting a lawyer at school meetings for Brennan. What I have is the knowledge I’ve gained from other parents and a husband who is an lawyer, but he isn’t our lawyer. It helps, but not enough. We’ve had a bad school year with a nearly wasted final semester.

    High school is big scary place compared to a nice little montessori school that we’ve been used to.

  7. I love reading your blog. You are honest and serious and funny and a wonderful parent. God bless you for looking at life as a journey and knowing you are the MOM and you rule! Do not ever wonder for a moment if your daughter is getting the best. She is, and you should write a book, or teach other parents how to not freak out about a disability. We all question who we are and where we are going. Everyone in this world is gifted in one way or another! Thank you for your words!

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